First Few Days in Santiago

It’s now the first Sunday after arriving here in Santiago, Chile, so I wanted to do a bit of a round-up of how things have been so far, post some photos and get down my first impressions. I’m lazy, so I’m going to use bullet-form to get down a bunch of random bits and pieces:

  • The flight was really long, and jetlag hit me way more than I’ve had on other trips. My theory is that’s partly because the travel time is so long, but the time difference isn’t that much (5 hours). Combine that with much longer hours of sunlight here and it makes for a tough time adjusting. We slept through a lot of Thursday after crashing hard once we got settled.
  • On Thursday morning, we met the property owner and someone from ContactChile (the company we arranged the apartment through) here at the apartment. We paid our month’s rent and got sorted out, then I went and did a little bit of shopping at a nearby supermarket.
  • Our place is small, but seems to have everything we need. The toilet flush was broken, but I fixed that, and we needed to buy some extra towels as well. The kitchen is super small. We have a nice view out over the South of the city in one direction and Cerro San Cristobal in the other.
  • We paid extra to get wifi in our apartment and so far it’s been good. I brought and Airport Express as well, but looks like I won’t need it. There’s also an “internet room” downstairs in the building which we can use, but I guess we won’t really need that (unless we just want some extra space/chairs). Download speed is good, but upload speed is pretty slow.
  • So far we’ve had difficulty finding “traditional Chilean” food, although we had delicious ceviche last night at a gringo place on Av. Pedro de Valdivia. We did end up in one place for lunch in Bellavista where they didn’t have a written menu, so we just got “pollo” and got a quite tasty boiled chicken dish with some vegetables and salad.
  • Coca Cola is everywhere, and it’s cheaper than bottled water in a lot of places.
  • Not speaking Spanish has been pretty challenging at times, but I just smile, say “lo siento, me no habla espanol” and then we start waving at each other and miming things and figure it out eventually. In hindsight I really should have made more effort to learn some before getting here.
  • Getting a local SIM card was harder than we expected — you can *recharge* your minutes all over the place, but only certain places will actually sell you a card/set up an account. We went from store to store trying to get cards, until someone eventually pointed us to a specific Claro shop, so now we’re good. How easy it is to recharge them remains to be seen.
  • We have only caught the metro (subway/train) once so far, but it was easy to use and the stations were really impressive (they have shops and things in them, one had a small gallery/exhibition of some sort in it).
  • We have walked a LOT. It’s a really easy city to walk around in (very flat), and it looks like it’d be easy to get around on a bike as well (although most of the main/big streets don’t have cycle paths).
  • It’s hot, but not too humid. It’s been mid-80’s here (around 30 celsius) during the day/afternoon but not that humid thus far. It’s nice. The days are long, with it staying light right up until about 9pm. Makes it very easy to get distracted into the evening and suddenly find that it’s 6pm and you thought it was early afternoon. That probably explains why some bars and things don’t open until 10, and people don’t get there until midnight.
  • Met up with Jorge, one of the co-organizers of WordCamp Chile and went out for the evening. Had a great time with him and his friend Palomar. It was good to spend some time with someone who spoke English ๐Ÿ™‚
  • In our walking around, we went to “Drugstore” which is a mall on Ave. Providencia. It is laid out very strangely, to the point that it’s almost confusing to walk around in. There are dead-ends and multiple levels, with no apparent “plan” to the way the stores are arranged.
  • The view from Cerro San Cristobal is amazing. Santiago goes as far as you can see in every direction from up there. It’s a huge, beautiful park as well, with a zoo, cable car ride, swimming pools, picnic areas and restaurants. Unfortunately the gondola-style ride thing is closed down, but we ended up walking all through the park anyway. We want to go back and go to the swimming pool and perhaps also the restaurant there (which has wifi, so we could work from there perhaps).
  • Today (Sunday) was the Presidential Election and everything was shut. Apparently no liquor is allowed to be sold from midnight last night until I think midnight tonight. Supermarkets, cafes, restaurants etc were all closed this morning, and we hadn’t planned ahead so we went without breakfast. It was almost eerie to walk around and see all the shuttered/fenced/closed store-fronts and relatively empty streets.
  • Tomorrow I’m “back at work”, so looking forward to that. I walked past some places today which I think I’ll try out — they seemed to be bar/restaurant places and had wifi stickers, so hopefully they’ll be open during the day and have seats etc so that I can get comfortable.
  • No stomach-sickness/problems for either of us yet… fingers crossed it stays that way. The food and water seem very clean, so we’ve ventured out and have had the tap water and pretty much any food that we’ve been served.

I’ll post some more updates along the way, but so far I like it. Here are some photos of the view from our apartment and from San Cristobal. Oh, and I’m going to try to keep this map updated with things we do etc while we’re here. I’ll be posting all photos from the trip into my Santiago, Chile set on Flickr.

Santiago, Chile Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile Santiago, Chile

    • Beau Lebens said:

      I definitely will Yoav – hoping to keep up to date and post new stuff at least every couple of days, with tweets coming as often as something interesting happens and I remember to tweet it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. This is a fantastic example of redefining "work space", best of luck!

    In my opinion you will learn dramatically more Spanish by completely immersing yourself. I studied for years and still got the most out of 6 months living in Spain. Regardless, you'll need to dedicate some time to the basics…

    Best of luck with your work stay in Santiago.

    My wife and I are actually traveling down to Chile next week. Although, our trip is 100% vacation and we are only passing through Santiago a couple times. If you have time, I would strongly recommend taking a trip out to Easter Island or possibly Torres del Paine.

    • Beau Lebens said:

      Thanks for the comment Daniel! I think you're right about learning more through immersion, although also correct; I need to spend some time on the basics. I think I'll do some one-on-one classes over the next few weeks to hopefully give me a bit more to build from, and see where I can go from there.

      Thanks also for the suggestions RE: Easter Islan and Torres del Paine, we're looking to see how/if we can factor those into our stay here!

      Enjoy your trip, I know we are already enjoying ours!

  2. Santiago, Week One ยซ Dented Reality

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