I arrived in Santiago mid-afternoon and the airport Wifi wasn’t working properly, but thankfully I was able to order an Uber with whatever signal I had. I asked someone where the Uber pick up section was located (since I knew this was a thing at airports, you have to walk away from the taxis and arrival drop off areas) as it is still illegal in most of the South American countries. I walked to the area the person told me to go to and this woman yelled my name. It completely threw me off guard that she knew who I was as I was looking for a specific license plate in this parking lot and so my backpack fell off my roller and this other guy yelled to me but I ignored him and then turned around to realize my bag had fallen off so I was basically a mess. In that moment, I realized I shouldn't really ignore strangers as much as I'm used to - sometimes they're actually trying to get your attention for your own sake and not theirs (I assumed it was just another taxi driver trying to get me to take their taxi). Anyway, I asked the lady who she was and she explained that she was my Uber driver and that it was illegal for Ubers to sit in their cars and wait so she had to park in the parking area. I checked the app and her name matched and I looked a little more into the app to ensure this wasn't a scam and I looked around and it did seem like this was what was the only section Ubers could really come to since there was no "Uber pick-up" area so we walked to her car and I had to sit in the front seat so it wasn't suspicious.
It was a beautiful sunny day driving around Santiago, definitely had a different feel than Buenos Aires. I arrived at my hostel which was in a hopping spot, a lot of young people walking around since it was near a university (Caro-the girl from Santiago I had met in La Paz, Bolivia must have recommended it to me). Thankfully my room was ready early and I was able to relax and go explore the rooftop which was freaking awesome because it had a large platform to practice yoga on and lounge chairs for napping. It felt amazing to sit out on the lounge chair in the sun with the best view of San Cristobal (Christ statue on top of the mountain overlooking Santiago) and then the view of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the city. It made me super happy to be able to sit in the sun on a rooftop with no distractions - being in the sun with the cool air was everything I needed that afternoon. I finally showered and felt like a new person, talked to my mom for an hour and then went to grab some dinner close by. I ate outside at this restaurant surrounded by bars and lively people walking around. I ordered the empanadas which were big and fried but sooo yummy with different stuffings inside each of them ranging from seafood to meats. Then I ordered the famous chorrillana which was this huge bundle of French fries topped with beef and an egg. Totally a South American thing with these eggs in every dish! It was a nice night to relax and go to bed a bit early. Finally caught up on sleep, had some breakfast (included with the reservation) then walked to the San Cristobal funicular which is this elevator-type train that takes you to the top of the mountain. It was a perfect day as I walked around and was inspired by the beauty of the crosses with the snow capped mountains in the background and views of Santiago. I saw these signs for a drink called “moteconhuesillo” and was intrigued so I ordered one and sat and admired the views as I sucked-up this delicious corn fruit drink - one of my favorites and I wish I had ordered more. Then I walked to the center of Santiago to the parks and barrios with graffiti spots that Caro had also told me about. The parks were so beautiful, set in the middle of the city, with tons of young people hanging out, practicing dances, and just relaxing. It was a different life-style, very calming and nice to experience. The park in the center (Cerro Santa Lucia) had an old palace and stunning views at the very top, with many couples walking or picnicking in the park, very sweet. There were also tons of people in general in this city, lots of nicely dressed or business type and otherwise, not so nice, or homeless. As well as a TON of graffiti along the bridges and buildings, never seen that much in various parts of a city like that. I walked around many markets on the sidewalks, similar to Ecuador and Peru and then tried to buy a SIM card (which I ended up getting for free somehow). I finally made it to the main Plaza de Armas which had a ton of people walking around from tourists to locals and people trying to sell things or perform for money so I went to get some soft served ice cream (very popular) and then walked to the Central Market that was filled with seafood! I ordered a Reineta fish and salsa that was delicious and tried my first native beer that was alright. I was super full afterwards and walked back to my hostel to do some sunset yoga that was absolutely stunning with the best views of the the Full Moon that was in play. I had planned to meet Caro at this seafood restaurant that night so I showered and we met up with her and then went out for drinks afterwards. I tried the Chilean wine and Chupe De Jaiba (cheese cup with crab meat) as well as bucanero (different types of pastries) and borgona (strawberries with wine) soooo much food, then went back to my hostel a bit late (was planning to meet up with Caro again a week or so later). I slept in and didn’t make it to breakfast but thankfully asked for a late check out as I had bought a bus to Valparaiso (coastal town) that was leaving at 12:45pm. I left around 12pm and got to the station with only 10 minutes to get my ticket. It was hectic and I was freaking out because I didn’t want to miss the bus and there was a long line, but thankfully it moved quickly. I was confused by where to go to catch the bus as I thought I had to scan my ticket to go outside but it was actually to go to the metro and this nice young female teenager tried explaining this to me. I finally realized where I needed to go and got on the bus (just in time) and was on my way to Valparaiso.