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Is That a Hamburger Walking Around Santiago?

Is That a Hamburger Walking Around Santiago?

I like to walk. Whether it’s in a city street teeming with strangers, a fading forest path winding through fir trees, or a strip of sand cuddling up to an ocean shore – walking never fails to calm my oft fragmented mind. And since I left my family and friends behind, quit my studies to work at an education startup, and moved from Hamburg, Germany to Reñaca, Chile, mental exhaustion is a bit more common.

Though I love my work, there are times when I just need a break from staring at a computer screen. That is when I usually venture out of the office to take a walk along Reñaca Beach.

As I have now spent more than four months living here, I know my way around all of Reñaca and a good part of Viña del Mar. I was slowly running out of new places to explore, so when a friend and colleague invited me to his apartment in Santiago in mid January, I was more than ready to pack a week’s worth of clothing and join him in the bustling metropolis.



We took the bus from Terminal de Buses de Viña del Mar (two-way ticket from Pullman for CLP 7000 ~ US$11.20) and enjoyed the ride, accompanied by some pleasant conversation and appreciation of the scenic landscape. Because virtually all mid- and long-distance travel in Chile is done by bus, the fleets of all transport companies are modern and well maintained, with comfortable seats and enough legroom, even for foreigners usually exceeding Chilean average height. Depending on the company and the length of the trip you will be offered a cookie and a sandwich, “hecho en Chile” (made in Chile), though I recommend bringing your own food or buying something at the station before leaving.

When we arrived in Santiago it was around 85° F with the sun greeting us from a half blue and faintly smoggy sky. Because the city is surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides, heat and exhaust fumes are trapped in the Santiago basin inversion layer.

From the 17th floor in Vitacura where I stayed, you could make out only the mountains closest to us, but not the ones on the other side of the city, even though they are only about 20 miles away. On the street level you don’t notice it, as you are usually more occupied with taking in the varied surroundings anyway.

In Vitacura, which is the wealthiest living area in all of Chile (with an autonomous household income per capita of US$76,155), the surroundings feature beautiful parks, busy streets, glass and steel skyscrapers, and lovely houses – all within walking distance from each other.

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Vitacura & Las Condes from 17th floor

Parque Arauco (the mall next to Parque Araucano) is where you can do both your grocery and luxury shopping; grabbing a coffee to enjoy in the nearby park after spending your time at Tottus and Louis Vuitton. Though it also has an adequate selection of eateries like Tony Roma’s and the recently newly opened Vapiano’s, I would recommend Avenida Vitacura for dining in true style. Luxurious Italian restaurants next to elegant sushi bars make for an atmosphere more casually tasteful than the mall’s rather packed rotunda.


Costanera Center & Gran Torre Santiago

In 35 – 45 minutes of walking you can also reach Costanera Center in Providencia, the biggest mall in South America, with the Gran Torre Santiago, the second tallest building in the southern hemisphere. All your shopping needs can be met here.

There’s also a nice balcony strip on the 5th floor with a beautiful view of the city – an ideal spot for a leisurely relaxed conversation on your date with a beautiful Chilena, after you’ve had a frappuccino at Starbucks (which is what I did).

Continued in A Hamburger with Drinks & Helado en Santiago

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