La Serena, Valparaiso & Santiago

La Serena

1st – 3rd of July 2013

La Serena and the Valle de Elqui in particular was a relaxed trip I did together with Daryl and Xiao. The area is famous for its distilleries which produce Pisco, the Chilean national drink which originated in Peru. It is also perfect for stargazing since the air is very dry and there is no light pollution. That is why we chose to visit the Mamalluca Observatory where we took a tour in order to look at the stars. The views through the telescope are fantastic and allow you to see the sky in a way which you have probably never seen it in before. Amongst many other things we were, for example, able to see Saturn with its rings and two moons, it was incredible. Apart from those activities, the Valle de Elqui is just a nice area to spend a couple of days in if you have the time.

Valparaiso

04th – 6th of July 2013

Many people I had met on my trip recommended that I shorten my stay in Santiago so I would have a couple of extra days in Valparaiso. They also said that you either love or hate this city. Unfortunately I was drawn towards the last group and once I reached Santiago I regretted that I hadn’t spent one or two days less in Valparaiso. The reason is simple: If you are an art person, you’ll probably love this city – and I am not. It’s as simple as that. Of course Valparaiso has its nice corners, too. The mansion of Pablo Neruda, the colorful houses, the cemetery (sounds macabre, but it is really beautiful) or the many murals on house walls for example. But I found the city to be quite dirty and I just didn’t feel very comfortable. There is no particular reason for that; I guess the city just wasn’t that appealing to me. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they like Valparaiso or not, but I think I wouldn’t have missed much if I had not gone there. If you are on a tight schedule, skip it. There is better/more interesting things to do/see in Chile.

Santiago de Chile

7th – 8th of July 2013

Well, since I had “lost” a couple of days in Valparaiso, I unfortunately only had two full days in Santiago de Chile – in my opinion the better city. There are many things to do like for example the Museum of Human Rights (Admission is free) which gives you detailed information about the dictatorship in Chile during the years of 1973 – 1990. The reports of eyewitnesses of that period sent shivers down my spine reminding me of the history of my country. Seeing this museum is a definite MUST if you are in Santiago. Another nice thing to do are the Free Walking Tours. There is the main one which starts twice every day at 10 am and 3 pm from the main square and takes you to the main attractions of the city. Another one, which came highly recommended by other travelers, is the walking tour The Chilean Way which is run by a guy called Sebastian (woohoo!), a former employee of the hostel La casa roja where I stayed and where the tour starts. Like the name already says, this tour is more about the way the Chilenos live, the food they eat and the bars they go to. We saw a lot of fun things on this tour of which there is way too many to list them all. One highlight though was the short stop at a Café con piernas (Coffee with legs), basically a bastard child of a coffee house and a strip club. Originally the Cafes con piernas were/are just cafes in which the waitresses were/are wearing very tight dresses and high heels. At the place we visited the waitresses were lacking the dress which left the poor girls standing there in fluorescent lingerie. J A weird but fun experience, I suggest to make this a worldwide franchise, who’s in? Unfortunately taking photos wasn’t an option. And sorry ladies, there used to be the same thing for women with half naked men but the Chilean women were uncomfortable with the concept which is why these establishments closed down due to a lack of customers. If you are in Santiago, make sure to do this walking tour, definitely one of the best/most fun ones I have ever done. Both walking tours are for free but tip-based-

Of course there are many more interesting and fun things in Santiago. But unfortunately I ran out of time and couldn’t see them because I had stayed in Valparaiso for too long.

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