Monday, January 06, 2014

Patagonia Part 1: Santiago

Finally, I am back home and ready to begin my blog! Now don't start lecturing me, I know full well that Santiago and Pichilemu are NOT official Patagonia, but they were the start of my trip there. And I'm the boss of this blog so that's what the title will be. :)

My purpose for blogging about the vacation this time will be two-fold. One, as always, to keep family and friends up-to-date on what I've been up to. But also, I will be offering travel tips and reviews of places as well. I found that to be REALLY helpful when I was trying to get from one place to the next!

Also, I'll be changing the dates, not to when I am posting, but to roughly when I was in each area. Just to avoid confusion!

So, here we go!

Santiago, Chile
I spent three nights in Santiago, Chile. It is somewhere I've always wanted to go, even though I didn't really know why. I enjoyed the city, but by the time I left I was ready to get out of the city and start very slowly working my way south. The first day I relaxed by the pool at the hostel, which was a huge luxury coming from Colorado winter, straight into South American summer! While there I met a Dutch girl named Edith. We ended up getting dinner together at a little cafe up the street, where we waited extra to be able to sit out on the sidewalk and be able to enjoy the evening!

The next morning we went on a free city tour of Santiago and it was EXCELLENT! Our guide, Franco, was informative and entertaining. I learned a lot, from the history of Santiago, including the government overthrow and following dictatorship, to the amusing concept of "coffee with legs"-which is basically the idea of dressing up coffee waitresses as showgirls, "to distract from how bad the (instant) coffee tastes." After the tour, we got lunch at another sidewalk cafe and then took the funicular (a kind of train) up the mountain of Cerro San Cristobal, which overlooks the city. That evening, I went out with Edith's tour group to-be, as many of them were arriving at the hotel. We went to a restaurant decorated as the interior of a submarine. The room we were seated in had all these sample mermaid ladies that once were on the front of boats, and the ceviche was excellent! That night we tried the drink called terremoto (earthquake) that our guide had told us we must try. it's made with cheap white wine, a little bit of fernet, and pear-flavored ice cream. Considering that I only like one of the three ingredients, it wasn't that bad. But I only had one.

The following day I went to a museum called Museo de la Memoria, or the Museum of Memory. It is a sad and serious place, dedicated to the many people who were "disappeared" during Pinochet's rule. It was excellent. That night I met a nice group of 5 Brazilians, who couldn't have been more friendly, and who all made an effort to speak English to include me in their conversations! The next morning I regretted that I'd had *quite* so much wine with those fun, bad influences! I didn't do anything that morning but pack for my first bus ride of the trip. Onward!

Reviews and Recommendations for Santiago:

  • Free Walking Tour of Santiago. There are several, I have heard others are good too. This one meets in front of the Plaza de Armas church at 10am and 3pm, and the guide wears a red FREE TOUR shirt. Franco is great!
  • Museo de la Memoria

  • Happy House Hostel: 5 hostel stars. This is probably the nicest hostel I stayed at the whole time. Pros: nice beds, sheets and comfy pillows (2!!!). Great breakfast, and a pool. Lots of common areas, friendly, helpful staff. Adequate power outlets in rooms, big lockers. 3 wifi routers mean you can get service in most areas of the hostel. Huge kitchen. Average bathroom/shower facilities. Cons: really squeaky floors, it's hard to be quiet. Earplugs solve this problem.
  • HI Santiago: 2 hostel stars. I had to move here when Happy House didn't have space. It was okay but just the bare minimum in many ways. Pros: nice yard, bar serving drinks, decent common area. Cons: NO outlets in rooms, tiny shower where the curtain sticks to your legs, breakfast is only bread and instant coffee.

No comments: