Santiago

Posted on January 15, 2016

3



It’s been five months since I last hit the road. I cannot tell you the buzz and relief I felt when I sat on the plane to fly home on January 1st. My pit stop to refuel on TLC from my parents, drink champagne and eat amazing food was short. Two days later I was on another flight winging my way to Chile. My mission is to cram as much adventure into 4 weeks as feasibly possible.

   
   
I am in love with Santiago. The vibe reminds me of Buenos Aires. It is a city alive with energy and charm. The old architecture is stunning. Like London, it is a capital that embraces its green spaces. There are cycle paths and joggers are visible everywhere. There are some incredible street graffiti murals dotted around some neighbourhoods and Latin street musicians on nearly every corner. Everyone smiles and despite the lack of English the willingness to help is overwhelming.

   
    
     In the seven hours since I landed. I’ve already sussed out several districts.  Immigration was painless. No visa. Hola que tal and Bob’s your uncle. I hopped on a local bus into the city centre, then jumped on the metro to the closest station to my digs. 40mins journey and all for $10. I am staying in Barrio Bella Vista an area that is famed for its trendy bars and restaurants and home to writers, artists and hipsters.

    
 I dumped my things flung on my hobo pants and Birkenstocks and set off to pound the streets. So far I have eaten empanadas, a shrimp salad, drunk a cortado, bought a SIM for my phone which a lovely man in the metro helped me to activate. Walked up to the highest point of the municipal park, listens to some amazing Latin beats on the street and I am halfway through one bloody good Pisco Sour at an uber chic bar. I’ve already ordered a second one and some black pudding (the veggie no alcohol rule will be bent over here).

   
       
 
The thing that has struck me the most about the Chileans is affection. People are not afraid to hug, touch or kiss each other when they feel like it. Everyone is having a love affair, it is a joy to see.
After living in a city (Istanbul) that can be conservative in some areas Public Displays of Affection (PDA) are absolutely wonderful to see.

At the tail end of last year I was deployed to Riyadh and more recently I visited Doha – both cities have a strict no touching whatsoever policy. Today I feel like I have been let out of jail.

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