A Work Trip to Santiago, Chile

While some people catch the South America travel bug, for me, it’s always been about Europe. I love history, architecture, and romance. Living in Amsterdam has given me the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places on the content, and I’ve been very content spending free time exploring my own back yard while I have the opportunity. That said, I am not opposed to heading south of the border, especially if it’s cold, dreary December weather at home!These photos are a bit outdated, but as visiting Santiago was such a fun adventure, I wanted to chronicle a few photos from the trip on the blog :) I actually didn’t know I was going to Chile until about 4-days before the trip. We were producing two different TV campaigns at the same time, and one was scheduled to shoot in LA and the other was booked for Chile. My boss had earmarked going to Chile, and so I was expecting to oversee the shoot in California. However, due to a few last-minute changes, it was decided that my boss would travel to the LA shoot. So, 4-days before we kicked off production, I found out I was headed to South America, and had to scramble to get vaccines and visas and all of that fun stuff for my work trip to Chile!

I’d actually been in NYC the week before while prepping for the shoot, so my travel to South America wasn’t that painful. One layover in Atlanta and a red-eye later, I had landed in Chile and was whisked off by taxi to the Noi, a posh hotel in the near the Avenida Alonso de Córdova in Santiago.As this was a work trip, I spent the majority of my time *surprise* working! But that said, when faced with the choice of working in a stuffy hotel room or up in the sun on the rooftop by the pool . . . well, you can guess where I spent the majority of my time! The Noi has a stunning rooftop with views of the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west.

Perched under an umbrella at a turquoise pool, I had the best of both worlds – in the heart of it all but fully engrossed in my own little oasis where time slowed down and there was just enough shade to get some work done :) While I didn’t get to leave the hotel much those first few days, the weather was fantastic and I did get to sample almost everything on the hotel’s rooftop bar menu. At Tramonto, the rooftop bar and terrace, I gorged on empanadas stuffed with all kinds of glory and huge goblets of ceviche (below) served with crispy pieces of bread for dipping. Towards the end of the day, I treated myself to solo cocktail hour which usually consisted of a pisco sour or other fruity concoction, accompanied by a book as the sun set. I know, rough life ;)

For dinner I tried to get out of the hotel so I wasn’t a total Noi-hermit, but I didn’t go too far as I wasn’t super familiar with the city and my colleagues hadn’t arrived yet. Although it was pretty smoldering temperature-wise, I stuck to neighborhoods I could walk to. On one night this meant I strolled an hour to Bellavista, and on my second evening alone, this meant I ate at an Italian restaurant across the street from the hotel ;) I couldn’t tell you where I ate in Bellavista, because I literally just walked around until I found the cutest terrace possible. Several people dining despite the ‘early’ hour cued me in that the food was probably half-decent – when a place is pretty packed at 7pm you know it’s good because most Chileans prefer to eat between 8pm and midnight! Although I took 5 years of Spanish in high school, I could only partially understand the menu, and took a gamble on a ‘carne’ (meat) dish and an ensalada (salad). I’m pretty sure the meal consisted of roasted pork with an herb sauce, a big pile of rice (okay, this part I’m like 100% sure of!) and a salad with tomato, lettuce, avocado, and another delicious white vegetable I’d never tried before.The following night I had a totally different experience. I booked a table for one at Da Carla (which was totally unnecessary because no one else eats at 7.30pm!) and had an outstanding Italian meal! I splurged on grilled squid, foie gras ravioli, and champagne. I’d been in Italy three weeks before for my 30th birthday, but ohh my god this was comparatively good :D I raved about the spot to my colleagues once they got to town, and they wound up going back another night for dinner (on an evening I was particularly dead and opted for room service). They said it was the best meal they had in Chile, which is saying a lot from a group of producers who are always in the local know-how.Other than working from the hotel, attending four shoot days, and traveling to and from the production house for meetings, I did manage to do two ‘touristy’ Chilean things. On the evening before our first shoot-day, I went for a long walk and wound up by Cerro Santa Lucia, a small hill in the centre of Santiago with a large park, beautiful fountains and facades, and many steep hills and steps for lunges! I cooled off from brisk walk with a slower trek to the top of the hill, and 15 minutes later was treated to some beautiful views of Santiago at the top.  The other activity I was lucky enough to do in Santiago happened on a whim. Before I travel anywhere, I always do a bit of digging online and make a Google map of the spots I’d love to hit up while in town. One day, after a few morning meetings at our production house, we had an hour’s break for lunch. I downed my plate of food quickly, and then had a quick look at my Santiago map to see what might be worth checking out nearby. To my delight, Centro Artesanal Pueblito Los Dominicos, a small village with local Chilean artisans, was literally a 5-minute walk from the production house! And so two colleagues and I had a little gander over to pick up some souvenirs and soak up the local sights.  The market had a range of exotic birds and even some that were for sale!  In addition, there were handmade plates, masks, blankets, baskets, sweaters, jewelry, wind chimes, belts, and shawls – literally any kind of handicraft you could possible want to take home! Before we left, we were encouraged to try a local specialty drink – the mote con huesillo, a sweet beverage made with a clear nectar, dried peaches, cinnamon, and husked wheat. With large, swollen peaches floating in the cup (these aren’t really a pretty sight!) we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the drink was cool and delicious (and thankfully non-alcoholic as we had a full afternoon of work ahead!)If you’re interested, here are a few other spots I didn’t get to try out myself, but would love to visit if I’m in Santiago again with a bit more time on my hands!

Barrio Lastarria – Cute neighborhood to check out with shopping and restaurants. Bocanariz is here and is a great wine bar to sample local wines.

Parque Forestal – Big, green city park with a Sunday market.

San Cristobal Hill – A beautiful hill to climb with great views of Santiago at top. It takes about 1.5hrs to walk up to the top but I hear it’s totally worth the view!

Central Market – A central market where you can shop like a local :)

Bandera – A street with some great second-hand shopping. Here’s a handy Google map I found online with different second-hand shops in the area!

Of course, I didn’t get to do a lot of things on this list as I was traveling for work, but that said, the shoot days weren’t really that bad either:

Unfortunately, the trip ended with a  . . . wait for it . . . 17-hour flight home! I didn’t even realize planes could fly in the sky for 17-hours straight, never mind direct from a southern continent on one side of the earth all the way over to a northern continent on the other! My flight left from Santiago, had a quick stop in Buenos Aires where we collected a few other passengers, and then flew straight back to Amsterdam. What a whirlwind time home, spending almost 24 hours traveling! I can’t even imagine what it’s like to travel to Australia or New Zealand on the complete opposite side of the globe – someday!

x Ali

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