All posts by jennaczeck

Museums and a Hill: Santiago Day 2

Thursday was my only full day in Santiago and my last day of the trip. I started off with a pretty good hostel breakfast with eggs and fruit. I then headed off to explore the city with the Australian girl I had been hanging with for the last few days.

We stopped by Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral off of Plaza de Armas which was very pretty.

We then went to Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino or the Precolombian Art Museum. It was very well done. There was one section about all of Latin America and one on Chilean Precolombian history. I really enjoyed the museum.

We headed to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights which commemorates the victims of the dictatorship’s violence and educates about the period. All of the signs were only in Spanish, but the videos were subtitled and even without understanding everything the subject was very upsetting. The museum was well done, starting with showing other human rights crises and then following through the period of the dictatorship.

We stopped for lunch at a Chilean restaurant where I got Pastel de Choclo. It was cornbread over a meat mixture and was very good.

We then rode a funicular up San Cristobal Hill. The hill is part of the biggest urban park in Latin America and gives an amazing view of the city.  There is a statue of Virgin Mary on the top. We took a cable car around the rest of the park, enjoying the view. Before we left, the sky finally turned blue which we had been hoping for all day. There is a lot of air pollution in Santiago but it had rained the day before so we were hoping that it would have cleared the air.

We went back to the hostel for a while and at 7 (really 7:40) they had free pisco sours of all sorts of flavors.

For my last dinner, we went to a nice restaurant. We had a good bottle of carmenere, the most famous type of Chilean wine. I had a lamb shank and risotto which was amazing. For dessert, I had cuchuflis, straw like sweets filled with chocolate, dulce de leche, and custard. They were very good. The dinner was a great way to cap off my trip.

I then headed back to the hostel and to pack because I had to wake up early for my flight home.

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One Last City: Santiago Day 1

Wednesday morning was a slower one. After breakfast, I finally headed up to the rooftop of my hostel to see the view before I left. I then had to pack up and head to Santiago.

I arrived in Santiago and headed to my hostel. My room wasn’t ready yet, so I grabbed a quick empanada while I waited. I checked into my room and then headed out for a walking tour.

The walking tour gave a great overview of the city. As with all the walking tours I’ve done in Chile (they have all been by the same company), we took public transit at one point so you could see how it worked. We learned about the history of coffee in Chile. Since the British were most of the immigrants to Chile during the California Gold Rush, for a long time people drank tea. To try and convince people to drink coffee, it was served by beautiful women in skimpy outfits, which is known as coffee with legs. There is also the more extreme version of this today, which is basically a strip club but with coffee instead of alcohol.

We stopped at the Presidential Palace where we learned about the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat. Salvador Allende was a socialist president of Chile, who was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet. They bombed the Presidential Palace and killed Allende who before gave a speech thanking the people for their support and saying he would not surrender. After the coup, Chile was under a dictatorship by Pinochet until 1989. It is a very contentious period of Chile’s history.

Our last stop was a cultural center that was built in part by volunteer workers to impress the UN during Allende’s administration to show that socialism wasn’t bad. After the coup, it was used as presidential offices. Much of the artwork from before the coup was lost but our guide showed us some of the pieces that remained.

The tour ended by an ice cream place that the guide had recommended so I had to try it, despite being cold. I then headed back to the hostel where the WiFi was not working. I got enough that I was able to find my friend from Valparaíso, who was also at the hostel in Santiago.

We headed out to the best wine bar in Chile, where we had a few flights of different wines. I had the undiscover vines and the altitude wine flights. It was a lot of fun and very good.

We then headed to a pisco bar, where I had a delightful pisco cocktail. We also had dinner and I had braised beef which was amazing. We finished our night at the craft beer bar nearby which was very nice.

A Day by the Ocean: Valparaíso Day 3

Tuesday, we headed to Viña del Mar, a city that is 15 minutes away from Valparaíso, also on the coast. We took a bus to the city and wandered around for a while. We saw a fun castle that had some okay artwork inside. It was a gorgeous day and so nice to walk by the water.

We then grabbed some coffee and tea, before wandering around the city some more. For lunch we stopped at a Peruvian Asian fusion restaurant. They had the three course lunch special, so we of course took advantage of the deal. It was amazing. We both had a risotto, mine with seafood, for the main course that was so flavorful. After lunch, we were stuffed and it hurt to walk around.

We then went on a walking tour of Viña del Mar. It was the same guide as our afternoon guide from the day before. As Viña del Mar is more of a resort town, it was not nearly as interesting as Valparaíso. It was still interesting and allowed me to see a part of the city I would not have otherwise. We ended our tour at an amphitheater that holds a music festival every February.

We went back to the hostel to relax for a while. While there, we overheard two drunk girls, who were extremely amusing. They first questioned whether they were in the right hostel. One was considering meeting an ex while travelling. They also were reaffirming each other in a way only drunk people can.

We headed out for a night of bar hopping. We started back at the same brewery as the day before. I got a Belgian strong ale which was very good. I had a quesadilla to eat, but it was huge so I couldn’t finish it. We also saw two Australians that had been on our tour yesterday, who were nice to talk to.

We then headed to a bar that was call Gato en la Ventana (Cat in the Window) which also had cats in the bar. We stopped in a travel themed bar and sat in a fake trolley bus which was very fun. Our last stop was a diner type bar. We decide to try a terremote, a Chilean drink made with a sweet white wine, grenadine, and pineapple ice cream. It was disgustingly sweet but I am glad I was able to try it.

We then went to grab some empenadas on our way back to the hostel. When we arrived to the hostel, I realized it was after 1 am and went promptly to sleep.

A Crazy City by the Sea: Valparaíso Day 2

I was ready to explore Valparaíso on Monday. I grabbed breakfast at the hostel, which only has eggs for the first hour.

The Australian girl and I then went to take a walking tour of off beat Valparaíso. We walked around the oldest part of the city and learned about the history of Valparaíso. Valparaíso has always been a port city. Its golden age was during the California gold rush when people would sail around Cape Horn and stop at Valparaíso on their way. After the Panama Canal opened, a lot less people came and the city never fully recovered.

The tour then took a bus known as the rollercoaster bus, which winded through the hills very fast. We got off at the top of a hill and wandered down. We stopped at the old prison, which is now a cultural center. The prison was used for political prisoners during the dictatorship, so it has a painful history.

We then learned about the street art in Valparaíso which is everywhere. People are paid to paint murals, especially as having a mural on your wall prevents someone from tagging it.

Our tour finished with trying a drink called hote, which also means flirt. The drink is coke mixed with wine. I found it sweet and gross.

We then headed to get lunch at a place suggested by the tour guide. We had to wait 10 minutes for them to open at 1. We had three courses, a drink, and a coffee for around 8 USD. It was very good.

We stopped back at the hostel to relax and check the WiFi for a bit and then went on another walking tour, this one on the more touristy part of Valparaíso. We walked first to the port and then took an elevator up the hill. We walked around the hills, looking at street art. We saw the first Protestant church in Chile and then the first Protestant church with a cross on top. They built a Catholic church with two crosses on it, to try and be bigger than the Protestant church but people believed if you built your house near a church it was good luck, so that church is obscured.

We then stopped to meet a local who gave us homemade Alfajores, which were great.

Valparaíso is an UNESCO protected place, or at least parts of it are. This prevents new development from changing the character of the city. However, this means some buildings are left abandoned, because it is too expensive to repair our rebuild under the guidelines.

This tour ended with us trying chicha, which is fermented grapes, mixed with a cheap white wine. It was much better than the other drink.

We then stopped at a bar that is known for it’s pisco sours and had some. We stopped quickly at the hostel so I could drop my stuff off.

We then went to Casa Cerzeva Altamira, a small brewery, where we each got a flight. It was very good. We headed up the elevator again and got dinner overlooking the city. We split a bottle of Chilean wine. I had an excellent cut of swordfish, which that waitress mimed so I could understand, and risotto. We finished with lava cake which was fantastic.

We then went back to the hostel and to bed.

Crossing the Andes: Valparaíso Day 1

On Sunday, I headed over the Andes to Chile. I took an early bus and I thought I had reserved one of the seats on the top in the front but instead I was downstairs. I still had a great view of the mountains as we drove through them.

Crossing the border, we had to get off the bus, wait in line to get our passports stamped then wait again to have our bags checked and dogs check the bus. It took less than a hour, which is why I took an early bus. Later in the day, people can wait over 2 hours to cross.

I arrived in Santiago and promptly bought a ticket to Valparaíso. I grabbed a quick empanada before heading to the gate. After waiting for a bit I found out that my bus left from a different bus station across the street. I was able to just catch my bus. The bus ride to Valparaíso took around an hour and a half.

In Valparaíso, I headed to my hostel. My first impression of Valparaíso was it had the hills of San Francisco, without having been built on a grid at all and everything is on top of each other. When I tried to charge my phone realized I needed a different type of adapter. There was an Australian girl in my room who had also just arrived, so we decided to walk around Valparaíso.

I was able to find the adapter much quicker than I expected. We then took a funicular up a hill where we had a great view of the city. We were stopped by some girls who I think were asking us questions for their school work but they did not know how to ask them in English so it was a little awkward. We then grabbed some pizza and beer in an adorable little restaurant.

We walked down the hill and stopped at the hostel for a bit to get some WiFi and drop off my bag.

We walked around, trying to find somewhere to have a drink. However since it was Sunday, nothing was open. We finally found a little sandwich shop and ended up eating dinner there. I had a sandwich based on a traditional Valparaíso food called Chorrillana. It was meat, onions, french fries, and an egg. It was very good. We then went back to the hostel to relax and go to bed.

Exploring Mendoza: Mendoza Day 4

I had no real plans Saturday morning, so I was able to sleep in a little and not rush. I then walked around Mendoza to explore the actual city. I visited the many parks of the city and enjoyed the beautiful day. I then walked on a pedestrian road and found lunch. I had an excellent pasta filled with cheese.

After lunch, I headed back to the hostel and had a quiet afternoon. I was supposed to go on a sunset horseback riding tour but I was the only person on the tour so it was cancelled.

I headed back out and wandered around a different part of the city, before treating myself to a fancy steak dinner. It was excellent I will miss the high quality steaks of Argentina.

After dinner, I headed back to pack for the next morning. It was my last full day in Argentina. I loved exploring the country and will definitely come back to see Patagonia as I missed it this trip due to the season and time.

Relaxing in Thermal Springs: Mendoza Day 3

On Friday, I treated myself to a spa day. I left on a shuttle from the hostel that went to many hostels and hotels to pick up other guests. After we had picked everyone up, we stopped at what seemed like a car repair shop, where I think they worked on the van while we were still in it. Eventually, we headed on our way to the spa.

I went to Termas Cacheuta, hot springs near the base of the Andes. I spent the day soaking in hot springs of various temperatures, depending on my mood. The air was chilly and the springs were outside so I had to rush between springs.

For lunch, there was a huge buffet with many types of meats and sides and even steamed vegetables, a rarity in Argentina. I ate way too much, even trying all of the desserts but it was very enjoyable.

One of the other treatments I enjoyed was covering yourself with a mud that is good for your skin. My skin felt so soft after taking it off.

It was so relaxing to spend a day soaking and reading, especially after travelling for almost 3 weeks.

After I got back from the spa, I hung out at the hostel for a bit and then had to head out for dinner and to find an ATM as I was out of cash. It was a great day to recharge and prepare myself for my last week.