5 Things I learned on my recent trip to Chile…

November 23, 2011

I recently had the opportunity to visit Chile for the first time.  The New York Times voted Santiago as the #1 tourist destination for 2011 so I decided to see for myself.  It was a 3-day trip and I planned to make the most of the opportunity given the 8-hour flight each way.   
Highlights of the trip included…

-a Bike and Wine Tour that included visits to Concha y Toro and the Fevre wineries with Paseos en Bicicleta (in partnership with Santiago Adventures)

Concha Y Toro Winery Visit


Santiago half-day bus tour that included toured the city.  (During this bus tour, it was apparent that Santiago is in the middle of a building boom.  Cranes are everywhere in the downtown area and there is a 1500-home housing project under construction on the outskirts of Santiago.  The tallest highrise in Latin America is nearing completion…77 stories!!)  This is incredible to me given the amount of seismic activity the area experiences.  During last year’s major earthquake in Chile the “Titanium” skyrise, which was completed a few years ago,  weathered the quake without a single broken window.  This is a testament to the advanced building practices that are now employed for these hi-rise office buildings.

5 Things I learned about Chile…

1)  Chileans view time through the prism of major earthquakes (similar to how we in South Florida view time according to hurricanes).  Ie  “I came to Miami right after Andrew.”  The difference is that, in Chile, the earthquakes are named by the year in which they occurred.

2)  Chile does not have as much older architecture as cities like Lima.  My cycling tour guide from Paseos en Bicicleta (who is also an architect) stated that the adobe construction material of older buildings does not fare well in earthquakes.  He also explained that adobe houses have very heavy tile roofs to counteract the lateral motion of earthquakes.  The idea is that downward force of the heavy roof will be stronger than the lateral motion of the seismic waves, thereby keeping the adobe structure in tact.

3)  The hi-rise buildings in Santiago seem more advanced (and green) than any buildings I have seen in the States or elsewhere.  One glass office tower in Chile literally has plants growing out of one entire side of the building.  According to Andres the architect, the purpose is…

a) to prevent sunlight from entering the building during the hot summers when the leaves are in bloom (reducing cooling costs inside the building)

b) to allow sunlight into the building during the cool winters when the leaves have fallen in off the building facade (reducing heating costs inside the building)

Talk about a green building!  Brilliant…no?

Green Building in Santiago, Chile


4)  According to my guide, Chile has the purest form of a free market economy in the world.

5)   I felt safe in this city.

It was a wonderful trip.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

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