Day 1, Arrival in Santiago
… and strolling around the city
After almost 13 hours from Madrid, we touched down in Santiago at around 9.30am. It was pleasantly warm outside the airport terminal. We bought our taxi fare at the official taxi stand before you exit the terminal, taxi fare costs approximately 19,000 pesos to centre Santiago (near Santa Lucia).
Where to stay in Santiago?
If you like museum, you should book your accommodation near the Plaza de Armas. There are a total of 13 museums in Santiago to explore. We booked one night in SurAndino which is centrally located.
When we arrived at the address indicated on booking.com’s confirmation letter, it was an apartment building with a guy standing at the “reception”, who had no idea who SurAndino was. He called his manager of the building who came down after 10 minutes and then told us to ring the telephone number on the confirmation letter. My phone (with ‘three’) has no service in anywhere in South America, and the people working for the building were not very helpful either – they told us to find a public telephone box to make that call.
After almost 20 hours of travelling from London, you wouldn’t want to have such a situation at all would you? Luckily there was a really nice receptionist right next door at the Park Plaza Apart Hotel, who not only gave us free access to their WIFI network but also helped us to make that phone call to SurAndino. When connected, the guy from SurAndino was really rude and impatient. Apparently SurAndino has no reception, the checkin time is 3pm, so no-one will be there on-site until the check-in time. I had to call booking.com to cancel the booking and find somewhere else to say.
We probably would have stayed in the Park Plaza Apart Hotel but as their room rate was not within our budget. I managed to find another place, Hotel Foresta, located just 5 minutes away from where we were. Santa Lucia hill is right in front of Hotel Foresta so an easy location to access many central landmarks.
It was a little cloudy but pleasant temperature in Santiago so we spent the afternoon exploring central Santiago and booked our Cajón de Maipo con Baños Colina tour for the next day. The tour agency Alfatur offered a much cheaper rate than everyone else inside the Mercado Central. We paid 47,000 pesos each for the full day tour including entrance fee to the Baños Colina. What a bargain!
Today is the national holiday in Chile so the streets were very quiet with only a few shops open and we were on a mission to hunt for sunglasses since I forgot to bring them on this trip. There are many outlet department stores in Santiago but a lot closed for the day and today is the only day we can do some shopping. We strolled randomly around the central area and finally bought our 2 pairs from Paris Department Store.
In the afternoon, we walked through Plaza de Armas area. Mercado Central is a central market near Plaza de Armas – here you will find lots of food stores, restaurants, souvenir stores and some tour agencies. Santa Lucia Hill is a small hill in the center of Santiago, the hill is not very big but requires one full hour to explore. There is a viewpoint on top of the hill where you can have a great panoramic view of Santiago.