As already alluded to, I had organized a private day tour with Mario for my first Saturday in Santiago. It ended up being a lot more eventful than planned and I learned another travel lesson…
Don’t panic or make decisions when you are barely awake… I had been working every day since I had been in Santiago and it was finally Friday night so, instead of being responsible like I should have been, I kept changing venues and got home at some wee hour of Saturday morning. I had obviously forgotten to set an alarm or ask for a wake-up call I realized when the phone rang and I scrambled for it, telling the person on the front desk that I would be down as soon as possible.
I am very polite so was going as fast as possible so Mario wouldn’t be stuck in the lobby waiting for me for long. It’s good to be polite but I definitely learned it’s also good to not rush and really think before making a rash decision. I looked in my evening purse and couldn’t find my passport. This has never happened so I went into full blown panic mode in my semi-awake state.
You always feel more vulnerable in a foreign country, especially if English is not widely spoken. So I thought it was brilliant to have Mario help me call the embassy to report my lost passport. At the time I thought it had been stolen since some people had befriended me in a nightclub and you hear these stories…
In the end, it was all an embarrassing and expensive debacle! I searched the room when I got back to the hotel at the end of the day and discovered I had just put it in an unusual place but it didn’t matter. I had already reported it so spent about one and a half days at the Canadian Embassy in Santiago (the staff were amazing!) and freaked out myself and some of my friends… but did learn a few new things, including how to use the metro so I wouldn’t go broke taking taxis back and forth to the Embassy.
The point of this story, though, is that, if you do something really dumb like that, you want to spend the day with Mario 🙂 You want to spend the day with him even if you don’t. But it felt like an extra gift to have a friend to talk to when you are freaking out in a foreign country.
The forgotten wake-up call and passport debacle meant my day with Mario was cut short a bit so we couldn’t see as much as I had hoped but we had a really nice day all the same.
We started the day with a visit to Emiliana Winery. It is definitely recommended. There are quite a few wineries close to Santiago. I would have liked to visit more but our late start took that opportunity off the table. Something to do on my next visit to Santiago 🙂
We then had a great seafood lunch in Miramar at a place Mario obviously frequented regularly.
There were two highlights of the day. One was our lively conversation about Chile, Canada and our respective lives. I taught Mario how to pronounce entrepreneur. He is one of my growing camp of travel industry entrepreneurs I have discovered in emerging markets. They are the impressive young generation who will help to transform their countries, which you should visit to support them.
The other highlight was Valparaiso. Today it is one of those cute places that attract flocks of
tourists. Its history though fit in nicely with my Chilean odyssey. It was focused on the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn. Valparaiso is a seaport and is still a major city in Chile but, before the Panama Canal disrupted the passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it was a major stopover point on that journey.
In the 20th century it was able to reinvent itself and emerge as a center for cultural and educational endeavours. The streets are terraced and there are many colourful houses as well as copious street art so it is a delightful place to wander and get lost. (Mario will have your back and make sure you find your way back to the car 🙂 There is also a funicular that will take you to the top of the hill for the spectacular view of the neighborhood.
Just ask at the Hotel Ismael 312 to arrange a tour with Mario. You don’t need to follow my itinerary but I would definitely recommend considering Valparaiso.
Leave your passport in the hotel safe 😉