I can understand people’s obsession with doors we see in all those blog posts collecting the wonder of how people enclose themselves in cities and towns and even small villages. I always fall for the weathered, a proper-doorknob-and-doorbell-missing ones, old and hardly magnificent. Their stories touch me through those small cracks where the Atlantic wind whistles its way in, the shades and the lines written on them by the winter rain and harsh sun. Then, someone even dares to draw their own!
And there was that one on a tower in the middle of a village in Atacama, low and narrow in between the wall’s scars, like a niche entrance into a secret you might never get if you try too much, yet I hope I did. I sensed a treasure, but … ah nevermind.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes we get the biggest warnings for the things, cities, sites we enjoy the most in the end?
That was the case for Valparaiso, Chile. So many people warned me about this city I fell in love with at the first sight. Be careful at the bus station when you get there, thieves all over. Don’t go out at night alone… or at all. If I were you, I’d avoid the port area. Just in general, it’s a dodgy town, so you know. Even the free-tour guide told us ”we are entering a less safe area” while we were walking the street above.
Plus, at the spot in the photo, there was a big gas explosion years ago, ruining a lovely street. Oh well… I loved it anyways, the building’s skeleton gave it a sort of robust look, but some soul, too, which comes with every plot. It seemed like it’s a story, truly belonging to this city where everything seems on shaky grounds.
Luckily, I only had positive experiences, even walking around after sunset didn’t cause me any trouble, although I was never alone. All the kind words before my arrival had succeeded in making me a bit cautious, yet I felt at ease after the first few minutes. I adored just roaming around and exploring every possible street and it ended up being my favourite part of the Chile journey… At least excluding Atacama, that one is a real competitor!
Being a city girl, my everyday notion of nature usually ends with cats climbing roofs, trees along the avenues, luscious parks or at best occasional trips to the country/seaside. City jungle is just as much part of the planet as the ancient labyrinths, booming with life, yet to really know what Earth fully represents you have to go in the middle of somewhere where kilometres and miles and acres of land lack human built settlements. Personally, it was in Atacama, Chile, where I felt the Earth’s history without the anthropocentric elements. The story of the rocks, maybe. And now, I sense a constant need in my feet to be in touch with the actual ground, minus the asphalt. I might have woken up from a subtle daydream.
There’s nothing saying new horizons better than superb views, especially those including water or the higher bird-like eye. It inevitably and instantly puts you in the meditative mood. In Puerto Varas, South of Chile, I found it very enlightening to watch the same lake from so many different perspectives. Diverse viewpoints on its coastline, the towns and villages with that strangely Germanic charm… And then the ones from the top of the special kind of mountains, the occasionally erupting ones. All so equally beautiful, from up above to down below, and vice versa. Looking back now, on the adventure of the year, as sad as I can be it was the only long one, I can see how holding on to one single perspective is impoverishing and how sometimes opening your eyes to multiplicity of things in front of us is complementary to the search of the actual new. Maybe that is why I’ve always felt dedicated to that quest without ever really making it my resolution.
Water is healing. Petrohué River, Los Lagos, Chile.
Water is healing, water embracing you in a lake, your swimming fingers caressed by a gentle sea wave, splashing drops of a river on your skin, the cleansing rain or a refreshing glass of the liquid of life, a cup of the simple hot beverage. Everything seems less dramatically unbearable thanks to its subtle power. Or sometimes, just watching H2O in one of its forms does it, despise the annoying big flies all around you.
I saw this girl on her inspirational quest every day on my way out of the hostel and into the streets of Barrio Bellavista, Santiago de Chile, exploring as she seems to…
I saw this girl on her inspirational quest every day on my way out of the hostel and into the streets of Barrio Bellavista, Santiago de Chile, exploring as she seems to, wondering where life would take me. The beauty and the solitude of it, but most of all, the worth of trying, tasting that life isn’t just stationary or given. It can be an adventure you have to be willing to take.
I keep coming back to Valparaiso in these challenge-inspired posts and now, it is becoming clear why. It is the city where I had most fun, for sure.
I keep coming back to Valparaiso in these challenge-inspired posts and now, it is becoming clear why. It is the city where I had most fun, for sure. Good, not just decent coffee (finally!), yummy empanadas in various flavours, smoothing ice-cream during hill climbs, bumpy rides with a local bus and shaky funiculars, walk after a walk after a walk, great company, late night outings tasting pisco sours, the seaside sun, the atmosphere, the culture and last but not least all the art. Fun finds its place everywhere here, yes, but most of all on walls.
My hostel’s door and the wall on the opposite side:
A wall making fun of the neighbouring capital Santiago’s lifestyle or simply, the morning commute:
There are certain first cups of coffee you never forget.
There are certain first cups of coffee you never forget. My second day in San Pedro de Atacama, second trip starting at the Red Stones, but first breakfast in the area, after an early morning rise and road trip, climbing the altitude numbers and then stopping here amidst the cold wind.
Bread with avocados, cookies, instant coffee and the view.
Charming isn’t the word I would ever use for this city, a hauntingly stretched metropolis if you view it and its ever spreading horizons from Cerro San Cristóbal. But then there is a certain feel of delight in the streets of my favourite quarters…
Charming isn’t the word I would ever use for this city, a hauntingly stretched metropolis if you view it and its ever spreading horizons from Cerro San Cristóbal. But then there is a certain feel of delight in the streets of my favourite quarters, from Bellavista, Patronato, Barrio Brasil and even those of the out-of-place Barrio Paris-Londres.
I chased it among the modest pretty houses and their enthralling paintings, the richness of a particular museum, called las calles, in the organized chaos of central markets, its delicious fruit or smell of fish, the fried, greasy, sweet or cheesy comfort street food, the fruit salads and freshly pressed juices or cold mote con huesillo. And then in the confidence and body positivity of Chilean women, the abundance of tattoos and a light rebel spirit you feel in this nation. In a desperate search for decent coffee, in the leafy shadows of the cemetery where you chill like locals seem to, in the parks where the screams promoting ice-cream are omnipresent, … but certainly not on the main plaza or the cathedral or the government palace or the busy, but boring center avenidas. You can hardly breathe there when the traffic and the heat join forces.
In the end, of course, it is there I finally found it for real, right next to the crowded avenue and packed shops … on the Cerro Santa Lucia. Where the air gets lighter among the trees and the flowers, the city even somehow appealing in all its stripped-down display. It is the place to get away, read a few pages, relax in the sun and re-find your joy. Then go right back to the bohemian laid-back-ness of Bellavista and re-find some glorious street art, too. Because you already know these are the two places you’ll miss when you leave this city after a week or so.
One of the best journeys I’ve ever had closing with yet another breathtaking panorama.
I was getting ready to leave Chile in only a couple of days and this trip was one of my last adventures of the actual last week. One of the best journeys I’ve ever had closing with yet another breathtaking panorama. In my thoughts I was already saying goodbye, imagining myself on the then cold streets of Paris and in warm hugs of beloved friends. Still, on this volcano top, Osorno, first of my life, I was acutely present, feeling an overwhelming gratitude and joy, against the cold wind in my messy hair. Travel is a privilege. Breathe it in while it lasts. Embrace the views and the lonely walks on dusty and rocky paths. Appreciate those moments when everything you need is simply clear and there and it seems that everything that may come next is just another wonderful contribution to the already magnificent picture.
When a tour guide says ”This isn’t on the list of things to show you, but I find it special enough”, what else is there to say?
When a tour guide says ”This isn’t on the list of things to show you, but I find it special enough”, what else is there to say? You follow and then you just look up and see the beauty of it yourself. (For WPC.)
Today is my favourite day of the whole year, especially because I get to experience it in Paris for the second time in a row. The day of the music.
Today is my favourite day of the whole year, especially because I get to experience it in Paris for the second time in a row. In the city (occasionally) buzzing crazy with creativity and joyfulness, even after one of its hardest years in the past decade and also during the people’s current awakening.
The day of the music.
So, I decided to share a little melodies and rhythms that I could guess you don’t already know. Before of course, I hit the streets in the search of the next obsession in the form of a street band or a momentary improvisation just around the corner, or a passing dance maybe, walking with my hips waving and shaking, following the drums heard from somewhere below… Yes, music will be everywhere today, so we can make sure that if ”the day the music died” comes in its literal meaning, it will be reborn again, on this date and in this city. Or whatever. Let’s just hum, sign, clap and groove for now.
You could probably guess that my favourite moments are those when I make my greatest musical discoveries. I had one of those beauties late one evening in January, lying on my hostel bed in Santiago with my headphones on, after a Tour for Tips (I sincerely recommend them) around the city’s flavoursome Patronato markets where the guide had been telling me about the Chilean music scene and his own band, called Captain Frisco.
I decided to give them a listen, just because he seemed like a cool guy and the band name was even cooler, and honestly : it was a really really good choice. The chill mood and the psychedelic sound, that’s all I need! I listened to their EP a couple of times after I came back from Chile, but then I totally forgot about them. I probably jumped to the next new shiny candy…It seems appropriate to recall them today.
In the spirit of remembering all the other sounds I came back with from South America and the ancient advice to always keep my ears open when I travel … or explore the everyday streets for that matter.
”This is what happens when you travel.” ”No,” he said. ”This is what happens when you open up.” I didn’t answer, because what he said was so right it stood strongly on its own. I needed to come all wrecked to this desert, to this magic little place in the middle of South America to see the stars in all their clarity for the first time in my life. And in their shining tirelessly and obliviously to our attention, I heard a conclusion to a certain story. Atacama, this is for your gifts.
I was merciless to Santiago during my first week in Chile, finding a few places I adored and feeling a strong apathy towards everything else. I came wounded and the city buzz and violent chaos couldn’t cure my fragile weakness and mental emptiness. Not this time. Markets, street art and a certain hill attempted bravely to do their thing, but their powers faded after a couple of concentrated moments. And then came the Monday I happily left it, but feeling the knot of anxiety growing inside of me all along the 24-hour ride to San Pedro, I thought to myself I was getting into something I was even less ready for. I do not have the energy for dealing with all the unavoidable tourism agencies, I’m a self-organized solo-traveler, please no. When I think I almost canceled it and went straight to Valparaiso, I can only be grateful for my occasional stubbornness.
Santiago, I liked you. But it is Valparaiso who stole a couple of pieces of my heart, when Atacama already got my soul. Here, I kept thinking how all the rich leaving the town a hundred years ago made a huge favor to its streets and atmosphere. Colourful houses and lovely hills, sea, tags, graffiti, murals, energy and art everywhere, and reality? In any case, the lack of empty luxury. When it fell, the city didn’t die, things only moved from one axis to the other, left some space. Left people some space. The town breathes and lives. And one just loves the light walks, despite the tiring stairs. And one instantly feels good and comfortable here, despite all the warnings of its notoriety.