Santiago: bright lights, big city
After visiting the quirky La Serena, the lively Valparaiso, and the charming Pucón, Santiago wasn't a place I was too thrilled to visit. I blame this on the few "mehs" I got from fellow backpackers and the lack of eye-catching activities on travel guides. They were both wrong, I'm afraid.
Vibrant, energetic, cold as hell, big and bougie. This is how Santiago presented itself to me for over a month in 2017. I was volunteering at yet another hostel, and my online gigs were pilling up, so I didn’t have the chance to explore everything that was available to me. The places I visited, though, were breathtakingly beautiful and full of such a nice energy. For the first time after I left New York City I felt like I belonged somewhere. *sheds a single tear*
What to do: with a population of 5+ million, some people watching is mandatory while you take a stroll down the city. All joking aside, take some time to soak it up the country's history and their struggle against a military dictatorship at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights;
visit the cobbled streets of Barrio Lastarria for some artsy stores, coffee shops, antiques, and all-that-hipster-jazz;
forget about Sky Costanera and head over the Metropolitan Park and/or the Bahai Temple for stunning views of the snow-covered Andes;
eat as much sopaipillas as you possibly can, especially the ones that are sold around the market La Vega Central. Yummy and cheap. Cheap and Yummy. Did I say yummy?
Where to stay: Bellavista is a dope area, full of street art and great nightlife; Yungay is more traditional and near the historic attractions. On the other hand, Providencia is a more upscale choice that includes great restaurants. There's honestly so many nice barrios to choose from, you better do your homework prior to just booking something last-minute.
Safety: overall, I felt super safe in Santiago as a female solo traveler. But it's good to exercise caution. I fell in love with the Metropolitan Park and, even though I was advised not to go by myself there, I did the longest trail by myself (Mapuche+Atacameño), twice, without any problems. The same goes for the Bahai Temple. I went there by myself, after hearing it wasn't a great idea, but fortunately I only have great memories of that day.
For digital Nomads: this is DN-heaven. Lots of co-working offices, amazing coffee shops, high-speed internet on hostels, parks, malls, museums.. You'll never have to worry about missing a meeting or delivering a job on time.
Weather: I'm a tropical Brazilian flower (oy), and as such I did not handle the low temperatures very well. I was there in May and people were laughing at my face, because apparently it gets way worse. So, I did what any sensible person would do: I traded the freezing capital for the scalding hot desert of Atacama. And I regret nothing. I'll talk more about this crazy exchange on the next update!