Category Archives: museums

About 24 Hours in Santiago!

After the fairly quick (under 2 hours) bus ride from Vina del Mar to Santiago, I arrived (again) at one of the several Santiago bus terminals in the city. I had already made a reservation at a hostel so, this time, I knew exactly where I was going (the taxi line) when I arrived into town.

I took a taxi to my (lovely) hostel, checked in, dropped off my bags, grabbed a map and headed out to explore Santiago.

hostel santiago

The front of my Santiago hostel

Cara, who I had met up with the week prior in Vina del Mar, was living in Santiago and taking Spanish classes. Prior to my arrival in Santiago, we made plans to meet at the starting point of a free walking tour.

The starting point of the tour was the Plaza de Armas, the central square so I made my way there and wandered a bit before Cara and I were scheduled to meet.

The tour was in English, and super informative. If I had to make a comparison, Santiago felt very much like it could have been a city in North America, in most cases.

More of Santiago’s architecture…including Pablo Neruda’s Santiago home (bottom).

Parks are a big part of life in Santiago. They felt pristine.

The other thing to note, is that because most people don’t live together until they are married, is that the parks become make out locations for couples. Example A: park benches were filled with couples like this one. Example B: Behind Cara, you see several couples embracing one another on the ground. Also, a frequent sight.

And, if you didn’t already know, sex sells. Billboards like this one were everywhere. Not sure if I noticed it more than in the US but it felt overwhelmingly naked in Santiago!

santiago ad

The day went quickly. Day turned to night. Cara and I had dinner.

Then, after some resting, we started our evening … at a club where Cumbia music was on tap. Cumbia is said to be the mother of Latin music. We were busy dancing and trying to figure out how it went, this was the only picture of the evening!


I got back to my hostel sometime in the middle of the night. The next morning, before leaving for the airport, I needed to take care of two things:

  • Check the internet
  • Visit the “American” supermarket to stock up on peanut butter.

First, check the internet. Why? Word on the street I had been told that the flooding in the Atacama Desert was pretty severe. The Atacama Desert is known to be the driest desert in the world. So, I sort of blew it off until, you know, hours before my flight to the center of it. I mean, how could a desert flood? Um, well it can. When I Googled “San Pedro flooding,” multiple articles stated that this was the worst flooding the region had seen in 11 years.


I emailed Alana and Courtney, who were probably at the airport for their overnight flight from the US to Santiago, where they would connect to Calama, the nearest airport to San Pedro de Atacama. I let them know about the flooding concerns. I confirm that my flight is a go and we’ll see each other the following day.

Second, visit the “American” supermarket. Why? As someone who is not a steak eater, I was unsure what I would do in remote, high-altitude, heavy meat eating countries. Along my travels, a few travelers had suggested getting peanut butter as a backup. So here I was … in the middle of Santiago … looking at Philadelphia cream cheese, many brands of yogurt and peanut butter that I recognized and enough candy to fill a candy store!

I purchased a plastic (wasn’t risking glass smashing when they throw your bags underneath the bus) jar of peanut butter and headed to the airport for my flight to Calama.

At the airport, of course I would see a Starbucks. The sign ‘para llevar’ was a phrase I had learned with Marisa in Mendoza …which means ‘to go’… and, in this case, made perfect sense. I smiled, knowing I understood exactly what it meant, and made my way to my gate.

para llevar.jpg


Exploring More Valparaiso

After returning to the city from our winery tour, the three of us parted ways. I quickly dropped off my bags at my new hostel and left to take in more of the city.

I headed to the port and took a boat ride. While on the boat, I met a family who took me in as one of their own and we continued on a tour of Pablo Neruda’s home.

The boat ride was educational and shared the story of the importance of Chile’s history as a crucial South American port city.

Pablo Neruda still is one of Chile’s favorite people. He was a poet and a bit eccentric as you can see when you walk through his home. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the interior but he loved the water so his home was built as if he was on a boat so out every window it looked like he was sailing.

I mentioned that there was another traveler who moved from our first hostel to the second. Later that evening, she and I met up at the hostel and decided to have Valentine’s Day dinner together in Valpo. No photos but our ceviche dishes were absolutely amazing.

Exploring Cordoba Day Two

After breakfast I headed out. Cordoba is a big university town. There are a lot of churches and museums. Because it was Sunday, my options were limited.

I decided to hit a modern art museum. It was fairly small so did not take much time. I went into the wrong museum first but it was more classical art and while it looked nice in the lobby, it wasn’t what I had in mind. This is what I had in mind.

art gallery2art gallery

art gallery3 art gallery4

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The structure below was the entrance to the museum. It was just sort of ‘there’ yet I still went to the wrong building.

art gallery7

The art museum did not take much time at all. One of the other places on my short list was the Paseo del Buen Pastor. It piqued my interest. It was a women’s jail – and most of the women were held for political reasons.

I basically circled the area several times because it didn’t even look like a jail. There were exhibits and cafes and a waterfall surrounding the facility and it was easy to miss — if you thought you were looking for an old run down jail.

waterfall  jail cordoba ana maria

These tiles were in the cement all around the jail. They each had quotes and I thought this was a nice one. This is the translation as I figured.

Translation: One word, one extended hand, a hug, advice, always someone who has to fight.

Since these women were detained for political movements, I thought this summed it up perfectly.

Word of the Day: Ferrocarril

As Laura continued showing me around Colonia on my first night, I learned my first new word on this adventure; ferrocarril.

The second attraction we visited was the Museo del Ferrocarril, a railroad museum.

We wandered around and Laura translated the guide’s explanations for me.

I learned about the railway lines that transported people, animals and cargo around Uruguay many years ago.

Everything was the original and all of the items had been restored. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos in the actual train cars but we walked through them.

Laura and her mom needed to get ready for dinner* for a friend’s birthday so they dropped me off at my apartment at 10.30pm so we made plans to meet at ten the next morning.

Thanks to the kindness of Laura and her mom, I received an incredible welcome on my first day in Uruguay!

* Yes, really. I was quickly reminded that dinner is not served early.