I grew up as one of those geeky egg-head types who didn’t care if I was cool. I absolutely was not! Over the years, though, both the world and I changed significantly so I have had accidental moments of coolness and have a lot better instincts.
While I still love Argentina and want to return at some point, I was really happy to see Santiago again! Since it was my birthday, I splurged on an even swankier hotel for my last few days in Chile. Not five star chain swank but rather super cool entrepreneur-run boutique hotel in trendy neighborhood.
The Aubrey is set in a 1927 family mansion lovingly restored by an ex-pat couple. It’s especially well-suited to couples. It has a bit of a gated community feel, which I found a bit unsettling but it’s located in Bellavista, which is possibly the most fun neighbourhood. It felt perfectly
safe and the gate seemed unnecessary. It’s a gorgeous space and you get wonderful staff, free breakfast and some other perks like a welcome cocktail.
I finally made it to the Fish Market. You can walk from Bellavista and I would recommend it as you will see the history of Santiago, from the colonial era treasures through the fin de siècle opulence to the shiny glass surfaces of prosperous, modern Chile. The Mercado Central is a zoo but definitely worth checking out. One lovely fishmonger even took a tourist photo for me. It’s also close to the Plaza de Armas.
Nearby is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, a
definite must-see for anyone interested in history or anthropology. The exhibits are well curated and there are all sorts of ancient treasures where you can learn about the indigenous tribes of Chile and the Americas.
All the walking meant a few blisters but I sucked it up and walked the streets a bit in the evening to try and find something interesting. In the Latin world, the night starts late so that can be challenging as a tourist. I finally settled on La Casa en el Aire. The friendly tout outside assured me there would be music and that is a great choice when you are travelling alone. He didn’t lie and the featured artist was very good so it seemed an excellent way to spend the night before my birthday.
I was fine sitting alone and enjoying the music and my pisco sour but a woman spotted me and came over to ask if I was alone. She then invited me to join her and her friend. They were both lovely and it meant that my birthday started at midnight on a spectacular note. Melissa spoke English but her friend did not so we used her mobile phone and a translation app to have a pretty sophisticated conversation. The ways of the modern world 🙂
Her boyfriend was at an Iron Maiden concert so they had come out instead to listen to Cuban music. I would be in Cuba a short time later so it was especially poignant. And they were both Marxists! How many Marxists do you meet these days? But Marxism brought benefits to Chile so it was intriguing to see it was still part of local politics.
We hugged on the street and I thanked them for such an amazing night. One of the greatest things I have learned from travel is how many kind, friendly, interesting people there are in the world. This seems especially true in Latin America.
It’s an excellent place to celebrate your birthday!