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Brandon

I just spent about 30 minutes catching up on the blog. Just cost the firm a pretty penny.

Always a joy reading it Charlsie

david

charlsie,

i've been to chile...santiago in fact. perhaps sometime we can discuss it. drop me an email and i'll give you the run down on it. i hope you rip those finals a new one. have a good afternoon.

david acuff

David Kimpel

Okay,
First, let me explain... So you're wondering who this random creepy dude is reading your blog... Well, sorry, I was wasting time checking out my small group leader/friend's blog (Stewart Grace), and it linked to other blogs, which lead to Betsy's (don't think I even know her), which lead to yours. Was about to get back to work when I saw that you were planning a trip to Chile!
Great!
Just got back from Santiago 2 weeks ago. Fantastic time of the year to go! I spent some time in Buenos Aires, then Patagonia, then had 3 days at the end of my trip to explore Santiago and surrounding areas.
I rented a car while I was down there, and it was a great idea. Santiago is an easy city to get around, not nearly as crazy as Buenos Aires (do not drive there!). I got around by metro/taxi in the city, then took off on some day trips by car.
Santiago itself is not that big and fairly manageable. The city has some interesting sights especially around the center. East of the City (Las Condes) is clean and developped but less interesting. Definitely do not miss Cerro Santa Lucia, offering great views.
Outside of the city, I first went to Cajon del Maipo towards the Andes. There is a scenic road that leads southeast of the city through some vineyards and next to a canyon/river that flows down from the Andes. It was a pretty drive (wildflowers in bloom!), but the road eventually becomes a dirt road until it ends some 40km beyond at some hot springs. I was hoping to get to the hot springs but never made it - would have needed a 4x4 to get through a stream/runoff coming from melting snow. Long story short: complicated drive and only worth it if you have extra time and a good car.
The drive down to the coast is beautiful. Highways around Santiago have been/are being upgraded and so the drive is easy and fast. The drive down offers many scenic views, and as you come down the mountain about 15 minutes past the main tunnel, you arrive into Chilean wine country. There is a reststop midway (once you're in the first vast plain, and after this about 5 minutes on your right there is a winery/restaurant offering a nice break from the drive, even if you're just having coffee. Sorry can't remember the name but it's fairly obvious once you see it. New looking building.
I spent more time exploring Valparaiso than Vina del Mar, due to time constraints, but briefly Vina del Mar is more touristy, developed, and has a wealthier, resort city feel. Valpo is more of a port town, but definitely worth exploring for the bright colors and countless staircases leading up the mountainside. Remember that weekends in Vina del Mar see a lot of Santiaguinos coming for daytrips, so the place becomes packed and car travel around Vina becomes difficult...
Anyway, if you plan on heading down to Patagonia, everyone recommends Torres Del Paine NP. That will definitely be part of my next Chile trip, along with Tierra del Fuego. Amazing hiking and natural beauty apparently...
Okay, enough rambling.
Hope you enjoy your trip!
David

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