1. Purchasing cheap fresh fruit and veggies at the countless Vegas throughout the city.
Why wait in endless lines at the Líder when you have La Vega? You don’t even have to go to THE La Vega to find a Vega. The colorful fruit and vegetable stands cover almost every street corner. Filled with everything from ripe mangoes to fresh, red peppers, there’s no need to spend more than a few mil for your entire collection. Not to mention you’re supporting local business.
2. Eating Chorillanos at 7am after dancing all night in Bellavista.
You pre-gamed with piscola for three hours before deciding to dance your heart out at Bar Constitucion, where you swapped piscolas for pisco sours, tequila shots, whatever really. Sound familiar? There’s only one way to cure that all night pisco bender: the Chorillano. The greasy French fry, steak, and egg combo soaks up your hangover like pedialite cures a child’s cold. When you leave Chile, though, you leave this only known hangover cure behind. Good luck.
3. Stand alone ice cream vendors are everywhere.
Not since childhood has it been this acceptable to have an ice cream cone everywhere and anywhere. Businessmen and children alike fawn over the stand alone McDonald’s shops while tourists head to Emporio La Rosa for their fix. It doesn’t matter where you get it, but ice cream is BACK!
4. The stray dogs need your loving.
If you’re taking a casual stroll down Providencia, chances are you have a friend or two following you. Santiago’s lovable stray dogs are the most charming street characters in the city. You begin to adopt them as your own, feeding them and giving them shelter during the winter.
5. Affordable and delicious wine is everywhere.
After living in Chile, you realize your wine addiction anywhere else in the world is going to cause you to go broke. You need that top-notch bottle of Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon, only 3 mil at OK Market. Santa Rita Vineyard, where you can bike around the vineyards while sipping the nectar of the gods is only one colectivo ride from Los Heroes metro station. Purple mouth is perfectly acceptable any time of day. Embrace it while you can.
6. You take the Andes Mountains backdrop for granted.
You feel like you’re in a movie set when you look past Santiago’s skyscrapers to the Andes looming in the background. The view is most transcendent after rainfall, when the smog clears and the snowcapped peaks shine a brilliant white over the city. When the sun sets, it reflects off the snow and the colors are almost florescent with pinks, oranges, and purples.
7. It’s easy to adapt to the perfect weather.
It’s hard to be sad in a place where the sun shines almost every day. Even when the locals threaten that winter is coming and thus the rainy season, the days of actual all-day downpour, drenching rain happen enough to count on one hand. From September to May, the days are warm, ranging from 17 degrees in spring and fall and up to 39 on the balmiest of summer days.
8. You’re always prepared for when that perfect weather gets confusing.
You always keep a sweater, jacket and a pair of leggings in your backpack. While you’re gallivanting around town sweating during your daytime commute, once the sun begins to set, it’s suddenly freezing outside and you actually welcome the warm bodies spooning you in the metro at rush hour.
9. Pisco, piscola, pisco sours!
You probably didn’t taste your first pisco until you arrived in Chile and now you can’t stop. There are so many cocktails to blend using this untamed, earthy grape brandy — from the original pisco sour made with lemons, to the albahaca (basil) pisco sours. You become accustomed to sipping on the Alto del Carmen and coke (piscola) everyone brings to your asados. Even when you have ten bottles on the table, someone always has to make another run to the store for more. Yeah, you’re going to need one of those chorillanos to soak these up.
10. The Chilean asado is an art.
After experiencing the casual leisure with which Chileans make an asado, you’ll never want to return to the business of the American cookout. Spicy peppers, ceviche, guacamole, and grilled corn are just the starters. You get used to the men preparing eight different cuts of meat, from chicken to ribs, and everyone shares the end product, one bite at a time. The men spend hours marinating and grilling the meat so that it’s tender enough to practically melt off the bone before you can even take a bite.
11. Walking through the quirky streets of Lastarria feels like a secret Chilean Europe.
Lastarria’s vibe is different than the rest of Santiago. It’s riddled with fancy restaurants, gelaterias and coffee and wine shops. It’s an escape from the chaotic streets of Plaza Italia and Bellavista and a great spot to write at tiny cafés and sip wine surrounded by the cobblestone sidewalks and busy vendors.
Empanadas aren’t easy to give up, especially when they’re available fresh from the corner bakeries and street vendors. The flaky crust and cheesy insides, sometimes filled with crab, ham, or chicken make for a quick, cheap, and filling meal.
13. The wild juxtaposition of the great outdoors can make for an interesting weekend.
You become accustomed to doing whatever you want to do outside on weekends. Regardless of what type of nature person you are, it’s possible to trek to the mountains and ski during the morning, have lunch in the afternoon in Santiago, and drive to Viña del Mar for a beach sunset.
14. Valparaiso’s gritty street art is awe-inspiring.
Taking a funicular to the top of Cerro Alegre takes only a second but you can spend hours immersing yourself in the street art surrounding the tiny seaport. Its myriad colors and raw designs represent the city’s soul: historic, urban, and bohemian. The view of the port from the restobar Fauna is almost as addicting as the artsy path that leads you there.
15. You will never forgo sunscreen again.
The depleting ozone layer is real life. You keep sunscreen on your person at all times. After spending one day on the Chilean coast, you know that while the water and the breeze are frigid, it’s you who will be crispy if you don’t apply at least 50 SPF every hour.
16 Liguria sandwiches are everything.
You spend many a night at this iconic Chilean restaurant surrounded by the colorful graffiti and live Cueca performances. The cuisine ranges from Chilean to Italian, but the sandwiches are what your palate savors. Maybe you went into Liguria craving the Milanesa Parmesana sandwich, but you had to “settle” for the Sandwich de Mechada a la Italiana (they never have everything listed on the menu) and you weren’t even mad about it.
They must know how addictive they are, too, since you can find one of these restobars in Pedro de Valdivia, Manuel Montt and Tobablaba.
17. There isn’t one month during the year that you don’t have a Friday off.
Thank you patriotism and Catholicism! You get used to four-day work weeks for most of the year. Most residents can’t tell you why they don’t have to work, but no one cares because you can jet out of town to La Serena or Pichilemu and escape the smog for a few days. That is, unless it’s Fiestas Patrias. Then you want to stick around for the countless ferias, Cueca dances, and asado celebrations.