This may be lackluster, I dunno. We flew into Santiago and had already booked 2 nights at a hostel that a friend had recommended. We easily found our way to town thanks to the internet navigating skills of my dad (yes, he can apparently use google!). The hostel was great, it totally reminded me of the chateau that we stayed at, same hallways, windows and most importantly, smells. It had a nice pool and we easily spent the first two days walking around the city and getting some color by the pool. The city was nice and easy. we walked about 5 miles a day, which is something we don´t really do at home due to el car-o. We found the ¨Greenlake¨ and ¨Capitol Hill¨ of Santiago and ate dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Can you tell I am a sucker for outdoor dining? I am from Seattle, we don´t get a lot of it!
What else can I say, we found the city to be a little plain, though aesthetically appealing. We ate tons of Empanadas, walked some more, rode the metro, ate at the overpriced fish market that the girls at the hostel recommended. In all things were expensive by SA standards and very very mediocre. Santiago is where we discovered that we would much rather eat at a really average, but cheap and authentic place than eat at an expensive restaurant that is marginally better with white plates and small portions. We tried a sushi place next to our hostel and the waiter was so snotty to us. I wanted to say ¨Are you kidding me? You are going to turn your nose up at me when there is better sushi than this on every corner in Seattle?¨ Most times that we do fancy things, like spending New Years in Monaco, we find the experience to be stuffy and lackluster. I would honestly take nice waiters, real people and food poisoning over some of the upscale places that have snotty service and no vibe. I realize that I like people who don´t care if we want to play cards before dinner and don´t have appearances to keep up, because honestly, nothing in Santiago was that amazing. Sorry.
We thought we would have more luck in Valparaiso, a smaller coastal town in Chile that everyone raved about. We took a room from a lady at the bus station (this always works out well for us) and ended up staying in the center of the real Valparaiso. We walked to the touristy parts and they were nice, but our part was nicer. People sold things on the street and there was a funny version of a Christmas market, but…everything was mass-produced, lots of children´s clothes and cheap garlands.
The really awesome part about the city was that it was so colorful and beautiful. There is always something to be said for cities built on and around hills. It takes so much extra effort to first build a 100ft high wall before building your house on it and then build your neighbor´s house on top of your’s that you have to do it right. There were no gray houses and the colors taupe, muddy river, and rust were apparently not for sale in this town. You want pink, turquoise or yellow? No problem. I liked that there were paint drops on the sidewalks. People didn´t seem to use drop clothes and didn´t really care that their house was glowing. I suppose you could just paint it another color the next year. The attitude towards their surroundings was inspired and fun. I can see why so many artists get wrapped up in its charm. When we were walking one day we saw a guy painting on a gray wall. Again, no gray allowed. It was so beautiful, I would say it was a mural, but it was just pure blotches of color in a shaded rainbow. I loved that there could be no plain walls in the entire city. None. That is what I liked about the city, but…
The next day we decided to go to Argentina. For some reason, we couldn´t get into Chile. We took a 7 hour Bus to Mendoza over the Andes on a road that is only open in the summer, rightfully so and it was awesome and captivating. I kept thinking about my old favorite book ¨Alive¨ where the team gets stuck in the Andes after their plane crashed and ended up eating the dead passengers. I can totally see why. You get caught in the Andes in the dead of winter and you are so screwed. Every hill ends in a cliff and every cliff gives way to an equally steep cliff usually with some loose of falling rocks.