A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about shopping

Shopping at Costanera Center

View Chile: the Land of Contrast on bejjan's travel map.

Today I woke up to a much colder Santiago. The clouds were tarrying so the surrounding mountains (including the Andes) weren’t visible. A perfect day for shopping in other words! My friend Michelangelo recommended me to visit Costanera Center and I got directions to walk over there. I think it took 10 minutes to walk from the apartment. Costanera Center is a trade and business complex in Providencia, Santiago. The complex consists of several buildings; one shopping mall, Gran Torre Santiago (the highest building in South and Latin America with its 300 meters), two hotel buildings andone office building.

5-Costanera_Center.jpg 6-Costanera_Center.jpg

The shopping mall in Costanera Center has 6 floors. And when talking about floors I must mention that all entrance floors in Chile are called 1. That means if you’re going with an elevator and want to go to the entrance floor you need to push button number 1. And if you need to go to the 6th floor you need to push number 7 in the elevator and so on. As I said, 6 floors with stores and stores… and the highest floor with restaurants and above those are cinemas showing movies every day. I found out that the shopping mall covers 308 stores… so Kupolen and NK, you can dash yourselves against the wall! Costanera Center is the most superior shopping mall I’ve ever visited. And for those who likes shopping will definitely find something here – there’s something for everyone! Even though shopping malls can be boring I must say Costanera Center was light, airy and anything but narrow. Something I did notice was all the visible security guards everywhere. Not just inside but outside the stores as well. In the beginning it freaked me out a little bit by being watched all the time, but you got used to it and later it felt safe knowing that they were watching over you.
And you should definitely not be asthmatic or sensitive or allergic to strong fragrances if you want to go shopping here. All stores have aroma sprays in every corner and all stores have a different fragrance. Most of the times I didn’t mind the fragrance from store to store… but the fragrance inside Armani Exchange got too much for me. That super strong scent of coconut almost made me vomit so I never went inside that store again.
As said, a lot of stores selling everything from jewelries and electronic devices to clothes and shoes. A heaven for a shop-aholic, with branded clothes like H&M, Adidas, Banana Republic, GAP, Calvin Klein, Crocs, Zara, Ripleys and so on. And during this time of year it was obviously sales in every store and as I mentioned earlier clothes is much cheaper here in Chile compared to Sweden. Cheap clothes + sales = Great findings! Ha ha, if I had known that I would never had packed my baggage so full of clothes from back home… I could easily have filled up my baggage with brand new clothes bought here in Santiago.


During all shopping I had to pause and eat. I’m surprised how little English the Chilean people speak, especially in a big city like Santiago within commercial business and restaurants. But with my knobby Spanish and with help from people behind me in line I managed to order the food I wanted. It’s obviously an advantage to speak Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country, no doubt about that, but you don’t have to be a pro… even I made it and I’m definitely not a genius for languages. I felt a little silly walking back to the apartment carrying all those shopping bags. But I was very happy with all findings I made during the day. Only problem was if I would be able to bring everything back home to Sweden without paying for over weight on the flight. In the evening I tried out ski boots, skis and poles that my dear friend would lend me during tomorrows skiing in Valle Nevado.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities shopping Comments (0)

Murphy’s law…

View Chile: the Land of Contrast on bejjan's travel map.

Up early in time to leave for Valle Nevado at 8.30am. During this time it was still rush hour and when we finally got out of the city traffic we took off on a narrower and tortuous road leading up in the mountains. The road was edged with cactuses (!) that during winter were covered in snow… but due to the warm weather lately there was no snow now. Mainly two types of cactuses grew here; Prickly Pear Cactus and another species that reminded a lot of Saguaro cactuses. The road almost crossed itself every now and then winding uphill and we were getting ourselves from 520 meters up to 3000 meters above sea level.

My friend Michelangelo visits Valle Nevado regularly during the winter season and he told me we would soon arrive to a checkpoint where the police randomly select cars to check if the drivers brought any snow chains. Michelangelo had not brought any snow chains today since it was a rental car but also because of the warm weather and it was barely snow outside. And also he had not been selected by the police in ages and the cops have been busy with other cars or just sitting inside their booth doing everything but checking cars. So after a while we arrived at the checkpoint but today we got randomly selected by the police. Yeah, what are the odds for that? Since we didn’t have any snow chains with us we had to turn around even though the lack of snow was obvious. A little disappointed and half way there to the ski-resort there was nothing we could do. And driving all the way back to the apartment to get the snow chains and drive back would take too long so the time to ski would be too short.

Well, well. So we had to come up with other plans for today. When we got back in Santiago we stopped by at Alto Las Condes, a shopping center with 3 floors. It reminded a lot of Costanera Center in terms of fashion, a lot of sportswear and branded clothes. It felt a little weird walking around in ski clothes but my friend said that the Chileans would consider us as cool people since skiing is a sport that only a few percent of the population can afford. I managed to find two nice shirts that I bought.

10-Vy_fr_n..st_bal_Hill.jpg 13-Vy_fr_n..st_bal_Hill.jpg

And since we had the rental car all day long (and we wanted to take advantage of that) we drove up to Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill) and all the way up to the parking lot by the Virgin Mary Statue. From the parking lot you have to walk uphill for a while to get up to the statue itself. And as for many tourists this statue was one of my top-10 attractions to visit here in Santiago. Well not only because of the statue itself but also for the fantastic panorama views over Santiago that you get from up here. I got a little disappointed over the Virgin Mary Statue since I had imagined it to be much bigger than it was in reality. But I think I probably compared Virgin Mary to the Christ the Redeemer watching over Rio de Janeiro…


San Cristóbal Hill rises about 350 meters above the surrounding Santiago. You can get up the hill by hiking, driving or riding a bike or taking the old funicular. But be aware of all the street dogs around here if you plan to walk or ride your bicycle. From most of the outlooks on top of San Cristóbal Hill you can orient and point out important landmarks like the Andes and Cordillera de la Costa for people that are new to the city. If you plan to visit Santiago during the winter you will have the best view from up here after rainfall since the air will get cleared up from the smog (which otherwise is like a lid over the city). During the summer you usually have great views from up here every day. Many people say that the sunset is spectacular to watch from up here.

23-Costanera_Center.jpg 27-Costanera_Center.jpg

And for those of you who thought I had enough of shopping for today… no, no. I had time for a trip over to Costanera Center again in the afternoon. I never bought anything though except dinner and some frozen yoghurt. I was mighty impressed by the girl at the yoghurt place because she spoke very well English!

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities shopping san_cristobal_hill Comments (0)

Typical Chilean shoe fashion?

View Chile: the Land of Contrast on bejjan's travel map.

Took the subway to downtown and Plaza de Armas after rush hour. It was significantly more people downtown today than earlier this week and it was more chilly and windy. But who cares when you’re running in and out of stores all the time? ;) So obviously a whole lot of shopping today too since it’s so cheap here in Chile. I found a great-looking soft shell jacket and a pair of winter boots (no high-heels)… Sure it’s an advantage if you do speak Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country as Chile. You don’t have to speak it fluently but basic stuff like ordering food and shopping is a plus. I’m not a pro at Spanish but I made it around with my “spanglish”. Sure there are salespersons who speaks a few words of English and that’s when you as a tourist is being tested of your language skills. Even though misunderstandings occurred both from my side and the salespersons no one ever got mad or angry for not understanding me.

20-Santa_Lucia_Hill.jpg 44-Vy_Santiago.jpg

One thing I noticed about the Chilean fashion is that all the women obviously had a strong wish to wear high-heeled shoes. And all shoe stores had almost exclusively high-heeled shoes… and then I’m not talking about 2 inch-heels but at least 4 inches or higher! Seen with Swedish eyes the Chilean woman has indeed a shorter average height but instead of being proud of their height they compensate that with enormous high-heels. Most of them had no problems walking around with those high-heels but some wore them even though they almost couldn’t walk… I hope they wear them of their own free will and not being fashion victims because it doesn’t look comfortable at all.

2-Barrio_Par_s-Londres.jpg 5-Barrio_Par_s-Londres.jpg

And since I was close enough I went back to Barrio París-Londres, a neighborhood with cobblestoned alleys and houses strongly reminding of Paris and London during early 20th Century. Typical English houses and beautiful street lights in the alleys made you almost going back in time. On top of that all cherry trees were blooming.

13-Santa_Lucia_Hill.jpg 29-Santa_Lucia_Hill.jpg

And since I was near Santa Lucia Hill I took the opportunity to walk back there and this time hike all the way up to the top. Today was definitely not as hot as last time I was here, so this time I would be able to get all the 69 meters up to the 360° view-point. Said and done, standing up there looking out over the surrounding city you realized how much smog was in the air you were breathing. A grey heavy fog that was like a lid over the city with exhausts and other pollutions that stay in the air stuck in between the Chilean Coastal Mountain Range and the Andes. It was visibly more police officers out on town today with dog units and police vans in every corner. I found out a few days later that people were demonstrating against something (don’t remember what it was against though).

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities shopping santa_lucia_hill Comments (0)

Poisonous Corner Spiders

View Chile: the Land of Contrast on bejjan's travel map.

Woke up yet again to a cold and chilly Santiago so I spoiled myself with another sleep-in. Biggest challenge for today was to get two new batteries for my portable baggage scale since the old ones obviously didn’t work. I didn’t need any other batteries than the CR2032, you know the flat ones. I took a chance that they might have those at Jumbo that seemed to have everything, but no they didn’t. I tried in another big store but without success. So I tried in a store at the bottom floor in Costanera Center and managed to find a small store where they had the right batteries. The man in the store actually spoke well English so it was easy communicating with him. Then, since I was already in Costanera Center I took the opportunity to look for a new pair of shoes. The shoes I had with me to Chile was a pair I bought in New York a year ago and they were pretty worn out by now. Such shame since I really liked them but it was time to throw them away and replace them with a new pair. I found a pair of Merrell shoes on sale. Very comfortable walking in (which is the main thing regarding shoes) and made in breathable material… so I ended up buying them.


Later that very afternoon I met my Chilean friend and we just enjoyed the company without having any made up plans really. We talked about a lot of stuff and when the darkness started to fall we had walked half way up to San Cristóbal Hill and on the way back we had bought us Empanadas. I am quite picky when it comes to food but I actually liked the Empanada I bought (with meat). Tasted really good and warmed me up in the chilly weather. The word Empanada originally comes from the Spanish and Portuguese verb empanar which means “to wrap something”. Empanada is a bread or dough with filling inside. The course was brought to Chile and South America by the colonizers and is still very popular.

I asked my friend about the most dangerous animals here in Chile that I should watch out for. They obviously have a deadly poisonous spider here in Chile, the Corner Spider, that you need to watch out for… even inside the houses. It’s a small brown spider that often can be found in corners- thereby the name. The spider is common in the whole South America though and can nowadays be found all over the world. But still you don’t want to have a “little friend” like that with you back home in your baggage.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities shopping san_cristobal_hill Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]