Chile is an interesting winter destination for us from the north. The middle parts of Chile and its capital Santiago offer 30 degrees Celsius in January with a dry sunshine, making it more bearable than for example the humid hot Southeast Asia. The port town of Valparaiso offers beautiful scenery with colorful architecture, culture and steep hills and the nearby Andes spoil you with stunning nature experiences. The only drawback with Chile is that it is so far away that it takes a while to arrive. But when your plane descends to Santiago, you can see the mighty Andes below you as a pretaste of what is to come!
Santiago has no world-class sights, but the possibilities for interesting day trips are countless, especially to the Andes. Santiago is a vast city so even a stubborn pedestrian as myself I had to use the metro, which is quite nice actually. Walking around in hot January might sometimes be very exhausting. Chile is quite a large country but almost half of its population lives in Santiago, which sometimes is very visible as traffic chaos. As a tourist you might wish to learn more in-depth Spanish than the usual phrases, since the Chileans rarely speak English and you will find yourself in situations where communication is needed. The waiter might ask if the tips should be left out from the already prepared bill with tips, the waiter might ask if the tips should be added to the credit card payment or the waiter might ask if you want to pay your credit card payment as part payment or without! In Spanish. In all those cases, there were misunderstandings and from my point of view the wrong kind of payments…
Chilean food is quite seasonal and during hot January lighter meals are preferred. For example ceviche from neighboring Peru (a fresh, citrus-marinated raw fish) is delicious on hot days. During winter heavy grill meats (churrasco) or meat stews (for example plateada) are obvious choices. Fresh tuna or salmon or seafood are always good choices in this seafaring nation. We also had delicious cakes and refreshing fruit juices, but with the food you might wish to enjoy the reputably good Chilean wine.
This time we visited only central Chile, but maybe we will return to the Atacama desert in the north or to the glaciers in south (Patagonia). Or perhaps to Easter Island, which belongs to Chile!