car-friendly city, people-friendly trails

It won’t take you long to realize that cars rule the streets of Santiago. Even when you’ve got the walk sign, they’re not exactly slowing down as they make that curb… they’ll stop, sure, but it’s pretty obvious they’d rather not. So it’s such a nice discovery to find that there are trails within the city and just along the outskirts where the only things you’ll come across are a handful of hikers, bushes, and trees.

This past weekend, we rounded up a small group of 8 and decided to hike a trail at Parque Natural Aguas de Ramón. It was a pretty easy commute (take the red line to Baquedano, then transfer in the direction of Plaza de Puente Alto – get off at metro Cristóbal Colón – take the D08 or D08c outside the metro station in the direction of Plaza de Reina). There’s about a mile and half walk from the bus stop to the park entrance. Detailed directions are on the park’s website 🙂

We got there around 10:30am and were promptly informed that we probably shouldn’t attempt the Salto de Apoquindo trail (~9 hours return). You wouldn’t be able to make the entire trip after 9am because the park closes at 6pm. So we settled on Los Peumos.

The trail is quite steep on the initial climb. It’s very dry and hardly any shade. Although, it doesn’t take long to get an amazing view of the city at the top, along with the mountains surrounding the entire hike.

And you should definitely cool off when you get to the mini-falls… the water’s frigid, but you’ll warm up pretty quickly on the hike back, so might as well enjoy it.

By the way.. don’t forget to sign out when you finish. You wouldn’t want park security wandering around and looking for you because you forgot to check out 😉

las primeras días en Santiago: lomitos y pisco

Our flight to Santiago from NYC was surprisingly quick. The Pudahuel Airport was easy to navigate and going through customs? Such a breeze. We didn’t have to pay the reciprocity fee, went straight to the International Police (Chile’s immigration officials), and exchanged our customs papers from the consulate for a sello de entrada. You keep the white paper they give you to register with your local police station and to get your RUT (Rol Único Tributario) – it’s like a taxpayer’s number.

Once you grab your luggage, you go through the same process as most other international airports and run it through x-ray machines before exiting. Chris decided to bring his desktop to Santiago, which prompted a few questions from the customs officer but, after mentioning that it’s for a job, they didn’t mind it at all. We were told that taxis from Pudahuel to downtown Santiago ranged between CLP$25,000-30,000 (US$50-60) depending on your taxi driver and exact location. We took the Transvip and paid CLP$20,000 (US$40) for both of us. Oh, and remember that when you take taxis, tip is already included in the price.

We opted for an apart-hotel along Alonso Ovalle near La Alameda, but we also looked at Melablu and Aji Hostel. For the most part, it looks like finding permanent accommodation isn’t that difficult. We’re still pretty new at this, but we’re using Home Chile and it already looks like we might have something by this weekend!

Day 1 mostly consisted of wandering around and getting acclimated to our new home city. We saw Barrio Londres, la Plaza de Armas, Bellavista, Bellas Artes, and Lastarria

street art

Food here? Not exactly good for you. Chris spent much of the first two days choosing between variations of lomitos in sandwich form or platos completos. I’ve never seen so many ridiculous options for hotdogs, burgers, and fries. And someone still needs to explain to me why there’s so much mayonnaise in everything. There’s a whole aisle dedicated to mayonnaise in supermarkets! Not to mention, a very comprehensive section for hotdogs.

Cost of common goods? Not so cheap. Pretty comparable to Manhattan or, bodega prices for certain produce. Apartments? Cheap, by NYC standards. 1BR apartments we’ve seen are between US$650-750/month and 2BR apartments are around US$800-1,200/month and that’s fully furnished, all bills, plus WiFi or internet and a gym. Oh, did I mention a view of the Andes? I could get used to this.

Best discovery yet: cheap pisco. Like US$4-5 a bottle. Haha. US$2.60 for pisco drinks at bars (2 for 1). Vodka? Don’t even bother.