Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sleepy Santiago

Well hey there!

   It´s been awhile hasn´t it? With a combination of fighting tooth and nail for the internet along with having too much fun on the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso, I have finally made it back to calmer days in northern Chile... at the moment I´m relaxing at the desert oasis that goes by the name San Pedro de Atacama... but more about that when I get caught up with this blog here. Now, a little about Santiago.

   I spent quite a bit of the time in this South America metropolis, and while I always wanted to leave I found myself returning to it again and again. This city was a grand mix of beautiful and unpleasant. While the streets were clean and the traffic as friendly as you could hope for in South America, the air was filled with smog being captured by the Andes. Also, while many of the streets were lined with stately colonial buildings, these were fast being replaced with modern architecture that would be better if left on the drawing board. While the city was pleasant and enticingly relaxed, it was easy to become bored and turn your back to what the city had to offer, often since the Santiagans themselves being disinterested and disullisioned with the place. However, this international metropolis was a treat if you knew what you were looking for and you got to know some of the locals. By the time I left, most people from the huge hostel I was staying at knew my name, and we would waste nights away chatting in the bar.

   Speaking of our hostel, the place was interesting enough to tell you about. It used to be an old mansion when the district we were staying in (Barrio Brasil) was one of the most expensive places to live. After being handed over to a private school, and then getting turned into a nunnery, it fell into disrepair until someone decided it would work well as a hostel. I have to agree with them for the most part, it had a very nice feel. The place was huge, and each dorm room, even though it had 8 beds, had plenty of space to spare. The kitchen was also the biggest I´ve seen so far and the backyard was complete with outdoor bar, pool, and ping-pong table, which we definitely used. While this place used to be a party house, recent complaints from the neighbors and low season crowds made the place a little calmer, which I actually enjoyed. The rooms were also extremely cheap, which I did not have a problem with, and the hostel always knew where to go out for nightlife each night.

  While the museums here were quite nice, there is nothing too particularly exciting to say about them: they were big, they had many interesting exhibits, and they reminded me a lot of Europe. I spent a good day or two enjoying them, but found  the actual streets of Santiago and its surrounding parks much more interesting. I would spend whole days wandering around with no particular destination in mind. Among some interesting things I found were: an Ampitheatre on top of hill with a view of most of Santiago, numerous mind-altering murals around the city, a huge local market filled with amazing fresh fruit and horrible clothes, a building that looked like a palace from another world, and a restaurant that served 30 different types of empanadas (unfortunately not all of them were good).

   When we thought we had enough of the Capital for a little while, Carl and I decided to book it to Valparaiso, the self-proclaimed cultural center of Santiago... but more on that next time!

P.S. Here´s what Santiago looks like... IF there´s no smog (which there almost always is)

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