Southern Chile had been amazing thanks to the abundant natural beauty and the people, but certainly not the towns and cities themselves. They had seemed to get worse the further we moved north. So, after hearing that Santiago wasn’t worth any time, I was expecting the worst. I ended up there because it was the cheapest destination from Puerto Montt, and because the bus ride across the Andes to Mendoza is supposed to be spectacular. I assumed I’d be there for a quick day or two and head for the greener pastures of Argentina.
I walked out of the metro station to warm and sunny weather, palm trees, live music in a shady plaza, people riding bikes, and the energetic buzz of a city with places to go. It seemed clean, well-dressed, cosmopolitan, artistic, young, friendly. And it was the first time since starting this trip that I no schedule. I went to a few museums and (gasp) a church, partied until 6 am, watched El Classico in a bar full of Madrid fans, and went to dinner with a nun-turned-lawyer. I spent four days there, and enjoyed all of them.