Getting the Most Out of My Experience
A long long time ago, precisely the second of June, 2011, Corinne Smith arrived at my doorstep in Santiago, Chile. Before she got here, I of course was busy thinking about where to go and what cool things I could show her in Santiago. With this being a travel/adventure blog, I began to create a list of things to do and see in Santiago. OF COURSE the list was never quite completed as I had planned out due to lack of time, and sat all this time, accumulating virtual dust in the ‘drafts’ folder tumblr kindly provides. I present you the list, still a work in progress… I mean, how do you create a list of the best places to see in one short little jaunt? These places, although very telling, only give a visitor a small lens with which they are able to observe and for fleeting moments perhaps experience and be apart of the culture that is Santiago de Chile. I present you, dear reader, with small pieces of my crazy life.
Introduction to original entry…
So one of my best best best friends in the world, Corinne Smith, is coming to Santiago, Chile! I’m so excited! She arrives here Friday morning!! Her upcoming trip got me thinking about the best places to see in Santiago. My recommendations:
1. Cerro San Cristóbal: Parque Metropolitano, aka Cerro San Cristóbal is a beautiful park and hill located in the center of Santiago. Spending an afternoon exploring the winding senderos of the cerro is something that you must do if you ever find yourself in Santiago. You can take a funicular up to the top of the Cerro from the Pio Nono entrance (400 pesos) and on a clear day, see stunning views of the city below.
Views as I walked up the winding streets of the Cerro:
The Cerro has two pools, restaurants and is a great place to picnic and watch the sunset. It is also a great place to work out- ride your bike or run or walk to the top. The cerro provides a natural refuge from the concrete metropolis. On Sunday, there is only one lane open to cars. The other lane is for bikers, runners and walkers. There are free fitness classes in different parts of the cerro at around 10am.
Smog :( The best views are after a rain.
Corinne y yo at the timbre, or summit of the cerro with the Virgen de la Immaculada
Freedom and Happiness. I love this photo. In September one of my best friends, Lindsey came to visit me! It was AWESOME! :)
This of course was after my digital camera was stolen in Argentina while sleeping on a night bus. Photo cred: Lindsey
fotos de Lins
Lindsey y yo!
The next two photos were taken with my cheap, fun, plastic red camera and scanned…
Sunday morning bike ride up the cerro con la Tarah
The camera takes wonderful photos.
Arriba: foto de Tarah
abajo; fotos de Tarah
and a dorky one to finish…
2. Cerro Santa Lucía
Cerro Santa Lucía is one of my favorite places in Santiago. Its crooked paths meander and weave around and up the cerro. It is a beautiful layer cake of arquitecture and imaginative outdoor landscaping. It’s also a very romantic spot and couples and PDA abound. At the foot of Santa Lucía, Santiago was officially founded on February 12, 1541 by Valdivia. The cerro boasts a fort, Fort Hidalgo (built in 1820 for defensive purposes), which of course inclues a castle. I really want to live there… One can dream. Events such as weddings and parties are held in the castle now. In 1872 the city decided to do something with Santa Lucía and the mayor enlisted 150 prisoners to transform the barren, rocky outcrop into a fantastic public park. (Information from Tarah’s Rough Guide: Chile) Apparently, it has ‘baroque terraces and turrets.’ There are many ways to reach the top, all involving climbing up rocky steps. But the 360 views when you get to the top are fantastic. Definitely worth the climb every time! Ha!
Arriba, foto de Lindsey
Free tours at 10am on Saturdays, beginning at the Alameda entrance.
Below: Photos taken by Lindsey
abajo: fotos de Corinne
The yellow fountain is part of the Plaza de Neptune and one of my favorite parts of the cerro.
3. Plaza de Armas
The heart of Santiago, the center! No Latin American city is complete without their own plaza de armas. Of course, Santiago is no exception.
The Plaza at night
abajo, foto de corinne
abajo: fotos de Francie Panchie
me with the Mapuche statue
4. La Moneda
La Moneda is the Chilean version of the White House. According to a tour I went on through the EAP program eons ago, the current President does not reside in La Moneda but does conduct business there. You can schedule tours ahead of time in both Spanish and English. Be sure to take photos with the guards! ;)
5. Barrio Bellavista
Definitely a happening young people’s night scene. Drink a cheap cold beer on a summer’s night on the sidewalk or enjoy a great empanada! Barrio Bellavista sits at the foot of Cerro San Cristóbal and is walking distance from Metro Baquedano.
6. Villa Grimaldi
A former torture site used by the dictatorship on the outskirts of Santiago. Now Villa Grimaldi serves to educate the public and remember those who were tortured and/or murdered. Our EAP tour group heard about the torture first hand through a man who was tortured himself. It was very moving.
7. La Chascona
I actually never went inside but tours are available. This is the only one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses that is located in Santiago in Barrio Bellavista.
8. Barrio Bellas Artes/Lastarria
My old barrio—very bohemian and artsy. Walk down Calle Lastarria. It is a beautiful street.
9. Parque Forestral
I used to ride my bike through here as well as walk Laiza (dog) when I lived in Bellas Artes.
10. Museo de Bellas Artes
11. Drink a terremoto at La Piojera
One of Chile’s famous drinks, the terremoto definitely lives up to its name. Cuidado— it is quite strong.
12. Lunch at Mercado Central
13. La Vega (Santiago’s best and cheapest market!)
14. Cementerio General
Santiago’s cemetery mirrors the extreme socio-economic stratification within Chilean society. Definitely worth the visit.
Above: Stratification even in death.
15. El Perseguidor Jazz Club! (see previous posts… great spot!)
16. See los Chinchorros at Museo Arte Precolombino
This was always on my Santiago bucket list and I never got to do it! A reason to return…
17. Eat the best hamburger EVER at Guidos! (Merced con Mosqueto)
18. Calle Bandera
Cheap used clothing!
19. Barrio Patronato
Also a big shopping area. Close to La Vega. Cheap clothing but you have to search for the really cute stuff!
20. Parque Esculturas
A sculpture park in Providencia!
21. Emporio La Rosa (ice cream)
22. Concha y Toro wine tour
Great wine. Fun tour. Do it!
23. Patio Bellavista
A cute outside area filled with overpriced shops and restaurants as well as a few nightclubs in Barrio Bellavista. Very touristy but fun to quickly walk through.
24. Bar Constitución
A very trendy bar in Bellavista. Almost always a line outside. There is a cover. The night’s musical offerings are written outside on a chalk board. A heavy metal door slides open to let people in a out. There are two main dance floors as well as some outdoor seating. Great for dancing.
25. La Casa del Aire
La Casa del Aire is a beautiful bar/restaurant famous for its communist roots and traditional folk musicians whose songs often mix love, emotions, politics and history. Located in Barrio Bellavista, open late. The food is Colombian/Chilean fusion and the small plates are quite good. They have a nice selection of beers, but I recommend trying their homemade sangria. The music can be quite loud so sitting farther away from the stage and/or on the second level is a good idea.
fotos de Francie
26. Plaza Nuñoa
A beautiful plaza and park.
27. Chorillana Jota Cruz
The best chorillana ever.
28. Parque Quinta Normal
29. Gigi Bonta (gelato!!)
30. Go to a Tamascal!
32. Hula-hoop in parks and streets!
33. Ride public transit! (micro y metro!)
That was a piece of advice given to me before I came to Chile. Riding public transit allows you to get a feel, a ‘day in the life’ of a santiaguino. Santiago has a highly developed public transit system which consists of the metro and the micro (buses). I highly recommend riding micros instead of the metro. Many people use micros as an area to perform, preach, sell various items, sing, etc. Ride one long enough and you may be in for a treat. Performers ask permission from the drivers to get on the bus, and of course they don’t have to pay. After the performance, they will ask for a small contribution, a chauchita, for their endeavors.
36. Go to an asado
37. Duri Sushi en el Centro. Reasonably priced, good sushi!
38. Cafe Plaza Victoria (Close to my old house right next to the Santa Isabel metro station. Nice food and good ice cream on a hot day)
39. Teatro! I saw theater pieces at Teatro Universidad Católica and Teatro El Puente. My good friend Joaquin perfromed! :) Below: Teatro El Puente
40. Use work out equipment in parks!
41. Parque Bustamante (one of my favorite parks in Santiago, great play structures)
42. Plaza Brasil/Barrio Brasil
Plaza Brasil has some fun play structures and swings. Barrio Brasil has a nice nightlife scene. The crowd is a little more laid back than Barrio Bellavista.
43. Barrio Londres/Paris
This is really two streets but they are beautiful!
44. Drink a mojito at Moloko. Yum.
The vibe at Moloko (fotos de Francie)
One of the best mojitos in Santiago.
45. Eat homemade empanadas and celebrate Chilean independence on 18 de septiembre!
Tarah and I met this couple at La Piojera and they invited us to spend 18 with them! Oh yeah- I had dyed my hair dark black after two incidents (one in which I was attacked and another close call).
fotos de Tarah
46. Play soccer! (fútbol)
from the archives
“On going abroad”
When you are in a foreign place, you become audaciously juxtaposed with your surroundings, the culture, the people, the language, the traditions, the society, the customs. Cultural things, material things, places, people, traditions that you used to identify with have disappeared. It is adolescence on a much grander scale. You are left with you. Your essence. Your raw essence. Your soul if you call it that. You learn who you are on a whole new level and because of this achieve a higher level of being, of consciousness if you will. This of course comes with much pain, depression, happiness, many stages. But it is a glorious process.
I wrote this in November of 2011. I was completely in love with my now ex pololo (“chilean” for boyfriend), living with my beloved familia chilena in the center of the city and fully immersed in Santiago living.
¿Donde he estado?
Where have I been? Good question alert reader. And valid, since it has been 2 months since my last post, which wasn’t even about present day. Apologies for the anachronistic, time-traveling entries- and for leaving you hanging regarding my roommate drama- which has since long passed. I’m still here and it is really nice to have Manuel here too. Buena onda.
So I’ve been exploring Santiago, learning new things about myself, making amazing memories, busing all over Argentina, swimming in Iguazú Falls, adventuring with the whole family on a fantastic trip to Ecuador… I’ve been living! (And trying to survive the cold Santiago winter!)
I have so much to write. For now, I am going to enjoy these last few days that I have with my best friends here before they fly away and focus on trying to get a job. Time to make some pesos! Expect more in the next week!
La Isla Grande de Chiloé: Dalcahue y Castro
I’m so annoyed. I was halfway through an amazing post about my adventures in Chiloé and Safari had a heart attack and shut down unexpectedly. No I did not want to send a report to apple. I wanted to scream and hit my computer. Tumblr told me that I had an unpublished post- which of course was sent into oblivion. So I begin again. Begrudgingly. But writing about Chiloé has been on the to-do list since I went there… which was in February- so I suppose its time to close the book on this one. To refresh my memory, I have copied from my journal. I apologize for the repetition (see: Rolling With It) but it is a good introduction. Feel free to skip ahead.
After we finished the ILP on Friday, the 18th of February, a problem occurred. We had bought tickets to Punta Arenas or so we thought. The plan was to go to Patagonia, to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine- backpack it, explore, trek. But not everything in life always goes according to plan and that Friday we discovered that our trip to Patagonia was not going to happen. At least, not now. Basically, my credit card (I had paid for myself and Tarah) and Courtney’s, had both been rejected and therefore our purchases were not processed and the tickets were gone. My old monitor/friend Joaquin tried to buy tickets to go to Punta Arenas the next day, Saturday, as planned. We bought tickets online through LAN. They were extremely cheap ($150 USD). But it sounded too good to be true- and it was. We tried to check-in online for our flight but we were denied. Confused, Joaquin called LAN and that’s when we found out that the tickets were for MARCH! The days and days of the week (Saturday-Sunday, 19-27) corresponded perfectly. So there was the inital sadness, which quickly lifted and I felt free and relieved. We were not prepared whatsoever. I felt bad because our friend Francie, who we were planning on going with, had successfully purchased tickets. Joaquin felt very bad but I was really calm. I went home to Marta and ate palta and tomatoe and my favorite soup in her bed and watched television. I went to bed kind of late after writing a lengthy blog entry describing what was mentioned earlier, about rolling with it.
The next day, February 19th, 2011, was spent buying gear and tickets. We bought tickets close to Los Leones metro station to Castro, the capital of Chiloé, the second largest island in Chile, according to Courtney’s lonely planet guide, which became a sort of sacred, almost biblical text, which we referred to multiple times a day. Anyway, trust me, Chiloé is large! We left from Santiago on Saturday night. Also on Saturday, we had the best gelato ever at Gigi Bontá in Providencia. It tasted like nutella, but better. It was fantastic.
Saturday night we almost missed the bus (cough, Courtney, cough), but we made it. It was 15 hours to Castro. So the night turned to day and the day turned into Sunday, the 20th of February, a long long long long day! The bus driver dropped us off in Mocopulli- closer to Dalcahue, which according to the guidebook, has a large street fair every Sunday. Perfect. ¡Vamos! So off the bus we went. We spent 10 minutes getting ourselves together and ready for the road. I brushed my teeth and used the uh facilities. After about 100ft and seeing two backpackers ahead of us doing it, we decided it was a good idea to hitchhike. It became a way of life. After letting down our hair, we almost immediately got a ride. We hopped in the back of a red pick up truck with a family in the front cabin area. There was a small baby girl smiling playfully at us in the truck bed through the window. Life is awesome.
Riding in the back of the truck
¡Súper rico empanada con mariscos!
¡La ciudad de Dalcahue es hermosa!
We left Dalcahue and marched towards Castro.
Paula and Cristian- the lovely couple who picked us up. They live in Castro and asked us if we would like to sleep on their patio. Our plan was to find nice people and camp in their backyards (or patios) so when they asked we were delighted. We also discovered that they were on their way to a festival, Festival Costumbrista Chilote, Festival of Customs of Chiloé, in Castro, and would we like to come? Of course! We left our backpacks in their car and entered the festival.
On the stage, the people dance the traditional cueca, but in a Chilotan style. The music, song and dance were all native to Chiloé and demonstrated the pride that these people have for their beautiful island.
Some quick notes on Chiloé
- It rains a lot- but we experienced almost all sunshine and beautiful cloudy skies during our time in Chiloé. I think the most it rained was just light sprinkles. :) Nevertheless, we came prepared in matching black parka/raincoats.
- It is safe- a lot safer than Santiago. The people are also extremely kind and hospitable and want you to have a good time.
- It is magical and mythological. There are many legends and myths in Chiloé and according to our friend Pato, a native, in rural areas there are still witches. There is a list of mythological creatures, each with his/her own tale and modern applications.
- The seafood is fantastic. Chiloé is famous for a dish called curanto. More on that later, and my personal experience with curanto…
- The pace of life is much slower than metropolitan Santiago. People are generally more laid back and peaceful.
- Churches- Chiloé is famous for its many wooden churches, an example of the mixture of native and Catholic traditions. 16 are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Anything can happen in Chiloé! If you ever have the opportunity to go to Chiloé, I recommend the cities of Castro and Ancud.
A couple dancing at the festival.
Tarah y yo
Courtney’s guidebook told us about the liquor of Chiloé. It is famous for its Licor de Oro- Liquor of Gold. It is spicy and very sweet. The red one had a fruity flavor. Licor de Oro is made of aguardiente (alcohol), whey, saffron and lemon peel. They were giving out samples- so of course we had to try for ourselves. Personally, it is too sweet, but that’s just me.
We bought some chocolates for our sweet hosts, Paula and Cristian.
A HUGE PIG!
We tried on some of the handmade clothing that people were selling at the festival…
Perfect clouds for cloud watching
We left with Paula and Cristian to go to their home and set-up camp! On our way, we got our first glimpse of the famous palafitos- houses on the water that are literally held up by pieces of wood!
Sunset and view of the bay from Paula and Cristian’s house. After we set up our tent, they allowed us to shower in their home and invited us in for tea and bread. I can only hope that I would be that loving to a complete stranger. They said that they would have let us sleep inside, but that Paula’s sister, child, husband and mother were staying over. Yes, we met the whole clan. Such nice people.
Courtney’s sleeping bag/body suit. Too good.
Our tent! We slept in and cooked breakfast inside the house. :)
Timón, the dog
Courtney and the tent
Tarah, rocking the Rotary Club hat, and the tent
We decided that today, Monday the 21st of February, would be spent exploring Castro. Tuesday we would leave and try to get to Chonchi, to the state park of Chiloé and camp there.
Okay sorry, I just think these houses are so cool…
Stopping to smell the roses
Shopping around. In Castro we stocked up on supplies for the next few days. Pasta, prunes and oatmeal. Yum!
We took a quick look through a museum. I liked the model ships.
(foto: Courtney) Lots of churches!!
The church in Castro, one of the 16 UNESCO sites
We sat in the park across from the church and played cards. There was a pack of wild dogs.. always so many dogs in Chile.
Here come the women in black… dun dun dun dun dunn dun. Matching in our black coats.
We played cards, went to dinner and ate a really good burger and went back to our tent in Paula and Cristian’s patio. The next day we left Castro.
More to come!