Overnight flights are a joy.
Especially for two tall people. Just the very idea of folding myself up like a pretzel for 8 and a half hours while breathing recycled air fills my heart with dread. But this flight was different. I'm serious. Even though I ripped my neck pillow (pictured top left) within 5 minutes of boarding the plane, which proceeded to cover me and Kristen with a white layer of styrofoam, and even though the guy behind me had his knee jammed in my back the whole flight, I was beaming.
We were going to ride through South America on a motorcycle.
We arrived in Santiago at 11:30 AM and were immediately introduced to a rugged and arid landscape. Right before we landed, we saw a series of dirt paths zig-zagging their way up a hill and Kristen tentitively asked, "Is that what were going to be driving on?".
Even though I didn't say it at that moment, man, I hope so...
Right after getting off the plane, we were ushered towards a separate line from all the Chileans to pay a reciprocity tax.
$280 for the both of us.
Apparently, the USA charges Chileans the same thing when they come to visit so I suppose its a fair deal.
We did a few other chores, which included searching for the tire we brought at the baggage claim, exchanging money, going through Adana (Customs) and some other security points, finding a taxi...
...and we were finally in Chile!
Our taxi took us straight to a hotel that Kristen had booked before we left. We admittedly decided to splurge because we knew we wouldnt sleep on our flight and we wanted our first night to be stress free. So, we chose the Meridiano Sur in the Providencia district.
It is really a lovely place in a good location... but the price is a bit holy crappish. Probably not worth it but I don't feel guilty for a celebratory first night.
Click HERE for a panoramic of the lobby (great to view on an iPhone).
We then proceeded to do something kind of dumb... at least for us. When we visited New York City this past fall, we found ourselves missing stops and heading the wrong direction on many occasions. We got lost. A lot.
So what was the first thing we did when we hit Santiago?
Hop on the subway.
Amazingly, all went smoothly other than a bit of a translation mishap at the ticket booth (for those interested, "boleto de ida" means one-way ticket). Off the subway we headed straight to the Mercado Central - a huge market full of vendors hawking all sorts of fresh seafood. Smelly but picturesque.
NOTE: Speaking of pictures, it should be said that up until this point we had been taking photos with nothing but our cell phones. We left the majority of our gear with the bike so all we had was one camera body and a portrait lens. Doh!
The architechture is really beautiful and a wide-angle lens would have been great, but alas, it was not meant to be.
Click HERE to see a panoramic of the Mercado Central (great if viewed on an iPhone).
On our way out we noticed a huge Texas...I mean, Chilean flag hanging from the rafters.
We then did a fairly extensive walking tour in the heat of Santiago where we saw the old meet the new...
...famous buildings that we probably should have known...
...a wonderful old train station that would have eaten a wide-angle lens alive...
Click HERE to see a panoramic of the station (great if viewed on an iPhone).
...various types of street art...
...a really beautiful cathedral...
...and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. Apparently Santiago is known for its street dog population. We personally loved it and could have spent way too much time shooting pictures of them, but according to a few people we met, they arent something that the average Chilean enjoys.
After several hours in the sun (it was over 90 degrees) we headed back to our place, napped for a few hours, ate a filling meal of Churascos (chopped beef, huge portion of tomato, mayo and avocado between to fat chunks of bread) and relaxed a bit on the patio before crashing.
Tomorrow we pick up our bike and the adventure begins!