And I’m back in the Southern Hemisphere! It feels good to finally have the seasons back in the correct order, but I definitely did not miss the cold. Apparently Melbourne has had one of the worst winters in a long time. I’m not overly sad that I’ve had to miss it.

The plane to Santiago wasn’t too bad. For the first time in my whole trip, I wasn’t late to a mode of transport! Please be proud of me, it’s quite an achievement. I had a layover in Miami briefly and by morning I was safe and sound in Santiago.

For the first time ever, I was alone abroad. I was nervous that I didn’t have anybody watching my back but excited I could finally do whatever I wanted to do. With my new found independence, the first day I decided to venture out and explore downtown Santiago.

Less than 4 blocks away from my hostel was the Plaza de Armas, a park which is considered on of the central points of be city. Surrounding the plaza, there were lots of promenades with shops (just like any other Spaniard City) and a fresh produce market. On my explorations I also remarkously stumbled upon the Cerro Santa Lucia. It’s an old Spaniard castle on top of a hill in the middle of the city. The whole block is now a metropolitan park that has a free entrance as long as you sign the guest book. The view from the top was nice and I was lucky enough to be able to see the snow covered Andes in the background as the visibility that morning was fair.

On day two I decided to push myself a little bit, follow my auntie’s advice and visit the coastal town of Valparaíso. Apart from getting to the bus terminal, I didn’t really have a plan. So I bought my ticket (around $10 for a return trip, 100km each way), boarded the bus and hoped for the best.

Valparaíso is a really beautiful town. All the houses are brightly painted and they are all built on top of the steep hills that board the sea. The streets are really windy and to reach some of the areas, go have to go by cable car. The only downside I had was that I didn’t check the weather before buying my impromptu ticket. I got off the bus and it was absolutely freezing. Everyone had massive jackets on and were covered from head to foot. I only had a knit cardigan and my high school scarf that I had miracously put in my bag the day before. Braving the rain and the wind, I was determined to explore Valparaíso.

Somehow I made it to the centre of the town. The random bus I caught from the terminal actually went in the right direction! From there I explored the dock and also one of the cable cars to the top of one of the mountains. From the top you can see all of the city but unfortunately the rain didn’t do the view justice.

The next day I continued with my high altitude views and went to the Cerro de San Cristobal. San Cristobal is the highest point in Santiago. At the top you have a church with a Christ an a panoramic view of the whole city. The morning smog unfortunately reduced my visibility but I still got some pretty incredible shots from the top.

My stay in Chile was really short. It was kind of a last minute decision to visit the country when I booked my return flights from the USA. There is still so much more to discover, so expect to see me again Chile!

– Nadia


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