Pisco Elqui and Santiago

Pisco Elqui (June 26- 28, 2016)

We have been on the go constantly. Not taking many days of rest. Any days we had without activities we’ve been utilizing to plan our next destination. Therefore, we choose to go to Pisco Elqui. In addition to needing an extra stop to Santiago to avoid a 24 bus ride.

On our way to Pisco Elqui. Part of Valle de Elqui, which is the name of the general area.

On our way to Pisco Elqui. Part of Valle de Elqui, which is the name of the general area.

Pisco Elqui is a little town up in the mountains. We could have chosen to do activities such as hiking, horseback riding, star gazing, biking, etc. We settled on doing nothing and recharging instead. Being secluded, barely any cars and only the occasional bus drive through this quiet town. 10pm seems the time all the stores are closed and everybody stays inside. The perfect spot to relax and get a good night of sleep. If you are into wine, during season they are supposed to have delicious selection. I enjoyed kicking back while looking at the mountain range, some tops snowy white. Beautiful starry nights as well. But enough relaxing; off to the major city.

Santiago (June 28- 30, 2016)
The capital of Chile definitely has a different feel than quiet Pisco Elqui. Much more hustle and bustle and offering the typical tourist attractions most cities do. We zoomed through our interests in one day, gazing at the old and new architectural buildings surrounding us and the tons of hot dog restaurants/stands.

Hazy view of Santiago

Hazy view of Santiago

Mapping our way to the main square, we checked out the Metropolitan Cathedral and then entered the National Museum. Cool that the entry is free, but all the signs are in Spanish, so we shelled out an entire dollar to share an English recorded guide. The displays have these crimson orbs that we pointed a lazier at with our borrowed guide to hear the story of the piece. Initially we listened to every single one until we decided that the focus of the museum wasn’t what we were interested in. The museum contains a lot of historic paintings, but often the explanations solemnly talked about the object itself and not much of the history. Only the entry plate gave a quick rundown on the story of the entire room.

Almost more entertaining was watching the zombie (kid) hoards in the museum. That day happened to have 2 class excursions. The elementary schoolers would walk to a display, look at the objects for a few seconds, and indifferently go on to the next. Museums aren’t fun when you don’t know what you are looking at. The high schoolers, on the other hand, would snap a picture of every single item. What are they going to do with all those pictures? To me they didn’t even seem to be looking at the descriptions. They will own hundreds of pictures of things they don’t even know what it is. Congratulations. But what’s the purpose of that? Human behavior cracks me up.

Escaping the hoard, we managed to find the nearby park. This park had an unexpected colonial style castle. Climbing the dangerous, steep, stone steps, we discovered a fantastic view of the city. The city has a big hill in the center that tourists conquer to get the best vantage point, but the foggy weather would have made our visit pointless. The view from the castle has satisfied our needs and given us a decent impression of the structure and build of Santiago and a hazy view of the mountain range.

The castle and its garden.

The castle and its garden.

We then staggered to a different park. I say staggered because we couldn’t decide on the direction. Needing to cross a main street with multiple lanes and no crosswalk in sight on this curved road, we paced up and down the same small stretch a few times until we ended up jaywalking frogger style. Our confusion must have appeared strange for onlookers, they must have felt the same way I do when playing Zootycoon and trying to figure out why this stupid virtual person is walking back and forth a few times until finally moving on. What are they thinking? Circling is pointless.

Our state of being lost didn’t stop there. We were searching for a cultural museum which wanted to remain unfound. Throwing in our white flag, we returned to our hostel going along the main street to view various stands and people watch. Others have raved about Santiago. But we left a little disappointed. We aren’t into the nightlife scene. Besides that, did we miss anything? The destinations we saw were good, but seen better in previous countries. What makes this city so great? Please let me know in the comments below, because I truly feel that I accidentally skipped something. However, we did eat the best and biggest empanadas of South America in Santiago (made to order rather than premade and reheated). Anyways, at the hostel, we ended our full day by binging on a huge tube of ice cream. 3 flavors. Don’t regret any bite.

Cost breakdown of Pisco Elqui in USD:

  • Hostel: $17.47 (1 night which incl. breakfast)
  • Transportation: $29.55 (initial busses to the city)
  • Food: $10.39
    • $9.31 meals
    • $0.35 groceries
    • $0.73 snack
  • Miscellaneous: $0.58 (bathroom usage)

Total: $57.99. Daily Average Cost: $29

Cost breakdown of Santiago in USD:

  • Hostel: $21 (2 nights. 1 night incl. breakfast)
  • Transportation: $16 (initial transportation to the city)
  • Food: $11.02
    • $5.53 meals
    • $5.49 groceries
  • Activity: $0.73 (National Museum)

Total: $48.75. Daily Average Cost: $24.38