Museums, Neighboorhoods, and Food
30.01.2011 - 30.12.2010
During the last two days I have continued to wander and discover new things to like about Santiago. Having made friends with the Australians the first day, I have primarily hung out with them and in exchanging acting as official translator as the only Spanish-speaker in the group I got to share stories and take part in the first stages of their adventure.
Interestingly enough Sundays are not as much a day of rest but a time for everyone to go out. As such, prices go up, the streets are filled with locals, and most museums are free. As such, we took the opportunity to explore the city's museums, which included the Audiovisual Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of National History, and the Museum of Architecture and Design. Of these, my favorite looking facility was that of the Audio-Visual Museum, which was recently built as a part of an upcoming art complex. Inside one of the buildings was only one exhibition running while in the other there was a performing arts space that was presenting plays as a part of a month-long international festival and a library that looked to be better stocked. Along a tree-lined street bordering the museum, one finds very cool cafes, bookstores, and a popup street market that hark to other major cosmopolitan cities. It is along this that one finds the Archictecture and Design museum, which is a sister museum of the Audiovisual and has by far one of the coolest museum cafes. Inside there was a dichotomy between the more progressive installations and the exhibit of ancient Chilean artisenal works.
Down the street from the above museum and nestled inside the massive Parque Forestal is the Museum of Fine Arts. If I had to rank them based on their contents, this Museum would easily be at the top,with exhibitions profiling prominent South American artists and dealing with topics like America's relationship with Latin America, the lingering issues of national identity in celebrating the 200th anniversary of independence, and looking at the people and places that make up Santiago like other major cities.
One of the surprising side trips we took before going to the Museum of Fine Arts was going to Ros's Pizzeria and Gelato, recommended to us by one of the hostel staff. While gelato is gelato is gelato, the combination of toasted wheat and terremoto (local drink made of pineapple and wine) gelato was amazing on such a hot day. Another interesting side trip I took was up the San Lucia, which is a hill centered in the middle of the city with amazing panoramic views of the city. What makes it different and special from San Cristobal, the hill with the giant Statue of the Virgin, is that there are numerous secret trails, rest areas, and other elements built into the very stone of the hill and so well preserved given its location.
To end the night I went to Doggi's, a fast-food chain, and had a Mexican dog for about $2 that was topped with avocago, tomato, salsa, and melted nacho cheese. While it was delicious, it isn't the best of meals and is pretty indicative of the food situation here. Most of the options revolve around sandwiches or hot dogs covered in mayonnaise and palta (avocado spread) and tomatoes (likely the only greens), french fries covered in meat, eggs, and mayonaise, or fried meat covered in some combination of the above. To make matters worse, most restaurants don't serve still water and many markets in the area do not carry fruits and vegetables (even though Chile has many of each in season and acts as a bread basket to the US). For those of us who grew up with each in close proximity it has been a scavenger hunt that can be well rewarded by the low prices you find when veggies do turn up.
Since my first night I have not experienced so much of Santiago's night life, as usually by the time people are out or starting to come out (~12 AM) I am exhausted from a full day of walking around in the intense heat. Also, while I have had the privilege of continuing to meet interesting people in the hostel, most don't want to go out because they feel the same way. Otherwise, all has been good as I am starting to figure the whole thing with maximizing the hostel experience (Tip 1: if they serve toast buy eggs for an instantly improved breakfast) and have much more writing and pictures to upload to try and capture all that I have experienced.