After three movies, a few chapters of a book and a poor attempt at trying to sleep, I made it to the Chilean capital; Santiago. A bit bleary eyed I jumped off the plane and proceeded down to immigration.

Thankfully not being an Australian I didn’t have to pay the $117US entrance fee. A gentle bit of payback against Australia's immigration rules for fellow Chileans.

Once through I grabbed a taxi to take us into the city. This came to around $US 35. Alternatively you can take the bus and then change to a train which would cost $US 7 each. Being still a bit sleepy the taxi was best.

Rather than grab a hotel room I decided to rent an apartment. Giving me a bit more space and better value for money for the centricity of an inner city location.

First thing I did when I got there was to fight the tiredness and get my bearings. One of the things great about Santiago from a tourists perspective is how easy it is to navigate around. The city is divided into a grid pattern with each intersection.

Santiago does have a hop on and hop off tour bus like most cities, but with Santiago being so easy to navigate we didn't see the need for it. But that didn't stop us using their bus route map for our own, thus ensuring I visited all the best places the city has to offer.

With the population at over five million, Santiago is the commercial hub of Chile. The city is divided up into a number of sections, or districts. But as a tourist you tend to know them as:

- the shopping area
- the dining out area
- the touristy area
- the markets

Admittedly it is a little simple, but when you go there you'll know what I mean.

Now on my bearings trip, I grabbed a coffee. Now I have an expectation that on this side of the world they will know how to make a good coffee. Interestingly it can be a bit hit and miss. Fortunately that wasn't at the first place I went.

The coffee shops in santiago I would describe as a mixture of American dinner and a bar. The diner in part because of the polished steel and the outfits that the waitress wear and the bar because there are no seats (though I know you do get seats in many bars). Both outside and indoors were many tables and bars where locals would lean up to them, grab a coffee, and catch up with friends or business.

Purchasing a coffee is a little different than normal too. You have to make your purchase at a separate cashier area manned at the centre of the door, where you will be given a ticket. With this ticket you take it to the bar area and the staff will make your coffee for you.

The coffee was quite bitter but very nice. Most people here take sugar with their coffee (from what we saw, and from the look of horror from one lady in another shop when we asked for it without sugar).

I finished the day in the dining out area of the city. Across the river were a mass of restaurants serving all different kinds a food from around the world. In fact it felt quite difficult to locate a place that serves just nice looking Chilean food rather then serving other touristy Americano needs.

More about food in later posts :-)

See ya.

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