¡Hola! I am writing this from a plane (and finishing it from my couch). This week was Semana Santa (Holy Week), which, for those of us who aren’t so holy, is known as spring break. To celebrate, I went to Santiago, Chile! I went with two friends from Gringolandia, Amanda and Chelsea. It was a great week! I had wanted to blog as I went, but we ended up being so busy that I didn’t have time, so I guess it’ll all be in one post. Apologies in advance because I have a feeling this one will be a long one! I’ll try to just post the highlights, but you know me…being concise is the hardest thing ever!
Sabado, 19 marzo
Saturday was a big travel day; Amanda and I left the compound around 9:30am (Chelsea was on a later flight). Everything went well until we got on the runway and just sat there on the plane for an hour (luckily we had an exit row and tons of space!). Given that we only had a 30-minute layover, we started getting nervous about making our connection. However, we tried not to worry too much about it, and we stretched out our legs in the exit row and relaxed. It’s not like we could do anything to control our connection anyway. We just kept hoping that we’d at least get on another Saturday flight so we didn’t have to miss Lollapalooza!
As it turns out, we did miss our connection (we arrived in Panama City 30 minutes after it departed. We went to the gate just on the off chance, but hey, what’re ya gonna do, right?
We made our way to the information counter and found a Copa representative who was calling everyone who was going to Santiago. After a quick and hilarious “Amazing Race” moment where Amanda almost ripped the golden tickets out of the guy’s hands, we realized that he already had new boarding passes for the next flight printed for us. And guess what?? We were upgraded to first class! Woo hoo!!
So, we ended up having more of a layover than expected, but we didn’t mind. We sat around, checked all the media, texted Chelsea and our airbnb host to alert them about the delay, and waited for our plane. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful; we had a lovely first class flight, landed around 3am, met up with Chelsea, arrived at our apartment by 5am, and went back to sleep. We wanted to be nice and refreshed for the concert!
Domingo, 20 marzo
Sunday was our day for Lollapalooza, which was very exciting! We slept nice and late, and then headed to a cute little neighborhood called Bellas Artes (pronounced Bay-as Art-eys) for breakfast. On the way back to the hotel, we found a cute little healthy living feria, so we walked around there for a while. It was pretty cool because the city closes some major streets on Sundays so there’s more room for runners and cyclists. It definitely made me kinda wish I lived in a city with safer streets; I would fear for my life if I tried to ride a bike in San Jose!!
Speaking of cities, as a quick side note, I need to say that if you are sitting here thinking Chile is a “third world country,” get that stereotype out of your head! If I didn’t keep hearing Spanish, I would’ve thought I was in the States. The city is gorgeous and super clean. The metro is easy to use and well organized, and for sure you can find all the comforts of home. If I had to describe it in terms of United Statesian cities, I think I’d say it’s like a more modern Philly, or maybe Chicago but without the cool architecture. There are tons of hip restaurants and bars, cute local markets, fun events to attend.
Which brings me out of my digression and back to Lollapalooza!
Basically the whole reason we even thought of going to Chile was Lollapalooza, but with a bit of a twist. A couple months ago, I randomly googled “of monsters and men tour” to see if OMAM would be coming to Costa Rica (I conduct this search on a quasi-regular basis). I was excited to see that they were actually coming to Latin America, but I was bummed that they wouldn’t been in Coata Rica. But then the angels began singing once I realized that they’d be in Chile on March 20, which was my spring break! Of course I immediately texted Amanda to see if she’d be up for heading to Santiago to see one of my favorite bands, and lo and behold, she was! And so was Chelsea! So, we started planning.
And then we found out that you should never trust google for concert dates.
That’s right, folks. OMAM was playing Lolla Chile on 3/19, not 3/20! And there was no way we could make it there in time without missing work, which we couldn’t do. So, our trip that started as a way for me to finally see OMAM live (weird, literally the second I typed that, an OMAM song came on my spotify playlist) turned into an amazing trip, but one without any Dirty Paws or Organs. C’est la vie.
Yet I digress again. So anyway, we knew we’d have a great time no matter what, and we were right! We arrived at Parque O’Higgins (the most Spanish-sounding park name ever) just in time for Twenty-One Pilots, who, in my opinion were the best show of the day (well, tied for first with Mumford & Sons, of course). But because this post is already getting long (for me to write and you to read), I shall switch into list format to cover the highlights of the day.
- The itinerary: Twenty-one Pilots -> shopping in the vendor stalls while Bad Religion played -> food -> Alabama Shakes -> Brandon Flowers (lead singer of The Kilers, who was good but an odd replacement for Snoop Dogg) -> Noah Gallagher and the Flying Something-or-other, while we wandered around the green village -> Mumford and Sons -> Florence and the Machine (disappointing, which is strange because I love her normally) -> Bellas Artes for a late dinner
- The venue (the aforementioned Parque O’Higgins): huge, clean, well organized, great layout. What impressed us most was how eco-conscious they were. First, they had people walking around with bags for recycling all day long. So if someone had a bottle of water or soda (no beer because they didn’t sell booze at the event), most likely someone would take their empty bottle for them before they had a chance to litter. This clean-as-you-go tactic was extremely effective, especially when combined with the water refill station and reusable cups. I bought a Lollapalooza cup when I ordered a soda. So, even though technically I bought a can of Pepsi, they never gave me the can. They poured the soda into my cup, so I never had the opportunity to litter (not that I would have, obviously). And the coolest part is that since I then had a cup, I was able to go to this water station, which looked like a beer stand only without beer, and fill up my cup with agua whenever I wanted. Not only did that save me a bunch of pesos, but I can’t even imagine how many water bottles they saved! Take that, PNC Arts Center and your $6 waters!!
- Despite the lack of booze, the smoking culture was in full effect at the show. (I’m talking about cigarettes here, although I suppose the same could be said for the other kind of smoking as well.) Santiago reminded me of Mallorca with all the cigarettes; smoking is much more common there than it seems to be in the States or Costa Rica. It was an outside venue, so most of the time I didn’t mind it. However, it was super annoying when people were smoking cigarettes in the middle of the dancing crowd during the performances. I really don’t understand how I didn’t get burned!
- Even worse than the cigarettes in the crowds was the backpack mafia. I swear, people dancing in packed crowds while wearing backpacks are the worst kind of people. I felt like I was getting rugburn from all the backpacks rubbing up on me! If you ask me, everyone should wear fanny packs (side note: fanny packs are bæ)!
Ok, enough about Lolla. Here are some pics!
Lunes, 21 marzo
Monday was a touristy day filled with walking around the city (a LOT of walking…20,000 steps, according to my phone). We started our day in a really cute neighborhood called Bella Vista, where we had a delicious breakfast even though it was past breakfast time. There were a ton of cute shops, so after breakfast we walked around a did a little window shopping.
We then met up with Amanda’s high school friend, who has lived in Santiago for the past couple of years. She took us around to see some sights, the first of which was Cerro San Cristobal (cerro means hill). Our good friends at wikipedia have informed me that San Cristobal is the second highest hill in Santiago, in case you were interested in that fun fact. On the way, we were able to see some really awesome street art; there’s so much of it in Santiago! I loved all the colors and the artsy vibe of the city; I could definitely see myself living there. If only it weren’t so darn far away from New Jersey!
Once we go to Cerro San Cristobal, we rode the funicular (uphill cable railway) to the top so we could check out the amazing city views and also visit the sanctuary that is up there. There’s also a giant statue of the Virgin Mary that watches over the city. I’m not a churchy kind of girl, but I can appreciate the beauty of the monument, and it was nice to see it and spend some quiet time reflecting in the sanctuary.
Here are a bunch of photos from the day; you can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.
After the hill, we took a very long walk to a different part of the city called Providencia. I would compare it to a cool neighborhood in New York City (maybe Brooklyn? I don’t know, my NYC geography stinks). It had cool bars and restaurants, lots of bookstores, and cute apartments for 30-somethings (so yes, basically where I’d want to live if I moved to Santiago!).
The walk was nice but generally uneventful. We stopped for some ice cream and hung out a bit before we headed back to our apartment. The rush hour traffic above and below ground was insane, which caused us a bit of dismay because we didn’t want to walk the 40 million miles we walked to get to Providencia. We were finally able to get a cab, who dropped us off at the elusive Casa Royale, which is basically the Chilean version of Radio Shack. Amanda and Chelsea needed a hair straightener, and buying it was quite the process! Never mind the language barrier (Chilean Spanish is really hard to understand), but the purchasing procedure is crazy, too! There’s someone to help you find what you need (they went and got it for us rather than us just going to the aisle and grabbing it), and then you have to go to a separate person (at the caja, or register) to pay for the item. Then once you’ve paid, you go back to the original person with the receipt so he can give you the thing. It seemed unnecessarily complicated but pretty typical; we had the same adventure when buying something in a farmacia, even though it wasn’t anything expensive at all. I guess that’s just the way it goes there.
That’s basically it for Monday; we had a late dinner in Bellas Artes and then headed back to our apartment to bed.
I just noticed that this post is over 2,000 words, which means I’ll end it here and do a separate one for part 2 of the Chilean adventure. So, stay tuned for more soon! Ciao!