6 things you need to know before going to Santiago

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Santiago is a city that lives in our hearts. Maybe because it is one of the first we have ever visited, or cause all of the memories we have are filled with good surprises. Of course, the delicious food, the hospitable people, the organized city and the beautiful snowy mountain landscape are key factors for this great impression. However, Santiago has details that escape the eyes of its visitors, especially those on their first trip. Therefore, as we did with the Hermanos of Buenos Aires. Here are 6 things you need to know before traveling to Santiago de Chile.

The weather, the light… and the pollution

You may have already thought, “Everyone knows Santiago is cold, even I have a friend who went skiing in Chile.” Okay, but we’re not here to talk about the obvious. Santiago is an “island” surrounded by mountains. This stone wall turns the city into a large pot that conserves some of the heat and, simply put, protects ut against the Andean climate. As a result, even if a massive snowstorm hits the mountains, nothing comes to the most populous regions. It’s cold, but it doesn’t snow. Another consequence of this “pot effect” is that the pollution does not dissipate, being concentrated mainly in the drier months. Do not be alarmed if during a relaxing shower, after an exhaustive day exploring Santiago you see a crust of dirt in the corner of the bathtub. Finding black “material” after picking your nose is quite common, too. Finally, Santiago is one of the few Latin American capitals that can see the variation of sunlight during the year. For those who are used to living in Brazil or other tropical regions and get only 1 hour more of sunshine because of daylight saving time, you will be surprised to realize that at 9 pm is still clear in the Chilean capital, during the warmer months. On the other hand, 4 pm seems like bedtime during the winter.  

Protests in Santiago

As happens in Argentina with Buenos Aires, Santiago is the cultural, financial and political center of Chile. On second thought, most other countries are like that (aside from Brazil that isolates the rulers from the people with the capital, Brasilia)

This structure seems to make people much more politically active. Every time we visit Santiago, we witness protests. Workers, students, pro refugees … everything. So be prepared and change the itinerary accordingly, fortunately, we have not seen any become violent. But that happens and you won’t want to be in the Carabineros’ sights.

Aparthotels & Holiday Rentals in Santiago

Chileans are in the Airbnb business “before it was cool” There are thousands of vacation rental apartments in Santiago, specialist companies and even condos designed to serve those looking for lodging in the city. We have stayed in several of them, all following the same standard. Full kitchen, new furniture and generally very well located.

Our first experience was in Chile-Apart which is in the city center, next to a supermarket and the excellent Emporio La rosa. We also really enjoyed Hector’s Airbnb, who is a great host and has some apartments in the borough of Providencia. You can get a nice Airbnb discount in the here on the sidebar

The huge amount of stray dogs in Santiago

A very sad part that was always present when we walked around Santiago. The amount of stray dogs is staggering. A look in detail reveals something even more staggering, they are breed dogs. They were not born on the streets, they were abandoned.

I talked to several Chileans trying to understand the cause of this unfortunate reality and apparently, they’re dogs that have become “too big to live in apartments”.

The government has been trying to solve the problem by making animal abandonment a crime, but they are still far from solving the problem. Currently, there are more than 1 million stray dogs in Santiago.

5) Cachay, al tiro and the Chilean Castellano.

Chileans have very curious expressions that do not make much sense to those exploring Santiago and the Spanish language for the first time. To make it worse, they “eat” the letters when they speak. It takes a while to get used to the rhythm.

Alright, every Latin American country has its version of Spanish (except for the Argentina who practically speaks another language :P). But here is a small sample of Chilean Castellano.

Cachay: That has several meanings. Related to knowing or noticing something. Like for example, Do you know where the restaurante is? Tu cachay donde queda el restaurante? Or Cacha what a beautiful painting. It is also used a lot to confirm if something is understood, like this explanation, cachay? and even to refer to sex (Cachar).

Al Tiro: It means sharp, on time, no delays. As in See you in 15 minutes, al tiro. The origin is interesting. There is a cannon, in Santa Lucia mount, fired every day at noon to announce lunchtime. “What time are we going to eat? Al tiro

A lo pobre: Used to explain the accompaniment of some dish. In Santiago, anything A Lo Pobre (made to the poor) comes with eggs, chips, and onions.

6) Palta e os Restaurante típicos

Chileans love palta. No, better, the people here idolize this avocado baby food. They are served with a meal, hamburger, sandwich, hot-dog and even with french fries. The taste is very soft and oddly enough, it does not resemble guacamole at all. To avoid the risk of not liking it, ask your order with “Palta a parte” (on the side) it comes in a separate pot and you can enjoy as much as you want.

Another very curious thing is how typical restaurants, those serving a set meal, present the dishes of the day. Nothing like the basic menu with photos. This is too modern! Santiago leaves the menu aside and puts a window with the real deal. Exposed-food dishes that oddly attract customers. But in our case, made the opposite effect.

Now that you are a little more prepared to visit Santiago, take the opportunity to experience the taste of this city passing by the amazing Fuente Alemana and scheduling a Free Walking tour to learn more about the culture of our Chilean friends.

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