17.08.2014 - 17.08.2014
I tried to get some sleep during the flight but it was pretty noisy and fussy onboard. And an hour after take-off they started to serve food as well. But I guess the food was kind of well-needed. Chicken with rice and vegetables with salad and a little dessert were served with cutleries in real metal (no silly plastic knife and fork)… thumbs up! Later when the flight staff had collected all the food trays they finally switched off the light so you could at least try to get some sleep. But it’s never easy to sleep during flights. The hours felt like days but finally when the flight staff started to serve breakfast you knew it wasn’t that much longer until landing. Breakfast consisted of omelet, ham, fruit, juice, yoghurt and bread. Pretty steady breakfast I must say. With a substantial headache – I had not been able to sleep many hours – I managed to watch a beautiful sunrise during the landing at Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.
The airplane landed around 7am local Chilean time which was about 30 minutes before scheduled (7.30am). I disembarked the plane tired as hell and remembered I hadn’t filled out the tourist card I had received during the flight. So I had to stop and fill out all the information as passport number and addresses I would be staying at during my vacation. Then I went to the baggage claim and picked up my baggage and later got in the long line to the border police. SIGH! But it really didn’t matter since we had landed earlier than scheduled and my friend Michelangelo (that was picking me up) had probably not arrived yet anyway. It took probably about 15 minutes before I got called up to a booth and got my passport and tourist card stamped… then I was FINALLY in Chile
Michelangelo and I had decided a place where we would meet up but since I had arrived earlier he would probably not be there yet. I looked around and I couldn’t see him. I went outside of the terminal to see if he was there, but no. So I went inside again and suddenly I heard a familiar voice calling my name. When I managed to locate where the voice came from I saw my friend. Finally! It’s been 9 months since last time, so it was time to meet again. He was worried that I had been waiting for him, but I had spent most of the time in line to the border police… so I had been waiting no more than a minute at our meeting point. So it was great timing I think
We loaded my baggage and backpack into his car and it was nice to sit down in a car for a change. I don’t remember how long the drive took from the airport and back home to his place. I was so darn tired and at the same time busy orienting myself in the – for me – brand new town and handling all the new impressions. It was warm outside. Well over +20 °C, probably even more than +25 °C, which was unusual during this time of year since Chile has the opposite season compared to Sweden. In other words; they have winter when we have summer and vice versa. Santiago has a mild Mediterranean climate with relatively warm and hot summers (November – Mars) with temperatures at sometimes over +30 °C while the winter (June – August) has increased humidity and mild temperatures at about +12 °C (+0 °C at the lowest). In more upland areas, like up in the Andes, snowfall occurs during the winter season. It does happen that snow falls in the Santiago Metropolitan Region but it’s very rare and it lasts only for like an hour before it melts away again.
What has become known as “the city” Santiago comprises a much wider area than the central Municipality Santiago that the name actually refers to. The Municipality Santiago is a part of the Province Santiago which comprises 32 Municipalities in total. And the Province Santiago is in turn a subunit in Santiago Metropolitan Region that covers entirely or partially 37 Municipalities. So it’s actually this urban Metropolitan Region, also called Greater Santiago (Gran Santiago) with 6 million inhabitants, that the most people refers to today when they talk about Santiago.
Well back home at my friend’s place (where I would be staying for the first 8 days) I could finally take a well-deserved shower and have a change of clothes followed by a lame attempt to try and look sort of okay after such long flight. I felt kind of half-dead but I had at least manage to drive away the headache with headache pills. So then we headed off to grab something to eat. If I remember correctly we went to Parque Arauco and had brunch which is a huge shopping center with more famous brands like Dolce Gabbana, Armani, Adidas, Banana Republic and so on. Though we didn’t stay for any shopping but went straight back home for a power nap. I really needed to sleep since I was tired like hell, but still I couldn’t. So many new impressions and sounds made it impossible to just lie in bed and try to sleep.
The apartment was almost at the top of the building so it was a decent view and outlook over the municipality of Providencia with the Andes towered up not far away. Mostly upper middle class and upper class people are living in Providencia and the area has many high-rise estates and all the trading in this municipality constitute a main part of the trading in Santiago.
After resting for a while I got to meet Michelangelo’s parents while waiting to get access to the car. Their apartment is even higher up (in another building) and the view from the balcony was amazing. A fantastic panorama view! When we got the car we drove to Costanera Center for some grocery shopping at the grocery store Jumbo. Actually the store didn’t have just groceries but also other stuff. You could compare Jumbo with our Swedish store ICA Maxi. Over there we met up with one of Michelangelo’s friends and now also my friend. So I took the opportunity to buy me some breakfast that I liked for the next days. All three of us went back to the apartment and unloaded the shopping bags and then drove to Bellavista for dinner. As I understand most of the Chilean people here in Santiago rather go out to eat at restaurants than cook at home, since it’s cheaper to dine out at restaurants (especially compared to Sweden). For an example; when I was in San Pedro de Atacama (between September 1st and September 4th during this vacation) I had a lunch menu with drink and tip included (which is generally 10%) for only 11000 CLP (about 15 Euros).
Bellavista is known as the bohemian neighborhood of Santiago with new popular restaurants, boutiques and avant-garde galleries. The closeness to the subway makes Bellavista very popular and during the evenings people gathers here to feel the atmosphere and pulse of the many discos and bars in the area. During the weekends you can find handicraft markets and you can find handicraft made out of Lapis Lazuli, which is a mineral stone that can be found mostly in Chile and Afghanistan. At the restaurant I ordered Cazuela de Vacuno, a kind of meat soup with a lot of vegetables and potatoes in it. And what a portion I got. So I had to ask for a doggy-bag to bring the leftovers with me back home. On the way home Michelangelo drove through downtown and guided a little bit. Unfortunately it had gone dark outside so it was difficult to see anything but I really appreciate the gesture though. We got home pretty late that night and I don’t think I got in bed before midnight.