1. Mountains, everywhere. Behind all the buildings, like a beautiful fortress. It felt like another planet.
2. Their public transit was simple to navigate, prompt and clean. There were no doors between the cars so as it moved quickly from stop to stop there was a very pleasant breeze moving through the train. I’m told it’s pretty packed on weekdays, but it was fairly empty for my visit. Ergo, highlight
3. The river! So fast!
4. The entire city is covered in graffito. Oftentimes it’s really beautiful street art, wrapping around buildings and windows in a thoughtful way.
5. Parks! Santiago has incredible parks. Places to run, picnic, siesta, and make out (lots of PDA here, likely because kids live at home until they marry and have nowhere to go. Also they’re not a private, space-giving people). The parks are clean and most have public gym equipment!
6. There are stray dogs everywhere. What came first- the mountains or the dogs?! They are peaceful and mind their business. Unless you are a cab- in several instances i witnessed these dogs chasing cabs down in the street, nipping their tires. Interesting rivalry.
7. Cabs don’t give a fuck. My cab driver got me to the airport in 15 minutes. He drove over 100 miles an hour the entire way.
8. Ice cream and shopping: two things near and dear to the people of Santiago. There are specific McDonald’s outposts that only serve ice cream.
9. I happened upon a part of town that had a lot of hotels and businesses and it was a strip of nightmare American restaurants: Applebee’s, Fridays, and Ruby Tuesday’s. They were the nicest possible looking versions of these spots and they were packed at night with people. Reinforcing the feeling that I was on another planet.
10. Take out (llevar) is sometimes cheaper than eating at the restaurant.
11. Chileans bike on the sidewalks, which makes sense once you’ve experienced a ride in a car.
12. There’s a lot of German influence and much of the city felt European. There was no specific cultural feel that I think is more present in other South American cities.
13. I was able to communicate comfortably there; however, was surprised how few people did speak English. I was still able to dispute a check, purchase shoes, and get the correct change back from my exploitative cab driver with my broken Spanish.
14. The main feeling I had upon arrival was that of complete insignificance. It’s a big bustling city, with people out and about all the time. All the streets were packed and unfamiliar and I only understood a percentage of what was being spoken. I could have disappeared and nobody would have known, or cared. There were a few familiar parallels but not enough to feel connected to the people of the city in any way. Oddly liberating.
15. Grit. Pretty sure I could have taken 2 showers a day here. My feet felt perpetually unclean. But we did a lot of walking.
16. Chileans don’t care much for garlic or spice. Lots of beige Italian spots. But they make up for this with ceviche, salmon, and cured meats. And wine. And pisco.