A spectacular 3-week stay in Santiago

By Marv and Carole Feldman
This article appears on page 44 of the November 2016 issue.
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Guidebooks, Internet postings and friends all raved about the spectacular road trip from Mendoza, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile. During our spring 2016 visit, we discovered that they were right! 

This 230-mile, all-day journey on the luxury (semi cama) El Rápido Bus took us through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. From Mendoza’s vineyards of green, we traveled across cactus-laden desert, through countless tunnels and past raging whitewater rapids, snowcapped Mt. Aconcagua (about 23,000 feet) and stark, moon-like terrain and mountains, finally arriving at the Los Libertadores border crossing into Chile.

There, the rigorous Chilean Customs and Border authorities, with guns and dogs, went about their work. We were told these formalities could take up to 14 hours, but we were fortunate that ours only took just over an hour. 

Even though the Chilean authorities charge huge fees at the Santiago airport for entry visas (for Americans, $160 each), the land crossing on the bus from Argentina offered free entry into Chile… and a more fascinating, scenic experience. 

Some of the hairpin turns encountered on our Andes crossing from Argentina to Chile.

Once in Chile, we continued down the slopes of the Andes, our driver safely and carefully negotiating the road’s 28 dizzying hairpin turns. Finally, eight hours after leaving Mendoza, we arrived in Chile’s capital, Santiago. 

Santiago 

It did not take long for us to get back into the “vibe” of Marvin’s favorite city. Having just spent two weeks in Argentina, we found a different atmosphere in Santiago. It appeared to be more relaxed and upbeat than Buenos Aires, likely a reflection of its relative prosperity.

We love to try to fit in like locals, and our Spanish skills helped us in our efforts. (When people asked us in Spanish for directions, we knew we had succeeded). 


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