So Santiago made the top spot in the New York Time’s “Place to Go in 2011
There have been a few expat responses to this honor/curse. You can find two of them at Bearshapedsphere’s blog and Titleless Sara’s blog. Though I won’t give an in depth analysis of the decision, I’ll throw out some of my opinions.
Let me start by saying, I don’t believe Santiago deserves that spot. Yes, Santiago is safe, economically thriving, and cultural, but I don’t think it should have been #1. Why? First of all, Santiago is just another bustling metropolitan city and for travelers coming from the US, it’s not practical to fly half way across the world to visit it. For me, there is nothing special enough here to pay for a 1000USD flight from the US. Secondly, Santiago is not Chile. Chile has beautiful desserts, islands, and glaciers, therefore why is Santiago on the list and not San Pedro de Atacama or Pucon? If they had listed Chile as a country on the list, I wouldn’t have contested one bit.
Then comes my ideas of what travel means to me. I prefer to travel somewhere exotic (different from the US) or, if I want a city with museums, art, and history, I’ve got a list of ones in the US I still need to see. I also like to travel cheap. Santiago is not exotic. Like I’ve said before, it’s probably the least exotic place in all of South America. It’s also not cheap at all. Not what you would expect. One of my gringa friends went back the US for the holidays and confirmed everything in the supermarket in California was cheaper than in Santiago except for milk and fruit/veggies. A Chilean commented on another gringa’s response to this article and seems to have agreed with me. He said,
“If you want something metropolitan, go to Europe!, if you want some exotic and cultural infused place, go to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Perú or Bolivia. And if you want to know the end of the continent, Argentina is just fine, and have better costumer service and food.”
What he says is true and he even offers options to replace other destination within Chile (which is possible too, though I think Chilean Patagonia is worth seeing). I’m not saying this just because I have lived here for 5 months and have gotten used to it’s “exotic-ness”. After living in San Diego for 3 years, I would recommend it as a travel destination over and over, but Santiago is just “normal” to me. Yes I like living here and there are cool things to do and places to see, but not a #1 type place.
Check out the rest of the destinations that made the list, pretty random, no? Maybe they were just trying to be the most unique list of the year or maybe they were catering to a different type of traveler than myself.
Now… Am I happy it made the top spot? Yes. I’d like to see more tourism here. I would like people to get to know what it is like here. To realize it’s not some third world country. Or even to realize Chile is in South America, not Europe.
Do you agree? Does the city of Santiago deserve the #1 spot in all of the world? Would you recommend the city you live in as a top travel destination?