Mon 20 Jul 2009 7 °C
It’s the end of my first day in Chile, and time for the summary of my impressions.
I arrived to Santiago around 10:30 this morning, paid “reciprocity fee” of US$132 (guessing that’s how much Chileans pay to enter Canada) and passed through the passport control without any questions asked. Of course immediately after that I lost something (no surprise - happens all the time), baggage tickets this time. Luckily, this is South America, regulations are bent often, so nobody prevented me from walking out of the duty-free zone. There in the main airport hall, I was pleasantly surprised by the calm atmosphere not typical for a large Latin American city. Other than a few cab touts nobody bothered me. Anyhow I exchanged a few dollars into pesoses and as oer arrnegement set in advance, called Gustavo who I found quickly. Knowing someone and not knowing anyone in a given new city was again proved to be an experience as different as night and day. With Gustavo on my side, I disconnected my brain immediately, boarded the bus he found, and arrived to Santiago center in ½ hour. Gustavo by the way recognizes some 20 English words, so I figured that talking to him I would be placed on an express speedy Spanish course. I am doing awesome with Spanish by the way, only 3-4 repetitions are all it takes for me to get the point.
I instantly liked Santiago, as it unbelievably reminded me of my homeland cities, with the architecture, pedestrian walkways, and busy squares - Belgrade above all, just a little more grandiose version. Thinking of my eventual future life here I realized that the idea would be totally realistic with a higher level of Spanish.
The day was weather wise lousy, cloudy and smoggy. It got quite cold in the afternoon, temperature fell to 4C, which is not that bad considering winter is in full force now.
Worse that cold outside, was the cold in my hostel “Plaza Londres”. It is centrally located in a nice and quiet European looking street and looks great from the outside. On the inside looks pretty run down, but it is clean and staff are friendly and helpful. I am here only tonight, and tomorrow I am moving to another place where I booked 6 nights. Will be interesting to compare the two accommodations.
Tonight I walked around the center a bit, I felt pretty safe, and other than a chase after one kid done by two older guys, I haven’t seen anything suspicious or unusual.
Still not everything is this normal, it’s close to midnight now – there are some kids playing soccer underneath my window- yeah this doesn’t happen in Canada.
Centropuerto bus airport – Santiago center US$3
1 bedroom (shared bath) Hostal Plaza Londres US$20