December 17, 2005
Before I left Vina del Mar, Shannon and Cote felt that they should give me a little reminder of home, so we went to Ruby Tuesday's. It's an American restaurant like Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Chotchkie's, and Shenanigan's. There was lots of flare everywhere, and there was even an NBA game on TV. Just like at home! I got a big juicy BBQ cheesburger and fries, and then I found out about the best part of the restaurant: free refills on soda! It was a great way to say goodbye to a town I really enjoyed visiting.
In the afternoon, I took a bus to Santiago. The capitol city is about 90 minutes from Vina, and the area between the cities is filled with vineyards. Somehow, I had always pictured Valparaiso being a suburb of Santiago, but it's actually quite far away.
When I got to Santiago, I took the metro all the way across town. It was really nice and clean, and it felt safe, unlike some of the other metros I've visited. I had to change to a brand new line toward the end of my trip. It looked like it came straight off the set of Star Wars.
I'm staying with Katty, who has a great apartment in Las Condes, an upscale neighborhood just outside of central Santiago. Katty is another great CouchSurfing host. I'm officially hooked on the website now. Katty had to do some major studying for an exam, so I left her alone to go and explore the town.
A month or so ago, Morad, who I had traveled with for the first three weeks of my trip, returned to South America. He worked his way across the continent from Buenos Aires, and he was now in Santiago with his girlfriend, Helene. I went to meet him at his hotel room.
Morad and I did some catching up, and he told me that some friends from Santiago that he had met in Buenos Aires were going to meet him tonight as well. They turned out to be really fun people, and we spent several hours hanging out in Bellavista, a trendy neighborhood with lots of bars with outdoor seating. Eventually, we went to a karaoke bar, where we proceeded to slaughter a dozen or so pop songs in both English and Spanish. I had a great time, and it was a good way to begin my stay in Santiago.