We continued our “A Quick Trip to …” theme with a long weekend in Santiago, Chile in April. If you caught our first quick trip to Beijing in March this year, you saw that we had a great time visiting the northern Chinese capital and hiked some incredible untouched sections of the Great Wall.
We planned another quick international weekend trip, this time to Santiago in Chile. We took off from San Francisco on Thursday morning for the first leg and arrived in the early evening in Houston. We then had an overnight flight of about 9 hours to Santiago, the capital of Chile. By the way, don’t pronounce it like “chilly”. Instead, show you know your stuff and give it a relaxed Latin American “chih-lay”. Try it, it’s fun. 😉
About an hour before before landing in Santiago, we caught a beautiful sunrise over the Andean Mountain range as we enjoyed breakfast at 40,000′. As we got closer to Santiago and the sun got higher in the sky, the dry landscape came into view. We’re now in the Southern Hemisphere and as we’re heading into summer back in California, Chile is wrapping up their final warm days of fall and heading into winter.
A quick taxi ride brought us into a central portion of Santiago known as the Providencia district, where we stayed. Santiago is home to 7 million people and with lots of hotel choices. But, we opted for a tiny bed & breakfast in a cool neighborhood, that was walking distance to a lot of restaurants and interesting sights. We were greeted with a warm welcome and complimentary upgrades to our room. This was very welcome after 24 hours of travel and got the trip off to a great start. If in Chile, we recommend checking out the nice folks at CasaSur Charming Hotel.
The next couple of hours consisted of a sweet nap for Shawn and catching up on some pressing work for Julie on her laptop. Both were we well provided for by our accommodations (a comfortable bed and a quiet room for Shawn and good wifi coverage for Julie) and we got our second wind to be able to get our final strength training session for the week.
We have goals and are on a committed program for the past year, so it gives us an opportunity to explore other gyms around the country and world, too. This time, our session was going to be hosted by the good folks at Crossfit Santiago. Their facility is located near a trendy part of town, not far from our neighborhood, and we enjoyed a great session that took us well into the night.
Tomorrow, Saturday, is going to be an early start as we head into the mountains immediately outside of Santiago for an all-
day hike up into the Andes. So, we head over to a restaurant in the neighborhood’s Italian section and have a nice meal at Lusitano. What’s interesting is that there just isn’t much English spoken in Chile, so we struggle with our ability to read the menu and speak with the waitress with our limited Spanish. We anticipated that there were going to be some surprises in terms of what we actually ordered. The meal turned out great and we went to bed well-fed and in anticipation for our time in the Andes the next day.
Generally, our preference is to rent a car and explore on our own. These quick trips, however, are different so we arranged a guiding service to make the most out of the time. Exploring on your own is great and feeds an urge of adventure and figuring things out on your own no matter where you are in the world. Yet, there are things you get from having folks that know the history, culture, and story line that can give you a lot more depth to your experience. We also like to support the local community and guides by giving them the business. The good ones, if you choose wisely, are also fantastic stewards of the environment and the money you put into their business they also turn around and invest in the community which protects these natural places. The company we used is a great example of that and we highly recommend you look them up in Chile, they are ECOCHILE.
Our walk in the mountains consisted of starting at a winter ski area and hiking up a few hours to reach a prominent peak. We only had a day trip to enjoy the area, but would love to return as the same peak we climbed is a gateway to further mountains and volcanoes in the area to be climbed on multi-day or multi-week expeditions. We made our way up to around 12,000′ and since we arrived from just about sea level and hiked up quickly, we were feeling the altitude and decided that was going to be the turnaround point for the day.
There was more to see and some hanging glaciers to get closer to, but it was the right decision as the terrain was slippery and unstable with talus. Heading down was actually a more demanding activity then heading up earlier. We enjoyed some ice cold water at the end that comes straight from the nearby glaciers and no treatment of the water was necessary. That evening, we enjoyed probably the best ceviche we’ve ever had at a local Peruvian restaurant (Mistura Del Perú), enjoyed some gelato, and got some well deserved deep sleep.
Sunday started out with enjoying the breakfast portion of our bed & breakfast lodging choice. And, it was excellent
with homemade granola and fresh local creamy yogurt, assorted fruit, crepes filled with dulce leche, and eggs prepared anyway we liked. We highly recommend staying at this B&B in lieu of a big hotel, as it was a great way to feel like you’re living in Santiago as opposed to feeling like a tourist staying in a hotel.
The rest of the day, we explored the local neighborhood more, as well as walking to other neighborhoods to see the sights, architecture, people, and find some great items to bring back home.
We had our final dinner at a restaurant that we tried on Friday night because it had such a nice outdoor setting under the stars. We were surprised to see a young woman that we met the previous night at the gelato store was now working at this restaurant and was our waitress! We exchanged a brief hug and a kiss, which is the wonderful warm Latin culture, and talked a bit about her background. Her English was excellent and she was new to Chile, having just recently escaped the turmoil that has been going on in her native Venezuela.
Our final dinner finished, it was time to finish our packing and head to the airport for our overnight flight back to the States. Another successful quick trip that left us with being huge fans of Santiago, Chilean culture, and a definite promise to be back to especially do further outdoor adventuring in this beautiful country. The Andes, Patagonia, and the Chilean national parks are in our hearts and we will be back soon.
Finally, check out the video we made with a glimpse of our experiences: