Having traveled a but through Chile (though, admittedly, I missed some places I hear are worth exploring like Valdivia), I thought I’d share what I would consider a good itinerary for those with time (but not boundless time either). I will either expand on some of the items below in other entries or they have been covered already in entries I already made (true for the Atacama and Patagonia bits).
View in the Atacama Desert in the Valle de la Luna
Chile offers a wide range of landscapes due to the fact that it runs a long way in the latitude dimension, therefore, the climates along the country vary significantly. The presence of the Andes clearly has a major effect in the climate as well as provides a great backdrop to many of the places you should see (heck, sometimes it is not just the backdrop but part of what you will explore).
A trip to Chile typically starts of in Santiago, its capital, though one can enter the country from any of the neighboring countries in places like the Atacama, Pucon, the lake district, or Patagonia.
A good itinerary would cover:
- San Pedro de Atacama and nearby sites (4-7 days)
- Pucón and the Villarica area (3-6 days)
- Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego including Torres del Paine, fjords, glaciers, etc. (8-10 days)
- Santiago (a city is a city is a city but I find it worth exploring) (2-4 days)
- Valparaíso (add on Viña and its beaches but they don’t rank up there in my book) (2 days)
- Puerto Montt, the Lake District, and Chiloé (4-7 days)
- Mendoza (OK, this is Argentina but it is almost on Chile and easier to get to from Santiago than from anywhere else!) (2-3 days)
Readers, please feel free to add or provide other perspectives. I, by no means, saw EVERYTHING Chile has to offer!
NOTE: First timers in Chile have to pay an entry fee if they are from certain countries (not many) of which the U.S. is one. BEFORE you get to the immigration line, make sure you go to the line to pay this entry fee. Usually, there is airport staff asking for country of origin at the end of the escalators – they can direct you where you need to go.
I write this post in March 2011 when I started a project in D.C. We are near the end of 2012 and I am still on the project in D.C. It is neat to re-read what I wrote about when I first “landed” in D.C.!
I am lucky to find myself working in another great location. This is one much closer to home the last: Santiago, Chile. By about 8 hrs by plane. I am now in Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital and one of the most important cities in the world. The simplified and shortened commute is making for a happier me and a less tired body. Arriving at work after flying in is different than after the 9.5 hr red eye to Santiago!
I love D.C. because I feel the cosmopolitan nature of the city with embassies and international organizations everywhere. I feel the energy of probably many events happening here – without being aware of them – that can impact more than a few. Of course, one can also take the view that perhaps a lot of nothing happens here but I will leave that for other blogs and keep my opinions to myself though I will say there is truth to both views :) Again, I love this city.
Lots to Explore in Washington, D.C.
I am very fortunate that my work location is just 2 blocks from the White House and I get to stay generally within a 2 mile radius of that location which makes for nice walks to and from work and exploring different side streets and some of what I considerable highly desirable residential areas of DC. Longer walks can take me to Chinatown with the many good eateries and more touristy sites like the Spy Museum and others. A cab or rail ride away are other neighborhoods with very distinct personalities. one that I have recently been introduced to is Capitol Hills. Many eateries and a charming area with my favorite eatery being Belga Cafe where the mussels dishes are phenomenal.
Since I am here during the week for the most part, I have not explored the tourist sites. Having been here many times before, I probably have covered a good number of them. However, some I last saw in 1983 and others more recently but still a decade ago. So I will spend a few weekends here this year catching up on known ones and exploring the new ones. Of the places I have seen, the Holocaust Museum ranks up there as do the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the other memorials that have sprung in that area like the Vietnam Memorial. Of the places I haven’t seen, I hope to finally do a tour of the White House, perhaps see a session of Congress and maybe even a Supreme Court session. Of the museums, I would like to re visit the Smithsonian ones for sure. But I know there are smaller ones that are worth exploring.
This week I am staying in Rosslyn for a change. Normally I like to stay in downtown D.C. proper, like at the Mayflower Hotel. Tonight I wanted to go for a run and thought I’d run by the river, something I’ve wanted to do since I arrived here. I ran a couple of weeks ago from the hotel past the White House to the Washington Monument down The Mall to the Capitol. What a neat run! On the return leg, as we passed the White House, the Presidential motorcade was making its way back to the White House. That was a real treat. No matter what stripes you wear, the office of the President of the U.S. is awe-inspiring in spite of the occupants. Seeing the motorcade made me proud.
My Running Route
So today I ran across the Key Bridge down past the “new” waterfront in Georgetown towards Watergate and the Kennedy Center and across the Memorial Bridge to the trail on the Virginia side of the Potomac. I decided to bring my small digital camera with me and think I got some neat shots as the sun was lower in the sky and provided nice light. Some of the sights during my run:
Looking towards Watergate from the Key Bridge
View of the Georgetown Canal
Rowers in the Potomac
Lincoln and Washington Memorials
It was cold and especially when crossing the Memorial Bridge as it was windier. But the run was excellent and I even got to go by the famous cherry trees currently blossoming. Normally, I get bored running on my own but I have a feeling that will not be the case in this city! I am beginning to think running tourism should be a new travel category – I am looking forward to looking for new routes and exploring the area via my running, killing two birds with a stone.
What other unique ways can you think to explore new places?