Published: May 20th 2012March 23rd 2012
Santiago de Chile has a big bus terminal. Actually, they have two. One long distance and one short distance. We awoke early in the morning to a giant complex that the bus began circling upwards to its designated parking spot. After getting off and collecting our backpacks, we walked down a few flights of stairs and through a mall, eventually reaching the metro station. 12 stops later, we got off and walked a few blocks to our hostel. The receptionist was nice enough to let us have the breakfast of bread, jam and Nescafe once we put our bags in storage. We knew we had to wait a few hours for the room to be ready but we thought maybe we could take a shower and change. Unfortunately, somehow the lock to the storage was broken, or they couldn´t find the key, and they were waiting for a locksmith to come open it. Good thing we weren´t rushing to catch a flight or something; we would have had to kick the door in! So, as tired as we both were after the long bus and early morning arrival, we crashed on their couches and watched some BBC news. Since our room
wasn´t going to be ready until 1 in the afternoon, after I woke Chloe up we decided to take a walk around the city, eventually to pick up our Lollapalooza tickets at will call. It took us close to an hour to get to Parque O´Higgins where the festival would take place, and the sun was beginning to get intense. After getting our 2 day passes we headed back to the hostel, showered up and changed out of our smelly travel clothes. The supermarket was suprisingly far away, a good 8 blocks, but we headed that direction anyway. As we had heard there was no alcohol sold at the festival, we bought a bottle of vodka and rum for good measure along with food for lunches and dinners for the upcoming days. We deposited all the goods back at the hostel and figured we still had time to fit some sightseeing in.
I was pretty interested in checking out the Museo de la Memoria, a museum dedicated to the military dictatorship of Pinochet and the travesties that ensued during his reign. We caught the metro again and got off at the indicated stop. Supposedly it was next to the
metro stop but by looking at the map, I couldn´t see where. I asked someone while still inside the metro station, and they pointed across the station to a pair of doors. I guess it was obvious if you opened your eyes, but I expected it to be outside, not connected with the metro. Anyway, we entered into a temporary exhibition, displaying the art of Fernando Botero, depicting the tortures that occured in the Iraq prisons at the hands of the American military. Disturbing paintings but they went in hand with the idea behind the museum of promoting respect and dignity of human rights. There was a short section of the museum on the main floor that showed many of the countries around the world that have experienced violation of human rights at the hands of their government. It may have been a short section, but it was a long enough list to be appalled. From here we walked upstairs to the beginning of the main museum. Through videos and radio broadcasts, documents, objects, photos and letters, we learned of the coup d´état of General Pinochet and his soldiers over Presidente Allende, and the campaign of terror and human rights
violations that incurred during his rule until 1990. Crazy, powerful stuff; over 1200 people are still unaccounted for from the dictatorship, otherwise known as los desaparecidos (the disappeared). We watched one video that was especially disturbing - during a student protest, one lone police officer shot a female student in the head at random, without instigation. Unfortunately, we weren´t able to finish the museum as it was closing, but felt as though the museum had done its job at instilling the memory of the travesties of the contemporary 18 year military dictatorship and desire to promote human rights. After the museo we rode the metro back, cooked dinner, and hung out at the hostel, as there was a party going on for the manager who was leaving. We were pretty beat after walking the city and not sleeping much on the overnight bus so we headed to bed around 1:30, even though we could hear the party rockin below.
The next 2 days were a big party. Lollapalooza, Chile 2012 was amazing!! The first day, before heading to the show, we had been talking to various people at the hostel who were there for the same reason. As we
Super soundsystem bike
were all gringos, we didn´t understand the idea of a music festival without booze. A Hawaiian chick had the idea of filling ziplock baggies with alcohol and putting them in her bra. Pretty awesome idea, so I told Chole to get up on it. I filled a half a nalgene with vodka, wrapped it in my sweatshirt and put it in my backpack, along with 2 other nalgenes filled with water. As we walked the hour to the show in the midday heat, Chloe began questioning the plastic bags sweating on her skin. Fortunately they weren´t leaking, it was just hot out. When we got to the entrance, the police had me open my backpack but saw the sweatshirt and passed me through. They didn´t even check the bottles on the side or if I had a knife below the sweatshirt. Whatevs, we were through with our booze! We made it to the food court area, drained her plastic chest into the nalgene, and poured ourselves a drink. The rest of the day and evening we walked around between the 5 stages, seeing Gogol Bodello, Thievery Corporation, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, Calvin Harris and a bit of Bjork. Neither of us
had heard of Gogol Bodello, but he was definitely one of my favorites. Like a mix between Manu Chao and Flogging Molly, it was great latin gypsy punk. Thievery put on a great show, but are definitely meant for a mellow club rather than a big outdoor festie. Pretty Lights and Bassnectar gave me more than enough of a whomp whomp fix, but Chloe seemed to really dig it. Calvin Harris did what he does best as an international DJ, and Bjork did her, a minature person with a BIG voice and production. The second day of Lolla we were more relaxed, filling 2 nalgenes with the rest of our alcohol and wrapping them in my sweatshirt again. This time though, the police checked a bit deeper, felt the hard plastic bottles and asked me what it was. I pointed to the frozen plastic bottle I had on the side of my backpack and said, ¨Solo más agua.¨ With that, he passed me through and my heart beat again. The lineup on the second day was pretty awesome. We ran around seeing Foster the People, TV on the Radio, Band of Horse, MGMT, Tiny Tempah, Peaches, and eventually Foo Fighters.
FtP sounded just like their album, TV had too much sound for the speakers to handle, Band of Horses took me back to good old American music, MGMT had their good hits, Peaces was super wierd, and Tiny Tempah was great to dance to. Again, neither of us had heard of Tiny Tempah but we had a really good time dancing to the electronic rap music. Chloe got her hip thrust going pretty well! Foo Fighters were an amazing headliner. The lived up to their name and more. Chloe had said she didn´t really like FF but after the 3+ hour show, she was impressed. Dave Grohl said in the beginning, ¨We have a lot of f**king songs so we´re going to play a lot of f**king songs, is that alright with you?!¨ They put on a perfect show, leaving Chile wanting more and waiting for their return. After each night we walked the hour back in the dark, as the metro was closed by that time and waiting for a cab could take just as long and be just as sketchy. Not to fear mothers, we made it back fine with no incidents or uneasy situations.
after the festival, we hung around the hostel, tired from all the walking and time on our feet over the previous days. Chloe still got anxious though, so we decided to hike up Cerro Cristobal to the Virgen Maria that overlooks the city. Along the way were walking through the college bar area of Bellavista and saw a girl who we´d met in Pucon who was studying in Santiago. As we were chatting it up, a short drunk man with missing teeth dressed like Flounder from Animal House came up and started smiling and kinda harrassing the girls. At first we ignored him, then I stuck my arm in his face to block the girls, and as we thought he was walking away he came back and breathed on Chloe´s neck. That completely creeped her out, but as I noticed he was a regular of the area as people around greeted him I couldn´t just knock him out as I didn´t know who´s side everyone would take. So we said goodbye to the Pucon girl and continued walking up the hill, eventually reaching a dirt path that would lead to the top. We followed it and along the way saw
a big tarantula and a whole lot of dusty path and smog. Really planning this out, we forgot to bring water with us but continued on. Chloe was slowing down but this was her idea so I pushed her on. An hour later we made it to the top, and although we did have a bird´s eye view of the city and its surroundings, it wasn´t very impressive, save the thick layer of smog. We decided to skip the walk down and took the ascensor, a cable car on a track. We made it down and layed low at the hostel for the rest of the evening.
Through our short travel in Chile, we had noticed how cheap and quality the wine had been. As the oldest wine region in Chile is only an hour outside of Santiago in the Maipo Valley, we had researched touring a winery in the area. Concha y Toro was too commercial for us so we booked a tour at the second largest distributer in Chile, Undurraga. Back at the giant bus station, we took a local van bus for $2 out to a stop near the winery. Along the way, I noticed all
sorts of farms growing various crops, natuarally where Santiago and Chile get the majority of their produce. It appeared as though produce isn't very affected by mass smog...high quality grapes included. Undurraga winery had a great presentation up front, a fact that continued during the whole tour. Our guide wasn't just someone hired for the job. He had come from a family rich in history and knowledge of vineyards. He admitted that in Chile and especially in the Maipo, a family name made a big difference in getting a job in the wine business. On the English tour, there was only 1 other person with us, a snakeskin boot Texan. He was pleasant though. As we toured about the vineyard, we learned about the science of agriculture and how it pertained to different varietals of wine. It was much more in depth than either of us expected. Chloe was fascinated and decided during the tour that she wanted to pursue the subject further in a college setting when we get back! I was just along for the ride, enjoying learning what we were told about differences in varietals and the science behind it. I admitted to our guide that although
I love wine and appreciate the elegance of the process, I'm a beer enthusiast through and through. After watching and walking through the grape selection and fermentation area, we got to what we had all been waiting for, the tasting. With some surprisingly large pours, we tasted their T.H. Savignon Blanc, Aliwen Cab/Syrah, Founder's Collection Cabernet, and Late Harvest dessert wine. None of these were from their low line of production; the Founder's Collection cab was awesome (and expensive)! After the tastings, we were allowed to keep the nice full bodied wine glass. With our new wine glasses and knowledge, we felt empowered so we bought a bottle of their Siberis Petite Syrah. Fully satisfied with the tour, we crossed the highway and caught the next bus back to Santiago.
The following day was the date of the return leg of the UEFA 1/4 finals, Barca vs Milan. Thinking that we could save some cash we posted up at the hostel to watch the game. For some reason, the 1 channel the hostel didn't have was the obscure Fox Sports Plus Extra Fancy channel so the game never appeared. We got lucky enough though, as one of the hostel
workers was heading out and lead us to a restuarant/bar that had the channel. When we arrived, Barca had already scored, 1-0. Following the rest of the game both Messi and Iniesta scored but Milan struck the back of the net once, ending the game at 3-1 and putting us on to the semi finals against Chelsea. After the game we were in good spirits and headed to Bellavista for a happy hour drink. We decided on a Mexican spot as we craved some margaritas. They turned out to be pretty good, especially at 2x1. 3x1 for me, as Chloe only had wanted one! We had dinner again at the hostel and packed up our stuff to leave later the next day.
We arrived to Plaza de Armas early the next morning to meet the daily free walking tour of the city. Our guide was super animated, making an interesting tour extra entertaining. Most interesting to me was the origins of Santiago where Pedro de Valdivia crossed the unforgiving and deadly Atacama Desert and settled in the fertile lands where Santiago now lies. More contemporarily, we learned of the devisive subject of Presidente Allende and General Pinochet as we
passed the Presidential Palace, which was bombed by Pinochet during the coup. You can still find older generations at odds over both parties, regardless of the history and time that has passed, as each party represented opposite ends of political and economic lines. After ending the tour, we tipped our enthusiastic guide and headed to the hostel to gather our stuff and head to the bus station. Cramming into the metro with all our stuff, we rode the 14 stops to the other bus station and were greeeted by a madhouse of people. As unreligious travellers, it had completely skipped our minds that it was Good Friday, so everyone in Santiago was escaping the city for the long weekend. At 1:30pm, all the buses leaving every 20 minutes to Valparaíso were booked, and the earliest bus we could get on was at noon the following day. We bought the tickets and returned to the hostel on the metro, fortunately able to book a room for the night. Frustrated, we put our stuff down and headed to Bellavista for a drink. We chose a corner bar with tables outside overlooking the street scene. I tried a few various local brews, Chloe
had a couple caipiroskas, and we shared some papas bravas with some homemade sauces. Liqoured up, we mellowed out a bit and headed back to the hostel later that evening.
Our sleep was rudely interrumpted by some jackass in the dorm who went out drinking too late and slept through his LOUD alarm, then was roused by the receptionist who had a cab waiting for him to the airport. Without any rush, he unzipped and zipped up his bag a dozen times, thrashing stuff about, disregarding everyone else in the dorm. The unspoken edicate of dorm travelling obviously had no meaning to this guy. He finally got his rude ass out 20 annoying minutes later and we rested for another hour before having to check out. We got to the bus station early with our tickets, ready to leave smoggy Santiago and get to the coast. Next stop, Valparaíso!
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