We arrived in Santiago, Chile this morning. The weather here is spectacular - 80 and not a cloud in the sky (except the unfortunate haze from polution). The flight into Santiago is quite breathtaking - as the plane flys towards the city, the Andes mountains loom outside the left side of the plane, and in fact the plane is flying lower than the top peaks for the last 30 minutes of the flight.
We were met by a local representative of Lindblad at the airport, Liliana. She is a high school English teacher who guides in the summer break (now) to practice her language skills, which were excellent. The last time I was in Santiago, the drive from the airport to the Sheraton Hotel took about an hour in extremely heavy street traffic. However, since then (2004) a tunnel through the center of the city reduced the trip to about 10 minutes.
We're staying at the Hyatt Regency in Los Condes, a residential neighborhood dominated by high-rise apartment buildings. The hotel is quite lovely and modern with a stunning glass atrium and a beautiful pool surrounded by gardens. We took advantage of the summer weather with a dip in the pool. We then walked 2-3 miles to Los Dominicos, an old Dominican church which now has an associated crafts market. We browsed there (no sense in buying anything on day 1, just to lug it to Antarctica and back). For dinner, we went into the center part of Santiago, a neighborhood called Barrio Lastarria which had a very Parisian feel to it. We dined at Don Victorino, a hip-seeming place on the main strip in Lastarria. We then returned to the Hyatt, with Emmy going to bed and Matt staying up to listen to the ND-USC game via the internet. The outcome was less than perfect.