I soon changed hostels to one in a better location and that seemed to have a bit more ‘community spirit’. I met heaps of Aussies, Kiwis, Germans, Brits, Swedes, Mexicans and just about all the other nationalities of the UN. From the dry wit of Chris the tour guide who would often be found skiing down the stairs on an ironing board, to the delightful dance routines of Sole – this place had some spirit to it.
On my third day here I woke up to find that my left foot was red and swollen just under the arch and was quite painful when I stepped on it. I went to the doctor’s and went straight on some antihistamines for a possible insect bite. I found that for the next few weeks I was only able to walk for about 20 minutes at a time before my foot became too painful to bear. Am I the luckiest traveller or what? But the Bellavistians looked after me well, helping me find English speaking doctors, and helping me to get around in my limited capacity. I ended up staying there for 2 weeks waiting for my foot to get better.
Check out the Bellavista Hostel online at Hostelworld.com. It was my favourite hostel in all of South America!
When arriving in Santiago, check out the TRANSVIP shuttle service located inside the airport terminal. It’s cheaper than a taxi, and takes you direct to your lodging.
Don’t trust just any taxi at the airport or bus station. I heard and met many people who had been ‘stung’ or robbed by taxi drivers at these places. In other areas of Santiago, it did not seem to be a problem.
If catching buses to other cities, there are two bus terminals, the cheaper bus terminal is located across the road from the terminal next to the Universidad de Santiago metro station. Save up to 50% just by crossing the street!
I stumbled from the plane and onto the tarmack at the Santiago airport. The snow on the surrounding Andes mountains were doing their bit to chill me through. It was early afternoon, so I checked into my hostel and thought about sleeping as I’d stayed out all night in Rio and hadn’t quite managed to sleep on the plane. But after unpacking my gear, I felt a slight surge of energy that saw me walking out the door and down the street for a bit of a wander. That wander led me to a cafe with warm lights, steaming coffee and internet access.
Walking inside I used my Portuguese to speak with the waitress there and order a coffee. She asked if I was Brazilian and soon we were talking about our shared passion for Brazil. Thankfully her English was better than my Spanish, and we managed quite well to compare notes about samba and all things Brazilian. Evelin’s friends arrived at the cafe and soon I found myself surrounded by the friendliest Chileans in Chile. It’s not often you walk into a cafe and then walk out 8 hours later! We went out for dinner and then ended up going to a club to hear some great electronic music and attempt a dance or two. 44 hours after my last nap, I finally returned to my hostel bed just as the sun’s rays began to warm the icy streets of the city. What a welcome, and it was perfect to take my mind off my post-Brazil depression.
Go to the cafe across the street from the Bella Artes metro station in Santiago, for the BEST coffee. If you see Evelin, give her a hug and say the Brazilianaire sent you!
Highlights in Santiago: The park called Santa Lucia, Daytrips to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.
I’m such a tourist…
Have you ever walked around Sydney and seen the multicultural mix from everywhere? I’ve always loved the differences and unique perspective that each culture brings. But it also goes without saying that tourists always look like, well, tourists. With their daggy clothes or the Australiana paraphernalia draping from their necks down to the camera bag bulging with maps and local tourist guides. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure…
Well now I am the one that is wearing the daggy clothes, draping Brazilian paraphernalia wherever I can and ordering food in a weird accent with little success in making yourself understood and ending up eating whatever they happen to bring. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has just learnt a little English? Think of your reaction, the different things you said and did, and now put those characteristics into someone else who is trying to talk with you. It’s pretty weird being on the other side of it!
Some people say I have been brave to come here on my own. I don’t think so. Brave is the Brazilian girl who I met last year in Sydney. Renata spoke no English before she came, was traveling alone and was in Australia for around six months. She overheard me talking with my tutor Rafael at Sydney Tower. When we all went to eat something afterwards, she didn’t accept my offer to translate when ordering, she just jumped in line and used symbols and what little English she had learned to order her meal.
Most travelers will travel in groups or as families and have some connections at their destination, such as work organized contacts or relatives. But to travel alone is to rely on yourself completely. If you feel tired during transit there is no nap for you while someone watches your things for you. There’s you and no one else.
When you arrive at an airport, there’s no one to pick you up, to meet you or to help you get to your hotel. Actually, that’s not entirely true, there’s plenty of people willing to help you get to your hotel for four times the price!
From the two airports I have now arrived at, I realize that I shouldn’t grab the first option that comes my way. It’s usually quite heavily priced, and through my lack of understanding of the new exchange rate, I’m probably being ripped off completely.
In Santiago, the first price was 10,000 pesos for my taxi. I later learnt there is either a bus or an airport shuttle that I can order for around 2,500 pesos.
In Rio, the guy wanted me to pay 160 Reais, I knew the price was nowhere near that much for a taxi to my hostel and so talked him down to 50 Reais (which was still above the normal 40 Reais price)
Solo travel has its rewards at the same time… It keeps you focused and challenges your personal limits. You know that you and you alone can walk into a new situation and walk out the other side of it without too many worries.
You are changed as a person because your experiences only make you stronger if you don’t let them beat you, and also you have a better understanding about the different types of people that exist in this planet of ours.