How did I spend 7 days in Santiago? Well, for the first day, I continued living la pura vida, Costa Rica style, and just chilled. After a long day of travel to Santiago via Panama, I arrived at my hostel at 1:30am only to find it without windows or charm. So, after breakfast, I used the spotty wifi to find a new hostel and made the short walk to a new hostel full of windows, charm, and lots of shaded chill space (Happy House Hostel). Now settled in my new Santiago home, I enjoyed the vibe for the day, chilled, stocked up on some groceries and chatted with some new friends.
Refreshed, I spent the rest of the week exploring Santiago: a wonderful art museum, gorgeous city parks and plazas, a few churches, a few bars, and lots of people watching. I also did a fun day hike to the Glacier San Francisco (about 2 hours SE of Santiago) with a fun brother & sister duo from New Zealand (their sibling interaction was very much like mine and Jabal’s) and enjoyed good wine, food, and company at the hostel with fun peeps from France (a documentary film maker) and Canada (a feed corn scientist). And on the day before leaving, I explored the lovely, coastal city of Valparaiso with my new Canadian friend.
Santiago is a lovely, modern, clean city with a welcoming charm but what stood out the most about this city, and Valparaiso, was the amazing street art, both the quality and the quantity. I was told that street art is a form of communication between residents of many Latin American cities, particularly as a way to transmit political views and allegiances. This is not unlike other cities, but what is different from US cities at least, is that street art is legal and encouraged in various forms including murals (as pictured below) and what we would call graffiti. For me, the charm and vibe of both cities is defined by the amazing, colorful, soulful, playful street art. Enjoy!
Travel notes: can take bus to/from airport (about $3 RT); recommend Happy House Hostel; tap water in Santiago is good (no treatment needed)