The first thing I crossed off my bucket list was visiting San Antonio. San Antonio is a port town on the east coast of Chile, about 1 1/2 hours away from Santiago city. I wanted to visit San Antonio mainly to visit my exchange friends there (shoutout to Lachlan, Safi, Sophie and Mila!), but also to travel Chile and explore this beautiful country more.
Due to the travel time, the day started very early. I caught the metro into Santiago central at 7am and met with two of my exchange friends, JJ and Aya from the USA, at Santiago central bus station. To get to San Antonio, because it’s quite far away, you have to buy tickets for a coach bus. The tickets are relatively well-priced; $6800 pesos ($13.50 AUD) round trip. On the bus we all just slept, as an early start in the holidays is not fun.
Arriving in San Antonio we met up with another exchange student, Safi from the USA, and we had a little look around. San Antonio isn’t really known as a tourist destination and is home to mostly working-class families. The coast of Chile is also quite a bit colder than Santiago, which Safi did warn us about, but I wasn’t quite prepared to go from 25C to 15C overcast and windy so quickly.
Safi’s host family then drove us further onto Llolleo (pronounced yo-yeo, and not with a horrific Australian accent :p), a small town on the coast, a bit further south than San Antonio. We walked through the town centre and a few parks, making our way to a little quiet spot Safi knew about on the coast. Most people don’t know that Llolleo and San Antonio actually have beaches, the general idea is that they’re just ports for shipping boats and everything, and so these beaches are quiet and almost deserted. Safi took us to one of these beaches, and it was so serene and beautiful. A part of the beach was a bird sanctuary, and so there were hundreds of birds flying around happily. I’m not sure of what the name of the beach was, but that’s probably for the best, best to keep it a secret.
We headed back into the town centre and met up with other exchange students; Lachlan from New Zealand, and Sophie and Mila from Quebec, Canada. We had lunch in the town centre, where I had arepas for the first time. Arepas are originally from Colombia, and they are these corn and wheat pocket things (for a lack of a better description) filled with meat and veggies. They were absolutely delicious.
After lunch, all 7 of us took the microbus to Santo Domingo, a bit further down south again. Santo Domingo is known for its black sand beaches, rocks and sand dunes. I had never seen sand dunes before, and so it was an amazing experience being able to walk through them to get to the beach. I do have to say though, I’m still finding black sand in my shoes and it’s been over a month since I visited. The water on the coast of Chile is absolutely freezing, so no one else wanted to swim. But I was not as rational as everyone else and decided to go for a swim in the waves. Not only did I freeze my word-I-can’t-say off, I was also attacked by the waves, and upon the descent of my totally gracious wipe-out by the waves, I was ever so kindly greeted by the rocks of Santo Domingo. I came away shivering and with a few cuts up my legs, but a grin from ear to ear and no regrets.
After a quick toe-dip in the water, we all went back through the sand dunes to Santo Domingo town centre. I would say that we all walked back, however, Safi and Mila both had the amazing idea to roll down the sand dunes, and none of us want to think about where all of the sand went. We made our way back to San Antonio, and JJ, Aya and I said goodbye to Lachlan, Safi, Mila and Sophie and headed back to Santiago by bus.
Overall, it was an amazing day with amazing people, and I would definitely like to go and visit again. I hope you enjoyed reading and have a great day! xx