Santiago Part 3: Neighborhoods and Districts

Santiago is a HUGE city, which means that there a lot of different neighborhoods with a lot of different styles! These were some of my favorites that I found from my time here in Chile!

Los Condes

Los Condes is sometimes called Sanhattan, since this district looks so similar to Manhattan! The area is full of high rises and banks, and they are all lined up on wide, clean streets. This area also has a lot of shopping with Mall Parque Aruaco. And because it is the nicest neighborhood in the city, you can see people making their way to the large golf course, Club de Golf los Leones, and others in very important looking suits. Because of the ritz and the glam Los Condes is able to stand out very easily from the rest of the city!

Providencia

I actually lived and worked in Providencia during my time in Chile! While Providencia may not look as fancy as Los Condes, it is still where a lot of people work and live. One of the tallest buildings in Providencia is the Costanera, the tallest building in Latin America! This skyscraper has a huge five story mall at the base, so there is a lot to do in the Costanera center. There’s a lot to see besides that though, with many local restaurants and bars around every corner. My favoorite part of Providencia is all of the cafés! My favorite thing to do on my way home from work is try a new café and have a pastry and hot drink! It is the perfect way to end the work day!

Bellavista

Bellavista is a neighborhood within the Providencia district, but it has its own distinct flare! Bellavista is separated from the rest of the district since it is across the Mapocho river. Once you cross the river, you are basically in Bellavista! This neighborhood is so distinct since it’s the part of the city where all of the clubs and bars are! But if you want to go during the day there is still a lot to do. You can grab a bite to eat at Patio Bellavista, an outdoor mall, visit one of the many lapis lazuli stores, take a tour of the Pablo Neruda house, stop by the zoo, or go to the top of Cerro San Cristobal!

Central Santiago

Central Santiago is filled with history! In this district you can find La Moneda, Plaza de la Constitucion, Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral, museums, and more! I took an hour tour around the area and learned a lot about the history behind many buildings, statues, and plazas. It was an amazing experience! I have also talked to others that have taken a four hour tour for tips around the area and they loved that as well! Did I mention that the architecture in this area is absolutely beautiful? I would say that this area is a must for anyone visiting!

Do you like exploring different parts of a city? What has been your favorite neighborhood that you have found? Join me and let’s look at the different parts that make up a whole city!

Santiago Part 2: Views

In Santiago you can see some pretty great views from the streets or from your room: Cerro San Cristobal and the Andes are always in view! But there a few places you have to go to get a view of the city itself.

The Costanera Center

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In the Costanera Center is an elevator that will take you to the top of highest observatory in Latin America, Sky Costanera! The observatory is 300 meters above the city, so you’re able to see everything! That isn’t all though. There are two observation decks. The first one is a typical observation deck. But if you go up an escalator, you’ll go to the second observation deck. This deck is special because there’s no roof! That’s rihgt! The glass goes up into the open air! I love this effect and on a warm sunny day the second floor of the observation deck is the perfect place to be.

Cerro San Cristobal

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If you can see Cerro San Cristobal from the city, you can definitely see the city from Cerro San Cristobal! But there is so much more than the view. My roommate and I got lucky and went to the top at sunset, which made for some of the best views! To get to the top you can take the funicular or the cable cars. We took the cable cars, and were able to see the city as the sun began to set! Once we were at Cerro San Cristobal we had an incredible 180° view of the city! We also had the chance to walk around the statue of the Virgin Mary, which was absolutely beautiful. Cerro San Cristobal was awesome!

Santa Lucia

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Another magical hill in town is Santa Lucia! The hill is made up of old castles and beautiful gardens, so walking up the hill to the top is a feast for the eyes. Unlike Cerro San Cristobal, the only way to the top of this hill is to walk! The walk is also very steep, with a lot of narrow stairs. But the top makes every step worth it! Not only do you get a view of the city, you get the view by standing on top of a castle tower! There are a lot of other views that you can see from different gardens, so there is more to Santa Lucia than just the very top!

Do you like getting a view of a city? Where has you forite view been? Join me and let’s explore the best way to get a view!

Santiago Part 1: Museums

When I arrived to Santiago I knew I would be working 9 to 5, Monday through Friday for my internship. This didn’t bother me because I thought I could see the whole city in one weekend. Boy, was I wrong! Santiago is a huge metropolis with so much more than a weekends worth of things to do! So how could I write about everything in one blog post? This first post about Santiago is dedicated to the many museums of the city!

Chilean National Museum of Natural History


Do you not have time explore all of Chile’s natural beauty? No problem! The Natural History Museum will walk you through all of Chile’s climates and ecosystems from the most northern desert to the most southern tundra. You’ll also get to see examples of the different plants and animals that live in each climate. Halfway through learning about Chile’s biogeography, you can take a break to see a massive skeleton of a blue whale! How cool is that? After seeing all the different climates, they also have exhibits about the anthropology and archeaology of the country’s indigenous tribes. All in all it was an amazing experience that everyone can enjoy!

Museum of Memory and Human Rights


This museum focuses on a darker side of Chile’s history. In 1973, there was a military coupe against president Salvador Allende, putting Augusto Pinochet in power. Although Pinochet enforced economic policies that have helped the country, these accomplishments stand in the shadows of the human rights violations commited during the same time. Thousands of people were forcibly prisoned due to their political beliefs and thousands were also killed for the same reason. This museum walks you through the events that led to the tragedy and what Chileans experienced during the Pinochet regime from 1973 to 1990.

La Moneda Cultural Center

The Cultural Center is actually underground! It is situated underneath La Moneda.

La Moneda Cultural Center is the art and culture museum of Santiago. It opened very recently in 2006, and when I asked a tour guide why it was built she replied “Well, Chileans aren’t necessarily the most cultured people.” This worked out well in my favor though because when I went to visit they had an Andy Warhol exhibit! SCORE! They also had other smaller exhibits from Chilean artists. But my two favorite things besides the Warhol exhibit were the fair and the bread exhibit. By the time we finished the Andy Warhol exhibit, there were local pop artists setting up booths with jewelry, notebooks, tee shirts and prints! And before my roommate and I left we came across an exhibit about bread! Who doesn’t love bread? And in Chile they have types of bread that I have never seen anywhere else! Getting to learn about Chile’s history with bread and how some of it is made was very special!

Do you like going to museums? What kind? Jin me and let’s explore the museums in our world!

Valparaíso

Before I came to Chile, there was one thing I knew I wanted to do: explore Valparaíso! Commonly called Valpo, it is a beautiful port town filled with art and color! While it is a small area, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore!

Walking Tour

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I was super fortunate when I went to Valpo: a friend of a friend of a friend is a tour guide in the city, so he gave my roommate and I a free tour of the city! I really enjoyed it because it was very easy to talk with him if we ever had any questions or observations, and he was able to show us what locals actually see. On our walk we saw sites like the Paseo YugoslavoPaseo GervasoniPaseo Atkinsonthe Anglican Church of St. Paul, and so much more! All of the paseos are pedestrian walkways that give you beautiful views of the port and the city. Each paseo is also very unique! Paseo Yugoslavo has the Palacio Baburizza, which was built with an eastern European influence and now houses the city’s fine art museum. Paseo Atkinson has a British feel, with the flat house fronts and small gardens in front. And the Anglican Church looks… Catholic? The reason for this is because at the time of its construction, only Catholicism was allowed in Chile so they had to practice their religion in secret! Getting to see and hear the stories of these buildings made the walking tour one of the highlights of the trip.

Street Art


Everywhere you look, there is street art in Valpo! I was lucky enough to see some of the most internet famous pieces of art in the city, each one on accident! The first one we walked across say “We are not hippies, we are happies”. We got to snap a picture right before a number of tourists descended upon it! Later on walking back to our Airbnb, we found the piano stairs! They are actually right next to the Anglican Church, and knowing they were nect to such an important landmark made it easy to come back to later! There is also a lot more art than what people usually post on the ‘gram, so I definitely recommend walking around to see what art inspires you!

Piers and Docks


Valpo is a port town, so I recommend walking by the piers and docks! Close to Plaza Sotomayer is a market by the docks, and a lot of little boats that will take you around the docks to see the ships up close and personal! I did not do one of the boat tours, but I personally don’t feel like I missed out on the experience. One thing I definitely recommend is going to the pier to watch the sunset! The pier we went to had a place to rent kayaks during the day, but my friend and I opted to sit on the dock. (I was too scared of getting wet in the cold weather! Haha!) This simple activity was super fun: the pier was the perfect place for people watching, we could watch some people casting lines out into the sea, see the city change colors as the sun set, and get a look at some sea lions swimming near by! I was really happy we had the chance to go and enjoy relaxing by the ocean.

I barely scratched the surface of Valparaíso in this post. There are so many little cafés, restaurants, and art shops scattered throughout the city! Even while we were walkig around we only saw a portion of the city! Do you think you might want to go to Valparaíso? Have you visited other artsy cities in the world? Join me and let’s explore our world!

The Atacama Desert

My very first weekend in Chile was spent exploring the wonders of the Atacama Desert! Before I went, I thought to myself “It’s a desert? What’s the big deal?” But after experiencing it for myself, it is a very, very big deal!

San Pedro de Atacama

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The most popular tourist town in the desert is San Pedro, and it is easy to see why! The charming town is made up of dirt roads and adobe walls and buildings, making you feel at home in the desert. Although the town has a rustic feel, it has a variety of upscale restaurants and shops. This came in handy when I needed to buy a windbreaker from the North Face store! But off of the main street is where you can find the artisanal market, filled with copper jewelry and llama figurines. San Pedro is a cozy town with a lot to offer, but there is so much more beyond the walls of the village.

El Valle de la Luna


One of the very first areas we saw after arriving was El Valle de la Luna, or the Valley of the Moon! The tour of the protected area began with walking through salt caverns! Yes. Salt caverns. While it was all above ground it was still an incredible area to walk through, especially getting to see and touch all the salt still in the earth. And at the end of the walk we ended up on top of a hill! The hill gave us spectacular views of the red rocks covered in gypsum, making it look like it had just snowed. Afterwards we had the chance to see the Ampitheater and the Three Marys, both of which were extremely beautiful. But my favorite part wasn’t necessarily in the park…

Closer to sunset the tour took us out of the park and up to a large cliff. From the we could see the entire park and the Andes and watch them change colors during sunset! It was magnificent! El Valle de la Luna turned bright orange and gold, and eventually the Andes turned a rosie pink. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Las Piedras Rojas y Salar de Atacama


Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to go see Las Piedras Rojas! While it was too cold and windy to take a picture of the red rocks on top of the mountain, there were plenty of photo ops on the way to the top! We passed by the Tropic of Capricon going south from San Pedro to the mountains and got to watch the sun rise over the mountains. But my personal favorite photo from the drive was of the vicuña! Vicuñas are relatives of the llama and a camelid, meaning they can store water! They are also small in size and very fluffy, so they are now one of my favorite animals! Haha!

After seeing Las Piedras Rojas we went all the way back down the mountain to Salar de Atacama! Salar de Atacama is the largest salt flat in Chile and also has a salt lake. Due to the salt and other elements the area has a rugged landscape, which has a very different look and feel compared to the mountains. And there aren’t any vicuñas near the salt flat, but flamingos instead! Many flamingos come to the salt flat during migration and we were lucky enough to see a few flamingos even though they were very far away. All in all, it was a fantastic day seeing the natural landscape and wildlife. Lucky for me, the weekend wasn’t over yet!

Los Géiseres


Our last adventure in the desert was spectacular! We woke up before sunrise and went back up the mountains, but this time to see the geysers! Chile has the third largest geyser field in the world, and in order to get the best view of the steam without the crowds we arrived at the crack of dawn. As the sun rised we had the chance to walk around geysers and admire the moutains. One of the mountains overlooking the geysers is called El Tatio, which means the crying grandfather. The indigenous people called the mountain that since a stream flowed down the mountain, making it look like the mountain was crying. The geysers were absolutely beautiful, and are protected by the local communities. To me it was very meaningful that the community cares for such a fragile and wonderful area.

We also got to see some amazing things on the way down the mountain! We were able to see a wetland area, a small town and church, and try llama meat! (Which came from a farm, not from the wild.)

All in all the desert was more than I ever thought I would be! I discovered so much natural beauty there and I will never forget it. Has this post inspired you to come to Chile? Have you ever been on a trip that was more fun then expected? Join me and let’s explore our world of travel!

 

My First 10 Days in Chile

Hello friends!!!

Long time, no see! Unfortunately, I have not been active in the blogosphere lately but it is fortunately because I HAVE BEEN IN CHILE!

Yes, the trip that I have been talking about since forever has finally arrived and I am here to tell you about the emotional rollercoaster that has been my first 10 days.

Days 1-3

My first three days were like a dream. I arrived and I was immediately welcomed by two roommates! Being able to talk with them and join them on adventures made these three days surprisingly easy. The first night we went to the top of the Costanera Center, the tallest building in all of South America! Afterwards we saw Spider Man and grabbed dinner. The next day was spent going to a museum, attending a coffee fair, and spending the night dancing. On the third day one of my roommates left to go to school in a different city, so my other roommate and I spent the day relaxing, watching netflix, and attending church.

Days 4-7

The next four days were a little more stressful. On the fourth day I went and started my internship! Yep, I am here to work from 9-5! I was introduced to the office and the people I would be working with and my supervisor let me go home early. On Day 5 is when I started doing real work. Most of the time I help do research for a green highway project they are doing. While I am getting used to doing research and writing reports now, the first few days were very difficult to get used to. I have never worked a full length work day in an office and understanding a different language on top of that made it very tiring and stressful. Although I was stressed my supervisor said I was providing good research and reports, so I have that going for me!

Days 8-10

The first week of work I only really spent three whole days in the office. My first ¨day¨ was a half day, and I didn’t go to work on Friday because I had an excursion! My excursion was with my roommate (who is from the same university as me) and the director of the program from our univeristy. And we went to… THE ATACAMA DESERT! I know, going to the desert may not sound like the most fun thing to do but it was seriously one of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve ever been. While we did a lot (I’ll safe that for another post) it was also a stressful weekend. My roommate was sick the first day and a half, so I was left alone with the director. While I admire her, I was very stressed because it was the first time I had ever really spent any time with her and I wanted to make a good first impression. Another very stressful factor for me was that my roommate and director know each other very well, so I was intimidated by their close relationship. All of this caused me so much anxiety that I basically called my mom crying Saturday night. And as if my social anxiety weren’t enough, I was waking up at 5 AM everyday that weekend for tours so I didn’t get much sleep.

Day 11

On Day 11, Monday, everything that had been bottling up from the previous 10 days exploded. While work went very well and I finally started having a good attitude about my work days, the evening went downhill a lot from there. I was texting my sister, telling her how tired I was from the weekend (remember I was waking up at 5 every morning) and how I just wanted to relax. Well, she called me a potato. And, well, I took that comment to heart and it basically caused all the stress I was bottling up to explode. All the emotions I had been having about getting used to a real job, feeling homesick, having culture shock, and more just came rushing out. In all seriousness, I cried for hours. I was just overwhelmed by everything that had happened the last 10 days, the good and the bad.

While I was crying I called my mom to talk about how I was feeling and how I was dealing with it. It was also during this conversation that we decided it would be best for me to see a therapist when I return to school. In the past I had used student counseling services, but my mom and I agree that it is time for some long term professional help instead.

The good news is that after getting some good rest I felt 100% myself again yesterday. I enjoyed work and I had a good evening of relaxing! And today my supervisor has no work for me to do in this morning, so I FINALLY have time to write on my blog and catch up on what I have missed.

I hope that now I am in a better groove and schedule that I’ll be able to stay updated on things going on the blogging world on the daily like I was able to before my trip began. I also can NOT wait to share everything I experience and learn as I explore our world!

 

When To Pack – Packing Part 3

I pack certain things in a certain way, but when do I pack all of this??? In the final part of my packing series, I’m going to look at how I slowly collect things then pack them all at once!

About one week before I leave on any trip, I look at which clothes and items I want to take on my trip. This is so I can make a list to ensure that the clothes I want to take are clean and that the things I want to take are ready to go. In the case that anything doesn’t seem ready to pack…

few days before I leave I wash the clothes I want to take and make sure the things I want and need to take are ready to go. For example, I make sure I have enough toothpaste and soap for the length of the trip. If I do, great! If not, I run to the store to get what I need and everything is still great!

It isn’t until the day before  I leave that I actually start packing. Today I’m very fortunate because I do not need to go to work or run errands, so I can spend the whole day taking my time to pack. This is especially easy since I have done the things above, having already decided and preparing what I want to pack far in advance. While I’m almost done packing the majority of things today, there are some things that’ll have to wait until tomorrow…

This is because the day of the trip is usually when I pack my toiletries. This is because I use my face wash and toothpaste when I get up in the morning. And since I don’t have to be at the airport until tomorrow evening, I want to take the chance to shower and get cleaned up before leaving on my adventure! So while I’ll have some last minute packing, it won’t be very much at all or very difficult if I make a list of all the toiletries I’m going to pack.

When do you pack for a trip? The night before you leave? An hour before you leave? How long does it take for you to unpack once you get home??? Join me and discuss the kind of packer and traveler you are!

Click here for Packing Part 2.

Click here for Packing Part 1.

How To Pack – Packing Part 2

In my previous post I talked about what I am packing for my six week trip to Chile. Today, I’m excited to share my favorite tips and tricks for how to pack certain items!

Packing Cubes

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Packing cubes are an absolute LIFESAVER! I love them so much! Whether I am going away for weeks or a weekend these making organizing, packing, and unpacking my suitcase a thousand times easier. For my upcoming trip to Chile I am packing a lot of bulky, winter clothing. These packing cubes have helped compress the bulkier sweaters while keeping them looking nice so I can pack other clothes and toiletries. I have room for everything I need and it is organized so once I arrive to my destination it is easy to unpack and settle in.

Pill Box

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Personally, when i think of a pill box I usually think of my grandparents taking their medication. But I have learned that it has an even better use for travelers! I didn’t get my ears pierced until college, but since then I have learned that pill boxes are amazing for packing earrings. Each pair or two can have their own compartment, and it is easy to fit some necklaces and rings in the compartments as well. I love this because I know where I’m putting my earrings when I take them off, and I know that the lids will keep them safe inside.

Backpack, Carry On, or Checked Baggage

This is probably one of the most important strategies I use. Depending on the size of an item and when I’ll be using it after I arrive, I put an item in my backpack, my carry on, or my checked baggage. For example, I always put a sweater and a book in my backpack or purse so I have easy access to those things during my flight. For my carry on that goes in the overhead storage bin I put something I may need immediately once I arrive to my destination or that I can’t go without for long. These are items like pajamas, clean underwear, and medication.  Finally, my checked baggage has the majority of my things such as my wardrobe, large liquid toiletries, and things I may not need until I have settled in to my destination. Another strategy for checked baggage is to fill it with items that are a little easier to replace. One example of this are my hair styling tools. I love my hair straightener and would be devastated if it became lost with my checked baggage. But my blow dryer can be easily replaced once I arrive, so I packed it with my checked baggage suitcase.

What are some strategies you use to pack your things? Do you fold things a certain way? Pack like colors with one another? Please share and let’s think about the best way for each of us to pack!

 

What To Pack – Packing Part 1

Hello Friends!

I have some exciting news! I LEAVE FOR CHILE IN 3 DAYS! That’s right. It’s time to get everything together for my big trip!

I wanted to commemorate my pre-departure excitement by talking about packing! When I was thinking of this post I started looking at Pinterest and other blog posts about packing. A lot of the things I saw were very specific – which style of clothes to pack and how many of each item. While I don’t want to write about what I am packing specifically, I do want to write about the strategies I used to decide what to put in my luggage!

Mix & Match

The one strategy that anyone should use while packing whether they are packing for 6 weeks or 6 days is to bring clothes that you can mix and match! This will make deciding on an outfit each day easier. For each shirt I’m packing I have two or three cardigans to wear with it and three or four pairs of pants that match a shirt! This will make it easy to plan outfits the day before or throw something on in the morning. And since I’ll be in Chile for 6 weeks I can wear a variety of outfits without repeating the same one more than twice!

Layers

Another strategy that ties in with the idea of mixing and matching is to pack clothes that are easy to wear as layers! For example, I am taking many cardigans and pullovers that are easy and cute to wear with a button down or long sleeve shirt. This is especially important to me since I am traveling to a place where it is winter right now. But even on spring break or summer vacation when I’m going somewhere warm, I try to pack a cardigan that matches with the other clothes I packed.

The Right Amount

It’s important to have the right amount of clothes for your trip as well as the right amount of toiletries! While I was researching for this post, the idea of packing toiletries or buying them at your destination seemed like a commonly debated topic. But for me, I prefer to pack my toiletries before I leave on any trip. This is so I have my favorite products and the right amount for the length of my trip. Again, I’m going to be abroad for 6 weeks so I want some products that I know work for me (such as shampoo), so I went ahead and bought some brand new toiletries as to not run out while I’m away. I may not be able to buy my favorite brand in Chile, and it will make me comfortable and remind me of home too!

What are some rules you have for packing? Is there something you always take or leave at home? Join me as we look at how we prepare before we explore the world!

Where Were You A Year Ago? – JUNE BLOG CHALLENGE

A year ago I was spending my summer in Costa Rica! That’s right. 10 weeks in a beautiful paradise with wonderful people and even more wonderful experiences! It would be hard to detail all these experiences so I’ll just give some highlights…

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One of my very first excursions in Costa Rica was to Monteverde! It’s about five hours away from San Jose in the mountains and is absolutely gorgeous. Monteverde is a cloud forest, one of the rarest ecosystems on earth! Hiking through the forest is like visiting another world. The trees are humongous and the clouds pass through the mountains effortlessly. As well as hiking through the cloud forest, my friends and I took a night hike where our tour guide told us all about different plants, animals, and insects! I learned so much that night and loved it every minute of it.

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After spending time in the mountains, I visited the beach in Manual Antonio National Park! People come from all over the world to see the beaches in this park and its no wonder why. It has some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. This is also where I saw some of my first sloths and monkeys! The sloths were what you’d expect – lazy, slow, and very fun to look at. The monkeys were very different. They would get close to bags in hopes of stealing food and swing right over people! Manual Antonio was an exciting trip for sure!

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You see the girl jumping off the cliff into the waterfall? Yeah. That’s me. One weekend my friends and I went to a small beach town on the Pacific coast named Montezuma. While we were there went off the beaten path to this amazing waterfall! Luckily this was one of many waterfalls I had the chance to visit. The water was fresh and cool, and it was a lot of fun to just swim and chat with friends. Before we left I went ahead and jumped off the cliff! It was terrifying, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t make the leap!

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What else can there be to see after going to the mountains, the beach, and some waterfalls? A volcano apparently! Volcan Arenal is a beautiful volcano surrounded by a lake, a cozy town, and even some hot springs! We spent the morning hiking by the volcano and learning about it’s history and the ecosystem encircling it. Afterwards we spent a relaxing afternoon at Baldi Hot Springs! This weekend had the best of both worlds!

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This last photo was taken a day before I left my second home. In Downtown San Jose close to the government’s legislature is a sidewalk full of murals just like this! It was amazing to see such incredible art being encouraged in the city. A lot of the art dealt with social issues, but I absolutely adored this bubbly piece! It sums up how happy my time in Costa Rica really was.

Where were you a year ago? Where do you want to be a year from now? Let’s explore our past and future!

P.S. Looking at these pictures has made me seriously home sick for Costa Rica! I want to go back! 😦