Leaving Argentina was not easy. We took a bus direct from San Juan to Santiago, a ride that should be about 8 hours, but the Chileans like to ensure their country is very safe from all manner of agricultural products. For us, this translated to a 4 hour wait at the border, which was at 10,000 feet, with the a/c running on the bus.
Nevertheless we did manage to arrive in Santiago, albeit a good bit tardy. Waiting for us at the station were our Santiago CS hosts, Dario and his wife Mariela. I´d met Dario briefly back in Washington about a year ago and as we’ve traveled through South America we´d kept in contact. Despite only having met for 15 minutes he´d made it very clear…we´d have a place to stay in Santiago.
Santiago itself seems in many ways a cross between Buenos Aires and Rio. Surely I´m saying this because I´ve just been to each of those cities but Santiago itself is quite manageable from a walking perspective and still has several large pockets of green hilly space making the city itself absolutely beautiful. A working city for sure it still has plenty of small culture neighborhoods filled with the usual bars and clubs as well as the artisan markets we’ve come to know and love.
The truth of the matter is we didn’t do much while we were in Santiago other than take it easy and spend time with our friends. We skipped on making the obligatory visit to Valpariso, opted out of the wine tour of Concha y Toro (if you’ve ever had Chilean wine in the US, it probably came from them) and didn’t bother with the ride up to the highest hill to see the city. We´d already done all those things in other places and it was nice to sit it a big city and NOT do anything touristy at all. The four of us stayed up late, slept in, shared meals, drinks, stories and jokes and just generally passed the time. It was really was quite lovely.