America,  Chile,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Santiago (Chile): nice but nothing more

This is the 2nd time we visit Santiago. The first time was just after Easter Island. The Chilean Spanish (too fast, too difficult) discovered in Santiago made us flee to Argentina. This time, we come back here to wait for the arrival of my new credit card. To judge our progress in Spanish, we booked exactly the same hostel as the 1st time

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

I had to make a new credit card due to a suspicion of fraud from the bank. In reality, there was no fraud, it was me. I tried unsuccessfully to withdraw money several times from the same bank and the alert was triggered. That puts me in a bit of a pickle because even though I can continue to pay and withdraw money, after 10 days, all online payments are blocked. I can’t even download free apps from the App Store anymore

So I have to use a new card. When you go around the world, it’s not easy to get mail. Therefore, I had the new card sent to Courier of the traveler that I mentioned here, and they sent my new card via DHL, to a DHL agency in Santiago. I will do a more detailed article on this, because if you ever lose both your passport and your credit card, there are other tips to redo both

So here we are in Santiago for 3 days to wait for the mail to arrive. Even if the city is super polluted (surrounded by mountains like in Kathmandu), we manage to breathe much better than in the Nepalese capital. Frankly, I find that Paris is more polluted than that

As we plan to spend the next 3 months in countries where the Asian population is non-existent (Bolivia, Peru, Cuba), we take advantage of the choice that Santiago offers us to fill up with Asian food in the neighborhood of Korean and Palestinian immigrants: Patronato

Without forgetting to drink a real Pisco Sour to which one will not have any more right when one will be in high altitude

It is also the time to stock up on hygiene and cosmetic products. Here you can find many French brands (La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Avène, L’Oréal). Moreover, many Argentines come to Chile to shop because Chile offers a lot more choice, for a reasonable price (hardly more expensive than in France)

On the way to Cerro Santa Lucía, we stop at the municipal library (it’s free), where important events related to education and literature are represented by these small clay figurines

The view from the top of the Santa Lucía hill is worth the effort despite the pollution that prevents a good view of the mountains

On the way to the top, we see a lot of nice things

It’s time to send you postcards. Look at this beautiful building. This is where your postcards will start from. In front of the post office there is a man selling envelopes, pens, scotch tape and stamps. He also provides scraps of paper with the address of the immigration or tax office. When you buy an envelope from him, he can stick this piece of paper on your envelope for free. Great service!

There are a lot of pedestrian streets in the center of Santiago, this one is my favorite one

On the way to the presidential palace … made famous by its bombing immortalized on video during the 1973 coup d’état

It’s pretty, isn’t it? Sometimes it feels like Paris… until you come across Christmas trees (which are always there in January) under an overwhelming heat. No no, we aren’t in Paris!

Many Chilean cities have their Plaza de Armas. The one in Santiago is like an oasis, with a beautiful church and a beautiful fountain in the middle, surrounded by palm trees

However, life is very hard: we’ve come across lots of shoe shiners, who spend a good 20 minutes shining your shoes for only 0.8€, people selling 1ml perfume samples, or stickers for 0.4€. Knowing that you need at least 3€/day to eat. Even if they sell all their merchandise during the day, I really don’t know how they can earn enough money to live! Micro trades exist everywhere: In the stores, instead of having a salesman who does everything, the work is divided into 3, so we have one at the checkout, one to prepare the orders, one to deliver the orders. So the buyers have to queue 3 times to buy what they want

I admire them for their resourcefulness, for their willingness to work, to earn money by the sweat of their brow, while remaining positive and smiling. When you think that the disabled receive no help from the state and that the annual telethon is their only source of income. When you think that public schools are so bad that parents have to do everything they can to send their children to private schools. When you think that Chileans barely earn 150,000 pesos per month, then the cost of living is very expensive. So we really wonder what we still lack at home to be smiling and optimistic like them

Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get there

From Easter Island: the plane with the LAN company is the only option

From Santiago airport, take the prepaid shuttle TransVip (9000$CH/person) which will drop you off in front of your hotel

From Valparaíso, a bus leaves every 15 minutes. The journey takes only 1h30


  • Accommodation: 36USD/night for a private room for two
  • Restaurants: menus between 6000$CH and 10000$CH
  • Pressed juice : 2000$CH
  • Metro: between 640$CH and 720$CH/ticket
  • Bus Valparaíso -> Santiago : 4000$CH/person
  • Stamps for France: 500$CH/stamp

Practical advice

  • We liked to stay close to the city center, not far from the Cumming subway. It’s not very touristy, there are local restaurants, but it’s not too far from the subway.
  • The subway remains our favorite transport in Santiago, we didn’t buy a card but we preferred to pay the tickets one by one.
  • Be careful, there are several bus terminals, depending on your destination, you have to choose the one that suits you best. In the worst case, go to the bus terminal at the Universidad de Santiago metro station for information.
  • Santiago is the ideal destination for shopping. Before leaving for Bolivia, buy your favorite shampoo or your favorite thermal water. Even Argentines come here to buy clothes, food, and cosmetics…

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