18 – 22 September
A short busride gets me to Santiago de Chile, the capital of the country. At first, it does not feel like a city with 7 Mio inhabitants as I arrive on a national holiday and the city has turned into a ghost town for a day. As my host Andrea also just arrived back in town (after a short trip to the northern beaches) we actually have difficulties even finding something to eat but eventually improvise a little bit and come up with some creative meal before heading out to celebrate Chile’s independence day together with some friends.
Since Andrea works during the day I take off on my own to explore the city. Her apartment is conveniently located in the city center so I can just start wandering around and wonderfully get lost in the different neighbourhoods of this multicultural city. Something I notice immediately is the diversity of people by means of their origin and skin colour. It seems like there is almost an equal percentage of Latinos, Afro-Americans, White and everything in between. Even the colour of eyes and hair starts to vary in this southern part of the continent. I stumble upon two parks right in the city, each featuring a hill with a viewpoint overlooking the city and the snow covered Andes in the background.
Downtown Santiago is vibrant and busy with plenty of markets, plazas, neighbourhoods, street art, shopping streets and malls so I cover quite some kilometers on foot, just drifting around.
On my last day in Santiago (and Chile) I go for a hike in Parque Metropolitano, a huge park right in the city ideal for hiking, running, mountainbiking and getting out of the city for a little break. My hike takes me up and down green hills providing stunning views, through gardens and forests as well as down a serious mountainbike track. Clearly, it is not meant to be hiked but since I have lost my trail and ended up here I have no choice but to work my way down trying not to crash with one of the mountainbikers that speed down this dirt track at the same time.
Everyone I meet keeps on telling me that I got to head further south to explore Patagonia (the southern part of Chile and Argentina). It does sound very tempting and is definitely on my list of places to visit – one day. For now, though, I will say goodbye to Chile and start going East…