Santiago, Chile – Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Chile is one of many places that do not figure that highly on most peoples ‘must visit’ list. However, Santiago which is set in the fertile Mapocho valley at the foot of the Andes offers a number of things for those travellers willing to make the trip. The first thing that one notices about Santiago is that it offers an abundance of fine views. It’s no wonder that conquistador Pedro de Valdivia chose this spot to found the Chilean capital in 1541, after an exhausting journey south across the Atacama Desert from Peru.
Great locations come at a price, though. Having been established in territory occupied by native Mapuche, Santiago was razed by the locals just six months later, and in the following years was plagued by wars. The last century was no less troubled, with the 1973 coup and brutal regime of General Pinochet casting a 17 year cloud over the nation. There are many memorials to its ‘disappeared’ citizens that are still visible across the modern capital.
Today, life is very different. Chile is economically stable and its capital one of the safest in South America. This also translates to its streets, where the metro is clean and efficient, sleek malls jostle colonial buildings and it has an exciting dining and nightlife scene.
Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is located about 15km north west of the city centre. Travel here used to be hard with stopovers needed but British Airways started direct flights. These began in January 2017 and take just short of 15 hours from London Heathrow making this a more reasonable trip. Just make sure you are awake about an hour before landing and try to get a window seat so that you can enjoy the views as you fly over the Andes.
British citizens do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days. However be sure to keep the paper you are given on arrival as you will be required to hand it in as you leave. In Arrivals, there is an information booth, various currency exchanges and ATMs. While most tourists arrive in Santiago by plane there is the option of a dramatic bus journey across the Andes from Mendoza, Argentina. This is an eight hour trip and costs around £30, it is remarkably scenic, eventually arriving at Terminal de Buses Santiago on Avenida Bernado O’Higgins 3850.
At the airport getting to the city is easy. Always steer well clear of the drivers touting for business in Arrivals and instead head to one of the official taxi stands to ensure you pay a fair price. The Baggage and Arrivals halls play host to a choice of companies. The major ones being Transvip, Delfos and Taxi Aeropuerto, that will charge a fixed rate upfront. On average, you will pay about £28 for a private transfer to the city centre, or £10 for a shared drop-off. Two bus lines operate routes from the airport to the city centre. Centropuerto and TurBus services leave from Arrivals and charge £3 one way.
Continued part 2
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