Damn I love Santiago. I thought Bogotá was pretty sweet… but Santiago is working its way up the rungs rather quickly. It could be the existence of a metro system (AHEM Bogotá). Or the massive autumn-infused parks. Or the fact that I got inappropriately day drunk while riding a bike through a vineyard yesterday (arg La Bicicleta Verde). Then cried. Then felt sorry for myself. Then felt amazing once I woke up from 10 hours of stress-induced sleep, as I truly had nothing to bitch about. Yeah, I sure do love Santiago. Especially now that I’ve time traveled to through Santiago on a gorgeous Sunday.
It started with Peluquería Francesa, i.e. a French barbershop turned restaurant. Case in point, I am a sucker for anything vintage. So the idea of eating within an old-timey building from 1868 seemed right up my alley. Peluquería Francesa, which literally means “French barbership,” is a protected historical building. Half legit barbershop (about 8,000 pesos for a shave) and half chic restaurant. It’s littered with two floors of old antiques in a dusty, disorganized manner… of which I was encouraged to oogle over by the triad of flirtatious male staff members in dapper outfits. They practically held my hand as I explored the empty salons, perhaps the way a lady may have been treated in that era. Le sigh…
Much of the antiques in the restaurant are up for sale. And though I don’t have any space in my life for vintage rusty razors, I definitely coveted the building and the 1900s atmosphere for myself. What did they say in “Midnight in Paris” when referring to a longing for the past? That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying. I think the present is pretty satisfying. But sometimes it’s nice to pretend otherwise… especially when writing blog entries in 2017.
Quinta Normal greenhouse
To continue your time travel, stroll down the street to the gem of a park known as Quinta Normal. It is here, tucked to one side, you will find an abandoned greenhouse. Yes, it has a secure fence circling it in like a fortress. But simply test the fence (as we “accidentally” did) and you’ll find that one section flaps up. Allowing for a bit of fun trespassing. And super secret photo ops.
Vintage puppet shows
As we happened to pass through Santiago on the weekend, several impromptu markets and local artists were set up in our neighborhood of Lastarria. We came across a few young men giving puppet shows using old wooden camera boxes. I tried out “Pesadillas” which means nightmares. I covered my head with a dark cloth and put on a set of headphones. The “show” lasted only three minutes, using only paper puppets and sound effects. And it was amazing. I literally jumped at one point when the puppet attacked my face and the door slammed. There definitely seems to be a movement to try and save these wooden camera boxes.
Other ways to dive into the past
- Museo Histórico Nacional (free on Sundays and holidays)
- The Houses of Pablo Neruda, famous poet and romantic favorite of mine. “So close that your hand is my hand. So close that your eyes close when I fall asleep…” AUDIBLE SIGH…
- Santa Lucia Hill, where conqueror Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago and which provides a great view of the city.
- Bar Linguria, vintage-style drinking establishment with lots of posters and Chilean memorabilia, as well as killer pisco sours OR Chipe Libre, to really delve into the history of pisco sours with their extensive and flights.