Today I gazed out at the breathtaking city of Santiago from atop the tallest building in all of South America. This was all thanks to CIEE and our CIEE Leader who arranged a day trip for my five fellow high school abroad students, and me. We spent our day trip tooling around this beautiful, bustling city.
Our day began at 8:00 a.m. as we met at the bus station in Valparaiso for our hour and a half drive. As tired as we were, the excitement of the trip kept us from sleeping on the way. Well, that and a stop at Starbucks for coffee when we stepped off the bus in Santiago!
Our first destination was the Plaza de la Ciudadania. The building’s architecture was absolutely stunning. It was a magnificent and serene palace lined with pools of water standing among deep green grass, in the midst of a restless city. This is the workplace of Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s president.
Next we took a short walk to the Paseo Bandera. This was a precious little pedestrian-only street in the middle of the city. A four hundred-yard-long stretch of asphalt was painted in vibrant colors that snaked around in random twists and swirls. The colors were so bright they even reflected off of certain walls along the street as well.
Our stomachs were rumbling by the time lunch came around. Luckily our CIEE Leader showed us to a delicious restaurant called Ciudad Vieja. We ordered freshly squeezed juices, french fries, and all different types of savory sandwiches. We spent our time discussing our plans for the rest of the day, and more importantly, having delightful conversation about our experience Chile, and our lives in general. We really are blessed that our group gets along so well and has become so tight-knit. We are like a family :)
Our next stop was in the historical neighborhood of Barrio Lastarria. This darling area reminded me of a European city. With its cobblestone streets, cute coffee shops at every corner, and various parks in the middle of lively avenues, this was by far the most charming town I’ve visited in Chile thus far. Here, we had free time to explore, shop, and eat on our own. A fellow exchange student, Rachel, and I explored the neighborhood together. We bought some clothes and ate ice cream in a quaint park filled of ivy and greenery we stumbled upon by accident. It was such a beautiful neighborhood.
Finally, we arrived at Sky Costanera, the tallest building in all of South America. To be completely honest, I’ve seen much taller buildings in New York and Chicago, but that doesn’t mean the view wasn’t exceptional. The building offered a three-sixty view of Santiago from 300 meters above the ground.
Sadly, our amazing day came to a close after our trip to the Sky Costanera. I can assure you that after our long day of walking and exploring, everyone slept on the bus for the return trip. We arrived at the bus station in Valparaiso at 8:30 p.m. and parted ways. I owe CIEE a huge thank you for organizing such a wonderful trip – we are so lucky to have opportunities like these!