Traveling Junebug: Life in Chile- Part One

Life’s about following what makes you happy. I certainly try to apply this and plan trips abroad as regularly as possible. Next year, I’ve got two trips planned already and my list won’t stop there. Watch this space or my Instagram (@junemvc) for further adventures.

In the meantime though, did you know I lived in Santiago, Chile for 11 months in 2013 and did quite a bit of traveling within the country? The beautiful capital city is also super cool and there’s so much to do at night or during the day. These include visiting the sights of the city, soaking in the sun, enjoying the shops and lounging in coffee shops.

Firstly, here’s a few things to note about Santiago.

*It’s rather expensive! For a South American city, you’re going to pay quite a bit more than others for everything so be prepared. This includes basics like cups of coffee that would be say, 2 euro compared to Argentina where they’re about half that. Having said that, it’s relatively easy to figure out cheaper places and it’s definitely worth it for the city you get to live (or travel) in.

*Public transport is excellent and reliable. The metro is super safe and runs throughout the city. If based in the likes of Bella Vista (super central), you’ll end up walking a bit as it’s central and you can get to where you need to. The travel card to buy (like an Oyster card or Leap card) is Tarjeta Bip. It’s about 5,000 pesos and you top it up when required. It can be used on the buses too which is useful.

* They use Chilean pesos. Instead of saying 5,000, they might say 5 luca. This is common slang there so keep this in mind for your interactions.

*The city is very safe however you need to have your wits about you in the centre. Like any city, wandering around late at night isn’t advised! Be sure of where you’re going, what the best transport methods are for each area and of course, be aware of typical costs especially as a tourist.

* There are dogs everywhere in Santiago. They’re cute and lovely but be warned as I didn’t expect this before I went there. Sadly, due to the massive number of apartment blocks and lack of space, puppies often become too large as they grow and end up being chucked on the street. They often travel in packs and can be heard at night protecting their territories.

Things to do in the city:

 *Bella Vista is the main place people go out (particularly for tourists). You’ll find loads of cool restaurants, bars, clubs and take-aways there.

*If you want to meet more people, there are loads of couch-surfing meet-ups that take place weekly. I met friends from all over the world and it’s an opportunity to speak Spanish to a range of Hispanics. Moreover, if you’re feeling lonely of a Sunday afternoon (or any other time), you can reach out via the app and meet a bunch of people who simply want to hang out or to show you around their city!

*There are theatres all over the city. I made the mistake of leaving my discovery of them until the end when I went to a salsa show. I definitely recommend trying to go to a show as it’s an opportunity to experience the local culture through Theatre. The one I went to was the theatre GAM.

*I’d highly recommend the city walking tour. It’s free and it’s tours for tips. There are some options of routes you can do including one to the big markets which you NEED to visit and have a delicious meal there. Mercado Centrale (mainly fish markets and restaurants) and La Vega (where you can buy fruit and veggies super cheap).

*Sights I recommend are Cerro San Cristobal, Santa Lucia and Bellas Artes to see the street art and culture.

Trips to take:

*Valparaiso, Vina and Concón need to be top of the list (anywhere along the coast, really). They’re amazing, you can get delicious food (mainly empanadas with seafood) and you can take stunning pictures. You can also do water sports but you need to check if they’re happening in the winter versus the Summer. We did Kayaking and surfing which was easy and accessible.

*Skiing is popular in the winter however I didn’t end up going. Again, if traveling alone, with couch-surfers you can easily arrange a trip.

*To the South. I went to Pucon where I hiked a volcano, sled down it and got a serious work-out. It’s so beautiful and like visiting another country. You can get overnight buses from Santiago which is what I did. It was comfortable and the journey was super smooth.

*To the North. San Pedro de Atacama is AMAZING and worth a look. I went there after I travelled from Bolivia so got a bus. You can fly from Santiago to a couple of airports in the North.

Want to learn more? Keep posted for a range of further travel posts! Requests are always welcome. I’m here to help and advise via this blog. Hit me up with your thoughts.