When we landed in Santiago, it felt like we had spent the previous few days running top speed across the world. My brother’s beautiful wedding took place in Cincinnati just before our departure, so our travel schedule was tight. We had one day to fly back to San Francisco, then one day to pack our world traveling bags before leaving the US for Chile the following day. For an extra fun twist, we were taking our first flight with the dogs, so Anne spent a few weeks training them on how to navigate their airline approved carriers. While we felt they were well prepared, we knew that if they (or we) freaked out, we didn’t have extra time to deal with any flight delays. After a loud verbal exchange with a TSA dog at CVG, they were on their best behavior for the remaining nine hours of travel time (wipe sweat off brow).
We packed our bags, squeezed in a night on the town with our pals we hadn’t seen in months, and stopped at a favorite restaurant before catching our flight. Finally, after a multi-hour, three am layover in Mexico City, and another few hours in-flight to Chile, we stepped out of the air-conditioned terminal to a full on summer heat wave in the southern hemisphere.
No matter how tired you may feel, or how many time zones you’ve crossed, when you land in a place to start a three-month international adventure, you perk up when it’s time to explore. Our trip kicked off with new situations straight out of the gate, when we advance paid for a “taxi” at a stand, and ended up in a van meant for six, but filled with nine. I got the extra special seat in the front, next to the driver and his lady-love, and the next hour was filled with spanish whispers, and flirty giggles. We were the last passengers to be dropped off, so we received an impromptu tour of downtown Santiago by the time we arrived at our hotel. The space was beautiful, but the room sweltering, so we decided to freshen up and start the fun right away.
We found an amazing bar/restaurant joint just around the corner and posted up to enjoy some Chilean bites, and a variety of drinks made with their national beverage of choice, pisco. The thing with pisco, is that it doesn’t taste like it will light you up, but oh my, it will. Feeling warm and fuzzy post-dinner, we wandered the streets of Santiago in the still warm evening air. I’ll never forget watching the sunset that night, the feelings of freedom, adventure and awe coursing through my veins.
We only had one full day in Santiago before heading south, so we chatted up the other hotel guests at breakfast, and hit the streets with a list of things to do. Fans of an optional itinerary, we like to plot out a handful of destinations on a map, and explore them according to our travel mood. Since we’d just inhaled a big breakfast and were a bit jet lagged, we made Santa Lucia park our first stop. The dramatic climb to the top burned off our remaining early morning indulgences, and we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of Santiago, and its surrounding scenery.
From there, we headed to Mercado Central with the hopes of a delicious lunch of local seafood. While the market itself was beautiful and interesting, the prices and restaurant atmosphere reminded me of Fisherman’s Wharf here in San Francisco, so we opted continue on our way. We wandered around the fruit market, then slowly made our way back towards the hotel, weaving in and out of interesting buildings, and delicious smelling restaurants. We settled on a lunch spot, and proceeded to demolish one of the best meals we were to have in Chile. Afterwards, we headed to The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, reportedly the burial location of Saint James the Apostle. The building is stunning, and we spent a silent hour viewing the many alters, and standing before the crypt of Saint James.
After our visit to the Cathedral, we took the long way back to the previous evening’s haunt; this time on their very lively and entertaining back patio. We had a great time chatting about all of the things we’d already experienced during our first two days on international soil. The evening passed quickly, and with our 5 am taxi ride back to the airport right around the corner, it was off to bed. The next morning was a little rough, but after a year of planning, we were excited to finally stand near the end of the Earth, in Patagonia.