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I go everywhere expecting to like it, but the truth is – I really didn’t like Santiago. It didn’t get off to a great start when I arrived at the airport exhausted, didn’t try and get a SIM card or money, but went straight to my AirBnB and found that it wasn’t ready. The following day was Sunday, and so I went out hunting for an ATM, food, and a SIM card. An ATM was relatively easy to find, but almost everywhere was closed so I was reduced to eating breakfast at Starbucks and went home still without data.
Monday I tried again, found somewhere better for breakfast, and went around in circles trying to get a SIM card and being told “no” – even by places with signs in the window advertising the availability of SIM cards. I finally managed to buy one, and ended up paying for it a second time rather than buying credit for it which had been my intention (I’ve no idea what this was actually for… it sounded like some kind of insurance). Well… at least it was cheap.
This generally was my experience in Santiago, and why I found it stressful – I had a very high failure rate. It took me ages to find a decent gym (the first one was so terrifying, I walked inside… and then walked straight out again), most times I went looking for a restaurant I couldn’t eat at the first one because it was shut, or not actually a restaurant. Sundays everything (including restaurants) was shut, and on national holidays (of which there was one whilst I was there). The AirBnB was OK, but didn’t have laundry in-suite, and dealing with that ended up being stressful, as the hosts instructions for using the communal laundry didn’t work.
Basically it was just Hard Work, and unfriendly. Which when travelling alone you don’t have someone to reminisce with about “oh do you remember? Nothing was open and we had to eat at McDonalds!”
But there were some cool things. There’s a hill (Cerro Santa Lucia) in the centre of town which was beautiful, and I loved Museo Ralli, lots of Dali including some sculptures, and some other artists I really liked. I went to the Artequin (cool building), and the human rights museum (dark, and not much translated text although I hear there is an audio guide) There were also some nice parks, including one with a plane in it.
I went to the spa, which was lovely and just what I needed. I found a favourite breakfast place where I went every day – except Sunday – with lovely staff who taught me Spanish! There was a cafe in a cultural centre, Cafe Civico which I quite liked and was actually open on Sundays.
Having arrived and hated it, I cut my trip short (I’d planned to stay ~3 weeks but left a week early) and went to Easter Island. I’d consider going back, and spending a couple of days in a hotel if I was in the area, but I wouldn’t go back for an extended stay again.