Santiago, Chile: Planning to Get Out of Town for the Weekend [Days 50 – 54]

Day 50 | Monday, December 12, 2016

The first work day in a new city. Steve is off to a new office this morning and I will be hanging out at the apartment trying to get acquainted with our new country via the internet. We have decided that this weekend we will be venturing to Valparaiso which is a town about 2 hours northwest of Santiago on the coast. I need to figure out where we can buy bus tickets because you can not buy tickets from Chilean bus companies online with a foreign credit card. Plus I need to isolate down a list of things we want to do while in Valparaiso.

Valparaiso was once one of the richest cities in the world during the heyday of the port which was a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. In 2003 the historic quarter was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is known for its bohemian flair, colorful buildings, crazy architecture and historic funiculars. It is home to Chile’s legislative Congress and the headquarters of the Chilean navy as well as an educational center for the country.

Based on reading a few bloggers I am going to use Turbus to get us from Santiago to Valparaiso. 

See schedules and prices for Turbus online.

Explanation of various seat types available on Turbus.

Luggage restrictions for Turbus.

I found this article helpful in getting information about bus travel in Chile.

To buy our tickets we will be going to Terminal Alameda ahead of time. Terminal address: Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 3750, Santiago, Estación Central, Región Metropolitana, Chile

Day 51 | Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The To Do List for Today:

  • Research restaurants
  • Research things to do in Santiago
  • Research Grocery stores/Health Food stores
  • Figure out where Sky Airlines office are & what their hours are
  • Research things to do in Valparaiso

So, the first two items on the list got ignored but I did make some progress on the other items.

For health food stores I found this blog post to be helpful. I am hoping to check out the following stores while we are in Santiago. I am hoping they will be little gems like the ones we found in Lima. 

Organisk Supermarkets S.A. Andrés de Fuenzalida 91, Santiago, Providencia, XIII Metropolitana de Santiago, Chile

La Chakra Av Mariano Sánchez Fontecilla Av Mariano Sanchez Fontecilla 534, Santiago, Las Condes, Región Metropolitana, Chile

Fortunately for us, Sky Airlines is just a few minutes walk from our apartment. Their offices are located at Paseo Huerfanos 815, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile and a phone number for them is +56 2 2632 9449.  I can’t find business hours for them anywhere but assume that Monday – Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm should be a safe bet.

Here is the list of interesting things to do in Valparaiso that I have come up with.

La Sebastiana Museo de Pablo Neruda
Héctor Calvo 692, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
$6,000 CLP per person

Museo Maritimo Nacional
Paseo 21 de Mayo 45, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
$1,000 CLP per person

Palacio Baburizza (Fine Arts Museum)
Monte Alegre, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
$4,000 CLP per person includes audio guide service

Museo de Historia Natural de Valparaiso
Condell 1546, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
Free Admission

Villa Victoria
George Washington 33, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
$10,000 CLP per person (Cash)
Tours available in English, Minimum 4 people.

FREE Valparaiso Walking Tours

Graffiti & Street Art Tour
Meet at Plaza Anibal Pinto in front of the Neptune Statue, Guide wearing Valpo Street Art Tours t-shirt
Includes: English Guide
No reservation required
Free (tips)

Meet at Muelle Prat, no other information or indication of which guide to look for.
Includes: English Guide, Funicular/Ascensor fee and Trolley/Electric bus fee (does not run on Sundays)
Recommend RSVP by contact form on website
Free (tips)

Ecomapu Travel
Meet at Great monument in the Plaza Sotomayor, Guides with green t-shirt.
Includes: English Guide
No reservation required
Free (tips, suggest $4,000 CLP per person)

Ecomapu Travel
Meet at Great monument in the Plaza Sotomayor, Guides with green t-shirt.
Includes: English Guide
No reservation required
Free (tips, suggest $4,000 CLP per person)

Steve is coming home early from work today so we can head to Terminal Alameda to purchase our bus tickets to Valparaiso. Given that it is 88 degrees outside and the terminal is about an hour walk from our apartment we are taking an Uber over there. Traffic is crazy in Santiago, as it is in most large cities, especially during hours when people are heading to or from work and around lunch time. As we are nearing the bus terminal the traffic has exploded. It is a chaotic snarl and our Uber driver is now confirming where we want to be dropped off and wanting to know our end destination on the bus. We let him know what we are heading to Valparaiso as he is pulling over in a gas station across the street from the bus terminal to let us out. He pointed in the direction of the bus terminal on the right side of the street and gave us some guidance as to where to go. We thanked him and hopped out. We crossed the street and headed toward the Turbus sign. Finally after making our way through the building we ended up at the bus loading zone and found the ticket booth. The signage around it seemed to be advertising airport shuttles so I was a little confused but finally worked up the courage to approach the booth. In planning for this little outing I wrote out on what day and times we wanted to depart for Valparaiso from theTerminal Alameda and when we wanted to return to Santiago from Valparaiso along with the expected prices. We started what has become our usual routine and explained that we don’t speak Spanish very well and asked if she spoke English. She does not speak English so we used our small Spanish vocabulary to communicate our request and handed over the note with our desired ticket days and times. The departure from Santiago I had found online supposedly wasn’t available so we ended up on a slightly earlier and more expensive bus to Valparaiso but at the end of the day it isn’t a big deal. Once we procured our tickets we scoped out where we would board the bus and then headed out on foot back towards our apartment. Unfortunately, it is hot out and the sidewalks are beyond crowded with people thus making for a very impatient Steve. As we are whipping in and out of people on the sidewalk at lightening speed I am not getting to scope out much of the city. I am still not feeling very comfortable walking around the city so I am trying to stay as vigilant and as close to Steve as possible. Finally the crowds are thinning out some so we can slow down a little as Steve’s patience level rises. However, I am feeling like I wasn’t missing much. Santiago is a filthy city and really isn’t that attractive to look at. We captured a couple of city shots but not much.

We finally made it back to the apartment after our hour long walk and I am so thankful for air conditioning. Thus concludes our adventure for today.

Day 52 | Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Today is a day where I am feeling the desire to shut myself away from the world and not leave the apartment and so that is what I will do. My attitude about Santiago still needs an adjustment and I know enough about myself to know that when I reach this point sometimes a day to myself with no contact with the outside world is a good thing to get me back on track. Steve is heading into the office and I am content in our apartment.

Day 53 | Thursday, December 15, 2016

After a day to myself I am feeling a bit more like giving Santiago a chance. Steve has done more research than I have on things to do in the area and he has come up with a couple of museums that are close by to check out. The plan is he will head to the office this morning and then when he comes home for lunch we will take a little break to check out the museums. 

About a 10 minute walk from our apartment are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museo Bellas Artes. They are next door to each other and the entrance to both is free. 

After a quick bite to eat we hit the sidewalk and headed toward the museums. First, we approached the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is housed in an impressive building built in 1910. All in all an ok museum but I should be honest I often don’t connect with modern art so it is not surprise that I didn’t enjoy it. Second, the Museo Bellas Artes. It preserves and disseminates the largest collection of heritage art in the country. Again, not really my thing. There was one exhibit that was of interest to us and we have a couple of pictures below.

Day 54 | Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Friday! Today is a day of packing and preparing to hop on a bus tomorrow morning for a weekend away. I am trying to suppress my nerves as we prepare to tackle the Chilean bus system. I am hoping for a good weekend away from the city.

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