AussieNomads Chilean Adventure 2019 travel blog








Upon arrival we had to go to a special counter only for Australian nationals and pay a $US117 reciprocity fee. Odd isn't it that we have to pay the Chilean Government $117 in US currency (not in their own currency) and the notes have to be in IMMACULATE condition or else they WON'T be accepted. You can't believe how many $US notes the official rejected before finally accepting some. They either had tiny tears or tiny marks so were rejected. We never considered checking the notes when we ordered the US currency before we left Australia. As Graeme used his British passport to enter Chile only I needed to pay the fee.

From the airport we used a city shuttle service to take up to our pre-booked for three nights city apartment in the old centre. Oddly there was some issue with the address and we were dropped off somewhere else and pretty much left to fend for ourselves. Not a great start. We ended up walking a couple of blocks to the exact address on our confirmation however it appeared via a very difficult google translation with the concierge that our booking didn't exist and the building number had been "orphaned". Whatever that meant! We ended up checking into a nearby hotel (Hotel Espana) for the night for $US60. Once we got online we checked our emails and there was a message from our original three night hotel advising the booking had been cancelled due to an issue with the gas and water. We aren't too sure what happened and hopefully we won't get charged for it! We got through this minor setback with the assistance of many helpful Chileans along the way - who with hardly any English took the time to use their mobiles to look up maps and phone the accommodation on our behalf.

Hotel Espana is near the bustling Plaza de Armas which has been considered the symbolic heart of Santiago since the city's founding in 1541. In colonial times a gallows was in the centre, today a splashy fountain celebrating the liberator, Simon Bolivar is much more tasteful. The plaza is heaving with people and there are buskers, artists and various snack stands scattered around. Around the perimeter are parallel pedestrian precincts and some grand old buildings including the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the Historical National Museum and the main post office.

We have our first schops (draught beer) at one of the outdoor eateries and start to unwind as we people watch.

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