In the last two months, I’ve been on a little bit of a whirlwind tour of the world. And when I say the world, I mean that I’ve done two international trips back to back. I would not necessarily advise doing it this way. The more time you’ve had in between travel the more you appreciate it. And I only had three full days in between during which I had some minor food poisoning courtesy of the Fort Lauderdale airport.
But that comes later.
This is only part one of what I think will be 9 posts about my travels throughout May and June.
Santiago, Chile was our first destination. Let me back up and say that our refers to mine and Ally’s, my friend (and housemate) from school. Let me back up further to say that this whole trip was conceived over a glass (bottle) of wine one Monday night. That is the energy we took into South America.
Santiago, The City
After we arrived at Hostel Forestal and dropped our bags in our 8 person dorm room, we went off in desperate search of food. The restaurant that google had recommend was closed because it was 3 pm, a time when all other countries close. We did manage to find and (unbeknownst to us) expensive little Italian place. We arrived in the middle of a soccer game so the waiter was a little preoccupied.
Then we decided that about the only we had the mental capacity to do on our current level of sleep was to go to a hill and look at the city. This was also the closest option to where we were.
We found the funicular to Cerro San Cristobal right by the zoo. The man selling tickets told us it would be 10,000 pesos, so I pulled out a 1,000 note thinking that would be sufficient. This is a mistake that will be made many times.
The view of the city from the top of the funicular was a little smoggy, but we also got to see the sunset which made it worth it.
After taking one of the last funiculars down, we headed back to the hostel to try to make some friends. I thought this would be a much more awkward experience but we already had something in common with everyone else in the hostel: traveling in Chile.
We joined a card game in the lobby with a couple of people as the hostel worker started to make the free terremotos. Hostels take note: If you want people to make friends, make sure the wifi is only in common areas and that those common areas have free drinks on a Tuesday night.
Other Things We Did In Santiago
The next few days in Santiago we hit up some of the main attractions.
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights : This museum was a bit of a hike (and by that I mean a subway ride) to get to but it was well worth it. It was really eye-opening to see just how little I had learned about the recent history in Chile. (You would think that over the last 15 years of my formal education that it would have come up for more than a day in a Spanish class). The museum is all in Spanish so I would definitely recommend getting the audioguide.
Free Walking Tour: 100% worth it. This was a great and long (4 hours) walking tour that was really informative with all the stuff you wouldn’t and couldn’t notice on your own. No one will ever beat Franco. Franco is peak tour guide. Favorite Franco Fact: The firefighters are completely volunteer and they are NOT funded by the government. They just go out on the street asking for donations. Chile is not a wet country either-it’s mostly desert. Wild.
La Chascona: Pablo Neruda was an eccentric dude and he had an eccentric wild-haired (important detail) mistress. Second-favorite Franco fact: La Chascona means something along the lines of woman-with-crazy-messy-hair-but-in-a-good-way and that’s what Neruda called her. The house has a pretty good audio guide (if memory serves (but my memory is a little blurry since I have encountered a lot of audioguides in the last two months). The house had some eclectic yet nautical vibes and a really cute outdoor courtyard.
Mercado Central: If you like dead (or just mostly dead but alive enough to still wiggle) fish and aggressive (or just mostly aggressive and a little desperate) waiters, this is the place for you. I do not like those things.
The Precolombian Art Museum: I wish we had done this museum earlier in the day so we had a little looking-at-old-stuff-energy-while-standing energy in us, but alas we were running a little low. It was a really cool museum with quality (English) descriptions about the important details. I hate when art museums just have descriptions like Artist, Location, Year, Oil on Canvas. This was not that. They had the cultural details: who are they depicting, why did they worship that god, what was this thing that’s not art-for-art’s-sake used for? Each description was a little story which is how it should be.
Where/What to Eat and Drink in Santiago
Terremotos: This drink translates to “earthquake” in English. We were told two stories as to why this drink is called an earthquake:
1) A German (I don’t remember why he was German) man was at a bar and while the bartender was making his drink an earthquake hit and he spilled and made a new drink–the terremoto.
2) Terremotos go down easy. Then when you stand up, you stumble as if an earthquake is happening.
The drink itself is a super sweet extra fermented wine and mostly melted pineapple ice cream which isn’t a great combo in my opinion. Not a drink I am interested in trying again.
Pisco Sour: Now this one is good. It’s Pisco which is the alcohol and sour which is lemon juice, syrup and egg whites.
Sandwiches: They are super super into sandwiches. Anything not a sandwich is made a sandwich by simply adding bread on each side. Sandwiches from the little fast food shops are also really cheap and make for a great lunch. My favorite was the Italian which in no way stems from Italy. Third-favorite Franco Fact: It’s called the Italian because the toppings are tomato, mayo and, avocado–which make up the colors of the Italian flag.
The Place that Franco Recommended: Galindo was one of our last stops on Franco’s tour when it was just long enough past lunch time that we were willing to eat anywhere. We had meat (of some sort) with fries (they are as into fries as they are into sandwiches).
Omerta: If you’re already missing quality cheese this is the place for you. We had pizza with real mozzarella and Sangria that might have been entirely juice which made it so good. At first we were hesitant of this place because no one was there. We walked by a couple of times before finally committing when we realized that we were just two hours early for a typical dinner time.
Concha y Toro Vineyard: We took the metro all the way out to the end to get as close as we could to the vineyard for cheap and then took an uber the rest of the way there. We had a fun tour of the vineyard and got to try three wines. The Savingon Blanc that we drank outside was delicious. After doing the tour, we wanted to try another vineyard. Problem was that most of them were closed. Our guide promised that the other one he worked at was open on Monday. Google disagreed. We double checked with him and he maintained that it was open. We called an uber and drove 20 minutes to the other vineyard. Google was right. Back at Concha y Toro, we ordered a bottle and a round of empanadas. Fourth-favorite Franco fact: traditional empanadas have one boiled egg, one olive and one raisin along with the rest of the filling.
I think Santiago was the best place to start our trip because it felt the most European, and therefore the most familiar to me. I can 100% see myself going back in the future.