How do I get to Calama and the OSF?
Getting to Calama and the OSF
- CSV and scientists assigned to Chile should contact Suitay Chang
and Marcela Miranda
, +56 (2) 467 6600, to make your arrangements to get back to the airport for the trip to Calama. Administrative, IPT and other employees should contact Carola Lara
. They will also book your flights to and from Santiago. Before going to the airport, you can check in online
(if you are using LAN airlines to get from Santiago to Calama). If you want to check any bags, do so like you would at any other airport. If you are traveling with only what you think is small enough to be considered a carry-on, it may not be according to LAN standards. It appears that the restrictions for carry-on bags are higher than on US carriers because not only is there a size limit to the carry-on bag but also a weight limit. Check out the information page
and especially the baggage conditions before getting to the airport.
After you have checked all your bags and obtained a boarding pass, you will proceed through the domestic terminal security. Before going through security there are several places to get some food. Once you pass security and are in the domestic terminal, your options are more limited to where you can purchase food. There are a couple small Cafe's, a Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks in the domestic terminal past security. If you want/need anything else, you need to get that before going through security. Also note that if you are taking the 6:30AM flights, many of these places will not be open when you arrive at the airport! For example, the Starbucks near the gates does not open until 6 AM.
After passing through security in the domestic terminal, you have the option of using the VIP Lounge called the Pacific Club
. To get in, you can pay $25 or if you have a Diner's Club credit card, that will also get you in free of charge. If you are an NRAO employee, you can obtain an NRAO corporate Diner's Club card. The card will be in your name and you will get the bills if you incur any charges but it will allow you to get into the lounge free of charge.
Where should I stay if I need longer-term accomodations?
The OCA and NRAO have arrangements with several hotels in Santiago. Please contact ( Ann Edmunds
for recommendations and reservations. Recommended hotels include:
- Americo Vespucio Norte 22. 30 minute walk to office, but is right at the Escuela Militar Metro stop, so very conventient. Wireless internet, cell phone, fully furnished, laundry on bottom floor. Can be direct billed.
- same building as above.
Hotel Noi, Vitacura
. "Across the street" from HQ.Can be direct billed.
Can be direct billed.
- There are laundry facitlities at the OSF. If your apartment building in Santiago does not have a laundry on premises, there are many laundromats in the city; the rate for a load of laundry is about 5500 CLP.
- If you go shopping at the Unimarc or any other grocery store, note that the baggers are not paid employees but work only on tips. A typical tip for bagging is between 200 and 300 Chilean pesos (CLP) but may be more depending on the number of bags. As of July 30, 2011, the currency exchange between Chilean pesos and USD is: 457 CLP = 1 USD. Note that Vespucci Suites kitchen is very basic. One may borrow pots and pans but the refrigerator is a mini-fridge type and inadequate for e.g. keeping frozen food safe while one goes to the OSF.
- It is highly recommended that you use your Debit card for making transactions. Inform your bank before you go; some banks will phone your home to see if the charge is valid and of course you are not there. You use your ATM card like any other machine except that after you enter your pin number there will be a "Foreign Exchange" choice which is the last choice at the bottom left of the screen. You can then chose English for your language to continue. NOTE: the maximum amount you can take out per day is 200,000 CLP
! If you try to get more, they may still charge your bank but you will not get the cash. The fee is typically 2.5% of the total withdrawl.
- Good rule of thumb: keep all your valuables back home. In addition, keep your laptop with you.
Transportation (Getting around Santiago)
You can obtain a bus/subway card (called a bip! card) at the Escuela Militar subway station, which is one of the closest ones to JAO, and perhaps the easiest one for a pedestrian to reach. It is about a 35 minute walk from the JAO (east on Alonso de Cordova, then south on Americo Vespucio Norte). The station is under the east side of this busy street, but you can cross underneath from the west side of the street through an underground pedestrian tunnel filled with eateries. Note that the automatic card machines at this station have a button for "English" (but not all stations do).
The minimum cost for a card is 5000 peso (about $10), which includes the initial card fee and is good for about 8 or 9 rides on the bus or subway. You can just insert paper money if your bank card does not work. Entering the subway is the same as any American city, you place your card briefly on top of a reader on the turnstyle until the display illuminates. When boarding a bus, there are yellow boxes mounted on the pole behind the driver at which you place your card against the bulls-eye target until the light flashes. The remaining balance is displayed briefly on both the bus and subway box. If you have to transfer buses, there is no additional charge as long as you exit and board the next line within a certain time window (something like an hour). You can recharge your card with money at one of the orange card machines at most stations.
To plan your trips on bus or subway, a good site is www.transantiago.cl
. It uses Google maps as the interface (click "planifica tu viaje", then "directions"). It tells you the bus number(s) and bus stops (paradas) or subway stops to use, and the current arrival times. When you are outside, you can use the phone app Transantiago Master
(a.k.a. tsm) to see where the closest bus stops are to you, and learn how many minutes the next bus is from your stop. But note that buses and subways are really crowded during rush hour.
Further notes about buses:
- The bus stops are not announced or displayed (like they are on the Boston MBTA for example). So you really need to know where you plan to get off ahead of time. There are green buttons to request a stop.
- It probably helps to look at the area around your destination on google satellite to see the building layout. The bus stops do have prominent signs (white letters on black background) that list the lines that stop there.
- The buses display their number in lights on the front and back, and on a white card on the street-facing side.
- If you need a taxi, a useful phone app is EasyTaxi (easytaxi.cl). It uses the GPS in your phone to place your location on a map, and you simply press Request taxi, and within minutes a taxi will appear.
- Even if you don't have a data plan, you can enter your address manually and Request taxi from inside your apartment using WiFi before going outside.
- The name of the driver, type of car and license plate is sent to you as soon as the vehicle is assigned. To learn the typical price you should pay for a taxi trip, this web site is useful: http://www.taximetro.cl/
What kinds of things are there to do in Santiago?
ALMA Staff members working in Santiago have been offered the opportunity to participate in some of the ESO Vitacura recreational activities. Most of the classes include a modest fee, paid to the instructor. Examples of some activities include:
Tango classes - contact Luz Camucet at luz at eso dot org
Soccer and Volleyball leagues - Claudio at cmeo at eso dot org
Yoga - contact Laura at venturalventura at eso dot org
Tai Chi - Paulina at pjiron at eso dot org
Climbing course - contact Laura at venturalventura at eso dot org