After an amazing three days in the desert, where I basically walked on the moon, toured a salt flat, and went up 15,000 feet above sea level to survey geysers, it was time for me to go back to Santiago.
The sky was blue and the air was crisp as I boarded the plane and prepared myself for the two hour journey back to Chile’s capital city. I internally waved goodbye to the desert as I peered out the plane window.
While I already missed the desert, I was excited for what was in store for my remaining days in Chile. While I was planning to sink my teeth into some more Santiago sightseeing, what I was most amped about was my upcoming rendezvous with Kyle and Emily, two of my favourite bloggers so just happen to live in Santiago, and graciously accepted to meet me during my stay! I was due to meet up with Kyle for lunch that very afternoon!
But first, I had to schlep my stuff to my next place of residence. After a painless landing and luggage collection, I toted my pack onto the bus departing the airport and bound for downtown. Getting off at the Pajaritos stop, I boarded the Santiago’s metro, and, after a quick consultation of my map, found myself at my hostel, the Hostal Luna Calypso.
Can I just gush a little about this place??? I talked in a previous post about how I think I’m getting too old to stay in hostels. I definitely am. But let’s get real. Hostels are cheap, and sometimes necessary for those on a budget like myself. Plus, when you’re travelling alone, staying in hostels is a great way to meet fellow travellers and avoid loneliness. My first night in Chile, I stayed in a fabulous hostel in Santiago. It was clean, spacious, and I even ended up having the whole 6-bed dorm to myself! Absolute bliss. My faith was renewed in budget accomodation.
But then I flew to the Atacama desert. I didn’t write about my hostel experiences there (didn’t want to flame any of the places I was staying), but it was a disaster. The first two nights, I stayed in a hostel whose bathroom was so disgusting I seriously considered not showering. My third night in the desert I stayed in another hostel that also had a yucky bathroom. I was not happy. I also started to come down with the flu, which I attributed to these gross living conditions,even though it was probably due to the flagrant temperature changes that occur in the Atacama (very cold in the evening and morning, but extremely hot in the afternoon).
Still, after that fiasco, I was DETERMINED to stay in a nice (inexpensive) place upon my return to Santiago. And that’s where the Luna Calypso comes in.
A brand new hostel that is more like a B&B (I think the place only has like 5 rooms, 2 of which are private), the place is owned by the nicest Chilean lady named Karen. After my ordeal sharing dorms and bathrooms with nasty strangers, I opted for a private room. To be honest, when I booked the place online, I was highly skeptical because at slightly less than $20 USD a night, it seemed to good to be true. But this w(e)ary traveller was not disappointed. The room, while tiny, was SPOTLESS. The washroom, while kind of bizarre since the shower was not seperate from the toilet (they do that a lot in Asia, too!) was GLISTENING. All the fixtures were new, and the room smelled fresh. I was in heaven.
But I had no time to gape in wonderment at the awesomeness of my room. Because I had a date. With Ms. Kyle Hepp!
I don’t remember exactly when I first started reading Kyle’s blog. But it was yearssss ago, when she first moved to Chile and jotted down her musings of an American expat living in Santiago. I think her blog was called “Just Married Chilean Style”? I don’t remember. Anyway, I lost touch of her blog until maybe about two years ago, when I discovered Kyle Hepp Photography and put two and two together, realizing that this was the same mamacita whose blog I read before. Re-christened a photographer, forming one half of a ridiculously talented photog team along with her husband Seba, Kyle jets around the world snapping weddings and lets us all in on the party via her blogs and stunning photos. Anyway, not only was it an honour finally meeting this dynamic woman in the flesh, she gets even more points from me because she took me out to lunch at one of her fave restaurants. You know I love good food and good convo. Kyle Hepp is an amazing woman.
Kyle took me to Peluqueria Francesa, which is this very cool French barbershop-turned-restaurant located in what appeared to be Santiago’s antique/designer district. Besides the mouth-wateringly yummy dish above, I loved the place because of its very stylish decor and history. The restaurant even had a fully-operational barbershop attached to it.
Of course Kyle and I couldn’t resist getting up into the mix and having our photo taken:
Nor could the barber, who managed to sneak his face into the shot, if you look closely.
Kyle and I parted ways, promising to meet the next day for a chicky powwow with Ms. Emily of Don’t Call Me Gringa. My sixth day in Chile, I awoke to grey hazy skies. Not the best of weather, since I planned to go up to one of the highest points in Santiago, but c’est la vie! I left my hostel and got on the trusty Santiago metro. Destination: Cerro de San Cristobal.
I took the funicular car up, up, and up…
…and had a look onto the sprawling city limits of Santiago. Even in the smog it was impressive.
At the viewpoint, I met two Argentinian women, tourists, who took my photo, then offered me to join them for a coffee. Feeling slightly anti-social (slightly shocking considering my usual gregariousness), I declined their offer and went off to explore the rest of the site on my own. The flower beds scattered all over gave a much needed burst of colour to the drab grey atmosphere.
There is a zoo near the top of the Cerro San Cristobal, but feeling tired (and cheap), I decided to skip the attraction and use the extra time to walk back to my hostel instead.
Next up was my date! I met up with Kyle and Emily at Boudoir, a swanky restaurant that unfortunately didn’t live up to its cachet and decor (read Emily’s review here). But no matter! I was in the company of the coolest chicks in Santiago and we had a barrel of laughs. It was cool to finally meet Emily, who is the veritable “it” girl of Santiago, and whose blog is a font of information for what to see and do in the capital, as well as all over Chile! She is gorgeous, impeccably well-heeled (um, yes, I STILL am coveting the shoes you wore on that night, Emily), and funny. I’m so glad to have had the chance to meet her and am excited to see her again- she’ll be making a stopover in London in the next few weeks! Having jet-setting blogger friends rocks.
Between chatting up the handsome Chilean-French waiter, trading expat stories, and just general girl talk, hilarity ensued. We had a few group photos taken of us that made us look like short, fat children, and which I will thusly refrain from posting. But it was a fab time nevertheless, and I managed to get the shot below, which I’m sure all parties will approve of.
After giving myself a headache from laughing so much, I walked back to my hostel and snuggled up in my quiet bedroom (oh, the joys of a private room!). Sighing with contentment, I went to bed. There were more adventures to be had tomorrow!
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