The Ultimate 3 Day Guide to San Pedro de Atacama

Hello everyone! I’ve been offline for a short while. Sometimes it’s important to take a break from being online, and actually getting out to explore. So that’s exactly what I’ve done, and I now have new, exciting experiences to share with you all!

A couple of weeks ago, my parents visited Chile (miss you guys already!) and we headed up to San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world, and famous worldwide for its moon-like appearance. I was almost at a point of worry before travelling here, because I had heard so many great things that I didn’t want to be disappointed. But once I arrived, I didn’t want to leave. Here’s how to explore San Pedro de Atacama and hit all the main spots in just a long weekend.

 

 

Saturday: Getting our bearings and astronomy tour 

 

We booked a flight from Santiago through LATAM Airlines and hopped on a two hour flight to Calama. Arriving in Calama, we booked a round trip bus to San Pedro, the main town of the Atacama desert, around one hour away. On arrival, we checked in to our apartment that a local woman was subletting around the back of her home, and began the search around town for the best tour company and itinerary for the weekend.

Note: Entering San Pedro may be a shock of your senses and you will likely get side tracked with all of the cute dogs, ancient architecture,  delicious and fancy looking restaurants, and above all – the natural alpaca wool sweaters that are the trademark souvenir of visiting here.

 

 

saturn-photo-atacama
Saturn through a telescope at SPACE

We had pre-booked a tour with SPACE: San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (I advise this as it fills up quickly), and in the evening we met in town to hop on a bus for the tour. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip and definitely set us up for a good weekend. We learned all about the night sky, I took a photo of Saturn through one of the amazingly powerful telescopes (one of the most powerful telescopes with public access in the world – see photo below) and ended the night asking all of our nerdy questions over hot chocolate. Definitely recommend.

 

 

Sunday: Half day tour to Valle de la Luna with Flamingo Tours

What to bring: water, sunscreen, warm clothing layer, a hat and good walking shoes (some small crevices and caves to explore).

Starting at 3pm, we met at the Flamingo office on the main street and hopped into the bus on our way to Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley. On arrival we explored crevices and caves around the entrance to the park which had beautiful salt formations all around.  From there, we visited the Three Marias, three vertical rocks representing three women (photo below). We also visited the Amphitheatre and completed another mini hike before watching the sunset and heading back to town.

Everyone at the Three Marias
Our hike overlooking the amphitheatre and volcanoes.

 

Stopping for a stretch between mini hikes around the Valle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday: Full day tour to Piedras Rojas

 

This is the ultimate tour we found. Leaving at 7am and returning at 6pm, this is the ultimate tour to see amazing spots in San Pedro de Atacama. We were picked up by the bus around 7:30am and made our way to our first stop, a small historical town named. This town has a beautiful church and bell tower with a door made from a now protected species of cactus native to the area. We also stopped to meet the town’s resident llama who stole the show.

We then hopped back on the bus and arrived at Los Flamencos National Reserve. I had never seen flamingos in the wild before, and we were told it was nearing the end of the season (start of May, going into winter) and that we may see maximum 10 flamingos. We were very pleasantly surprised by the turnout of over 50!

Following this, we arrived at Piedras Rojas and explored the area, and saw a lot of wildlife including Suri which are related to an ostrich, vicuña, and a desert fox. Following this, we ended our trip at Laguna Miscanti and Miniques at an elevation of 4,300 metres (photos below)! On Tuesday we hopped on a flight back to Santiago and my (current) real world life – and work.

 

Piedras Rojas
On the way to Laguna Miscanti.

 

Laguna Miscanti

 

 

 

Have you ever been to The Atacama Desert or planning to go? Let me know below and I can help with even more suggestions.

 

 

x – Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

My Spotify Playlist: Yoga Groovin’

 

I have a long background of dance and love to incorporate that into my yoga practice, flowing and connecting poses together, some hip sways here and there. This is the music I dance/yoga/boogie to whenever I need to relax, release, or just get my groove on for a few minutes. What are you favourite yoga, meditation or workout tracks? Here is my ultimate spotify playlist for getting your yoga groove on.

Namaste.

Click here & Happy Groovin’ !

yoga asana in melbourne australia
Stretching it out in my tiny Melbourne studio flat.

 

Setlist:

  1.  Daughter – Youth
  2.  Chet Faker – No Diggity
  3.  Flume & Chet Faker – Drop the Game
  4.  Matt Corby – Oh Oh Oh
  5.  Coldplay – Magic
  6.  Doe Paoro – Wind
  7.  Snatam Kaur – Ong Namo

 

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Coconut Oil: My Budget Travel Secret

Coconut oil is a natural, budget travel lifesaver. Cheap, natural, and multi purpose. When I’m travelling, it’s important to maximise luggage space, and ladies, we all know how our personal products can take up all the space, and empty out our wallet after a trip to Sephora. It’s my solution for natural, sensitive skin approved, cheap (!) product with multiple uses. Here’s why I can’t travel without coconut oil.

coconut oil

Makeup Remover

If you’re spending anything over a couple of dollars on makeup remover (I’m looking at you, Lancome), that’s unnatural, and likely irritates or dries out your skin and eyes, here’s your answer. I always use coconut oil every night to take off my mascara, and it works like a charm- even for the waterproof brands – without irritating my eyes. Simply put some coconut oil in your palm, rub your hands together to melt or apply directly to the eyelid and gently rub around your eyes. In seconds, the makeup’s gone! Swipe with a damp washcloth and you’re fresh faced. Easy.

ocean bali

 

Bright Whites

Ever heard of oil-pulling? I was confused at first. I mean, how could OIL make my teeth and mouth healthier? But once I started, I began to notice a difference in the way my mouth feels, another level of clean and healthy, and I also began to feel more energized. Just take a spoonful of coconut oil (you can mix in peppermint oil to get that minty taste if you like), and swish for 5, building up to 20 minutes. After doing some reading on ayurveda, I became interested in how many toxins tend to build in our mouths overnight (morning breath – yuck!), and by tongue-scraping and oil pulling, we can get all those toxins out of our bodies effectively & easily.

 

Leave-in-conditioner

I’m currently living in South America, and the weather is the exact opposite of my home in Canada. Dry, no humidity, and always hot! My hair isn’t too happy. Once a week, before bed I massage a big dollop of coconut oil into my hair, focusing on the ends, and wrap it up in a bun on the top of my head. When I awake, I unravel my hair and shampoo and condition as normal, and my hair is back to it’s shiny, bouncy self. Sometimes I like to mix in a couple drops of essential oils into the coconut oil before massaging, such as frankincense for added benefits or even just grapefruit oil so my hair also smells delicious.

Goodbye Sunburn 

I’m a redhead (the blog name says it all), which means I’ve also inherited very sensitive skin – especially to the sun. Although I put all my effort into applying SPF 50 and more constantly, sometimes the sun is too much for me, and I end up with a nasty sunburn. My secret (I’ve had lots of practice to perfect this), is to rub apple cider vinegar on my sunburn (feels amazing), rinse it off with cold water on a wash cloth, and apply coconut oil generously. It sounds strange, I may smell a bit funky, but when I wake up the next day, my skin feels moisturised and looks way better than it did the day before.

 

Pedicure Au-Natural

I’m one of those girls who has a pedicure as a treat maybe once a year (every 6 months when I’m feeling extra fancy), which means my feet need some at home TLC. Coconut oil is so light but moisturising that I sometimes massage my feet with oil in the morning and it keeps my feet moisturised during the day. Sometimes, in dire situations, I’ll lather on some and put cotton socks over my moisturised feet for a lazy morning or overnight, and the next day they’re ready for the beach.

 

These are just a few reasons why I can’t travel without coconut oil. What are yours?

 

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

24 Thoughts of a Canadian in Santiago, Chile

 

These thoughts go through my head at least once every few days as a Canadian expat living in Santiago de Chile. Can you relate?

 

  1. So. Much. Salt.
  2. I need to stop eating all the delicious bread. OK just one more.
  3. Remind me why I can’t pet OR bring home a stray dog again?
  4. I HEARD ENGLISH. Who said that?!
  5. Cheapest best wine EVER. 3$ for a bottle of carmenere? I feel like I’m stealing.
  6. How can I bring back the most alfajores and capri bars back into Canada?
  7. Am I a gringa or not? Do I want to be a gringa or not?
  8. English is so lame.
  9. I can finally full-out dance to reggaeton songs without (as much) judgement
  10. EARTHQUAKE!!! Oh right, a 6.4 is just a “temblor”…
  11. Manjar is a delicious, dangerous thing.
  12. Pisco means trouble. And a massive “caña” tomorrow.
  13. No, I am NOT from the U.S. and yes, Canada is very different.
  14. Quick, think of the few traditional Canadian songs and foods before someone compares my culture to Chile.
  15. Wait. You guys eat horse?
  16. This is way too late for me. I value my sleep.
  17. Fresh squeeze $2 orange juice in el centro is HEAVEN.
  18. I thought I was just learning Spanish but apparently I speak Chilena now too.
  19. The Mapocho River is not a river.
  20. So many allergies. This is my life now.
  21. Avocados are SO CHEAP. I eat them daily. I love my life.
  22. Bilz and Pap is un-drinkable.
  23. I want to wear wedges like all the Chilenas but I’m already a giant here. Dilemma.
  24. If I hear one more thing about Justin Bieber…

What other thoughts have you had while in Santiago or throughout Chile? I hope you had a laugh at some of these, fellow expats! 

 

Want to know more about Chile? Here are some Chilean Etiquette Tips

Here is my experience with Culture Shock in Chile

Check out some of my photos throughout Chile on my Instagram Page and Twitter

 

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

Travel Yoga: How to Strengthen your Practice Abroad

Exercising abroad is a difficult task. Your routine is bound to change from your schedule at home in all ways, and especially with exercise! Through travel we tend to replace gym memberships with more outdoor activities like hiking mountains or strolling through the city streets, sometimes it’s nice to still keep a small routine exercise to keep us feeling our best, mentally and physically, while abroad. This is how I have continued my practice abroad, and at sometimes re-ignited my practice when I’ve fallen out of routine, through these travel yoga secrets.

 

I had a difficult time at first trying to keep up with my practice. Going from a membership to a studio close to my house and taking a class before work almost every morning, I knew my practice would change once I was abroad. Little did I know just how much it would change. After incorporating each of these tips I have below, my practice became much more steady, and all of the wonderful benefits I had experienced at home came rushing back – from a strong mind to even stronger legs. Here’s what you can do to continue exercising while abroad, because we all know we aren’t just here for the savasana.

 

travel yoga in melbourne outside

 

Remember your Mat

Bring your mat with you! I use “The Mat 5mm” by lululemon which provides the perfect amount of comfort and support for my practice, and “The Reversible Mat 3mm” for travel is a great lightweight option as well for travellers always on the go. I always hop on the plane with my carry on crossbody bag of essentials (see what’s in it here!) and my travel yoga mat bag slung over my shoulder destined for the overhead bin. In any exercise, especially yoga, it is crucial to practice on a good quality mat to avoid injury and enhance your practice. I’ve tried multiple yoga mats and this is the one, guys. I can do a sweaty one hour hot yoga practice and don’t even need a towel with this mat. Absolute Essential.

travel yoga mat
Photo copyright: lululemon athletica. The Mat 5mm.

 

Roll out of bed & into your practice

Even better, leave your mat rolled out beside your bed waiting for you. I love rolling out of bed and before I can think of anything else, I’m on my mat, stretching and breathing out all of my kinks.That way, you have no excuse that you’re tired or have no time. Set your alarm even a few minutes earlier than your usual wake up call, and get your body moving! Even 5 minutes of just sitting and breathing alone is a total game changer for my entire day. Plus, add in a little yoga workout and stretch and you’re done your workout before you even have breakfast. Total travel yoga win.

 

Find your crew

Wherever you are in the world, try to find a group of like-minded or like-exercising people in your local area. Free park yoga is exploding everywhere and it’s amazing! Check local facebook groups, your hostel or hotel, and ask at community centres to find free or by-donation activities. Plus, a group of fellow travelling yogis will help you to stay on track if you make set times and days to practice together.

Beautiful sculpture artwork near Penang, Malaysia.

 

Do yoga with me (THE BOMB) . com  ( doyogawithme.com )

Best yogs website ever – in my opinion. Sign up for free to access multiple classes right from your device. Choose your level and style of class from kundalini to pre-natal yoga, and get practicing. I recommend this class (intermediate level- choose what’s appropriate for you), which I’ve been following to help re-ignite my practice and I promise your muscles will feel this one! I used to take classes with Fiji in Victoria, Canada and learned so much. So imagine how happy I am to be able to continue her classes when I’m all the way over in Chile!

 

Grab those Studio Intro Deals

And if where you are does have a yoga presence- Get those intro deals girl! During my entire time living in Australia (1.5 years), I think I paid in full for a drop in class maybe once. Many studios have intro passes for your first week or two if you’ve never visited the studio before. As yoga is such a trend these days, yoga classes in Melbourne were averaging $25 or more for a one hour class, whereas by hopping between studios in Melbourne city and surrounding suburbs, I would purchase a two-week unlimited pass, taking up to 10 classes in that time, for $19 in some places. Other studios even had a FREE pass for your first week, no obligations following. In addition, keep your eye out for special events like studio openings, studio anniversaries and International Yoga Day – free classes are everywhere just waiting for you – and for cheap. Travel yoga just got way easier. No excuses there!

travel yoga asana in melbourne australia
Stretching it out in my tiny Melbourne studio flat.

 

There are all my travel yoga secrets! So many options to be able to get moving no matter what excuse is holding me back. Of course finding other ways to keep moving such as hiking, exploring a new city or town, or going for a bike ride are also great ways to see the country you’re in and stay active while doing so! I hope these inspire you to roll out your mat or attend that yoga class in a foreign language, and let me know how it goes!

 

How do you get moving when you’re abroad? Have you noticed a change in your fitness routine when you’re travelling vs at home? Let me know below!

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Budget Travel: 5 Cheap Eats in Melbourne, Australia

I’m going to get straight to the point because if you’re reading this, you’re likely in Melbourne and hungry! Or just hungry.

I lived in Melbourne for 1.5 years and found out very quickly that it is a beautiful – and expensive – city. But even while living and travelling on a budget we have to treat ourselves once in a while, right?! So I’ve put together this list of my top 5 Cheap Eats in Melbourne, Australia that are sure to leave both your belly and wallet satisfied.
Disclaimer: I have personally tried all of the places I am about to recommend and am in no way affiliated with any of them- just love what they offer. I hope you enjoy them too, while saving a bit of cash at the same time.

 

Happy eating!

 

Grab Dumplings in Chinatown

 

In the heart of the City is Melbourne’s Chinatown, literally filled to the brim with delicious restaurants at every turn. Shanghai Dumpling House and Shanghai Village are my favourites. Shanghai Dumpling House is the ultimate cheap, good food experience. The ambience is definitely casual, and its cash only. At $8 including tax for 20 steamed or friend dumplings of many kinds to choose from, you can eat well for super cheap and BYOB for a couple of dollars’ fee if you wish. This is the ultimate go-to as a couple or group- it’s our go-to before going out dancing or after a movie. Shanghai Village is a bit of a more nice environment but still has super cheap options as well.
Check out Shanghai Village Facebook page here .

 

Pay as you Feel at Lentil as Anything

 

Lentil as anything has a pay as you feel philosophy wherecustomers order delicious meals and donate whatever they can afford. The meals are hard to choose between (my favourite has to be the veggie burger or japanese pancake though), and there are guides posted in the restaurant to show you where your donation will go and how it will help the restaurant. All waiters, chefs etc are volunteering their time, and Lentils is run on an honour based system. They are solely run on the generosity of the public and all staff are volunteers so please donate generously if you can! Check them out and their locations here .

 

Sushi in the City

 

Sushi-to-go is the ultimate grab and go snack in Melbourne. The sushi is served still as a full roll and not cut into pieces. I’m not sure if an official name for this exists, but I’ve just started saying “sushi log” (you heard it here first, guys!), and each log is around $2 depending on where you go. My favourites are all along Swanston street between QV mall and Flinders Street Station. Grab a few of these and bring them to a park or eat in for a quick, fresh, super cheap lunch. I love grabbing a few to go for a mini picnic along the Yarra River.

 

Snack your way around Queen Victoria Market

 

I used to live quite close to Queen Victoria Market. This is the ultimate stop for cheaper veggies, fruits, legumes, fish andmore. After doing our bi-weekly vegetable stock-up, we get hungry! Take a wander around the market where you can find juicy, delicious and cheap local Australian fruits, cafes, and restaurants with delicious, affordable homemade snacks of all varieties. During all seasons they also often have events such as food and craft night markets, free outdoor yoga, and specialty food-truck days. Sample your heart out.

 

Try a Yoga and Dinner Combo at Urban Yoga

 

Urban Yoga is the best deal I have come across in Melbourne in any category- hands down. I found Urban Yoga through Classpass, and one evening I wandered over to the studio where we had a relaxing one hour yin yoga class  followed by a delicious, warm, vegetarian dinner on the floor below. How much, you ask? $17! Or $14 if you’re a student. I was SO excited you guys. Hear me out- yoga in Melbourne, like most cities, is crazy expensive. The majority of yoga studios charge upwards of $25 for a single hour yoga class, and definitely no dinner included. So imagine how happy I was to discover this. My go to for a relaxing, healthy evening.

 

**Side note: Classpass (link)  as I previously mentioned is an app where you pay a monthly fee to access multiple fitness studios around Melbourne (it’s in other cities and countries too). It’s great because instead of locking yourself in to one studio, you can try many. They have a great intro pass option too – try it out if you’re into yoga & fitness at a reasonable price.

http://www.urbanyoga.com.au/yoga-sessions/

 

Talk about cheap eats! I hope you found some foodie inspiration from this list. It’s definitely possible to find meals in Melbourne that are affordable and delicious at the same time!

Have you been to Melbourne? What’s your favourite place to eat?

 

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

How I Survived Christmas Abroad

Have you ever experienced the holiday season away from your family and closest friends? Perhaps in a foreign country as well? The Christmas and New Years holidays are the most important time of year, when family gathers and shares over feasts, gifts, and maybe one too many rum and eggnogs. It’s also a time where we may be halfway across the world, and are just trying to have the best Christmas, knowing we are far from home. I have spent the last two holiday seasons away from my home country and family, and this post is all about how i survived Christmas abroad (and more!), and you can too!

Surround yourself with people in the same situation as you.

If you’re abroad during the holidays, there’s bound to be someone nearby in the exact same situation as you. Find fellow backpackers in your hostel, families of local friends, anyone that you want to share the holiday cheer with! A great idea is organizing an easy and fun Secret Santa gift exchange with a group of people at a small price range, make a get together to share appetizers or desserts or to watch a holiday movie together! This can help everyone have a wonderful morning filled with surprises and treats with those who are sure to soon be close friends.

Embrace new traditions.

The key to surviving the holiday season away from family and in a new environment is to immediately understand that it will be different. You’re in a new country, with a different culture and set of traditions. So let go a little bit of the traditions you have at home (keep a few!) and welcome the new traditions that come your way. It will spark the Christmas excitement again!

For example, I have just spent Christmas 2016 in Chile, where everyone waits on Christmas Eve until midnight and then opens gifts and meets family until the early hours of the morning. In Canada where I’m from, we have dinner, family conversation by the fire and then fall fast asleep only to wake up early the next morning for gifts and a large breakfast.

Viejito Pascuero (Santa Claus) en Chile

Call or Skype your loved ones.

Yes, technology seems to be taking over to a certain degree. And we should leave our cell phones and other devices to the side during the holidays to fully be present and connect with those around us ( really we should do this for the most part always!). One time where your phone will definitely come in handy this year is to call or skype your loved ones at home.

I recently skyped with my family and they showed me around the house, our decorated tree, the snow outside, and them! Although it made me miss my family even more of course, I was able to imagine I was right there with them. Thank gosh for technology with loved ones far away!

You’re doing it!

After experiencing Christmas abroad, the verdict for me is, of course, nothing is better than home. Family is the most important at this time of year, right? But at the same time, what I do enjoy about the holidays abroad with new people I meet in my travels is it opens my mind to other cultures, I learn and practice new traditions, and it makes it that much sweeter when I will finally have Christmas at home again. Travelling at Christmas has also really put into perspective the amount of material items we give and consume during the holiday season. While travelling and keeping in mind those I am usually giving gifts to are travelling as well, it helps you to think much more about what you are purchasing, and how it can be useful to that person, making gift giving that much more satisfying!

Happy holidays to you, wherever you are in the world!

Where is your favourite place to spend the holidays? Do you have any holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments! Please subscribe if you’d like to see more posts like this.

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

The Versatile Blogger Award Nomination

I am very excited to have been nominated for my first award in the blogging world, The Versatile Blogger Award. And by the epic pair of The Travelators no less! Thanks so much Katherine and Tom. Check out these two extensive aussie travellers who are experts at travelling while juggling careers at home through career breaks. Love browsing through your articles and photos, guys!

What is the Versatile Blogger Award about?

The Versatile Blogger Award is given by bloggers to more bloggers who display uniqueness and love for what they do through quality writing on throughout their blog. This helps encourgae to continue delivering great content, and get fellow blogger’s work out there! Since starting my blogging journey recently, I have already connected with many like-minded people out there sharing their travel experiences with the world, and this is another amazing way to do so and be a part of. There are some criteria though such as: The quality of the bloggers writing, photograph quality, uniqueness in the subjects covered and a strong level of love shining through their work for what they do!

Here are the rules once you receive The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Be kind and publicly thank who who nominated you, linking to their blog so everyone else can see their great work as well.
  • Choose up to 10 nominees you think are deserving of this award and notify them via social media so they can feel good about themselves too.
  • Share 7 random things about yourself, and ask your nominees to do the same. Learning about others is fun and connects us even more!

Before I share my own list of nominees (!) as promised, here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about me:

1. I moved to a country I’d never visited before (or even the continent!)

I am currently living in Chile, and I had never visited before moving here! While I was working and travelling around Australia last year, I met my now partner, who is Chilean. After both of our visas expired in Australia, and due to a scholarship requirement of my partner, we are now living in Chile! I am loving it so far, so it’s all hands on deck learning spanish and getting accustomed to the latin life!

Empanadas in Santiago

2. My favourite place to travel

I have so many places I have travelled to and fallen in love with, but I’d have to say my favourite place so far is Nusa Lembongan, near Bali in Indonesia. This island is heaven for me. With dive shops and cheap nature-based boat trips around the island for a small cost compared to Canada, my first sight of a TURTLE while scuba diving, the delicious food and endless back roads and hidden areas to find by bike, it’s my dream destination, and tucked a bit further away from the crowds on Bali island.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

3. My best flight ever.

Air Asia! I know, it’s a budget airline, and especially after some complications a few years back I was honestly nervous to fly with them. BUT. I travelled from Bali to Yogyakarta, Indonesia recently. A relatively short flight, and I had a blast! The flight attendant sang the entire time on our tiny plane to songs by Bruno Mars and others, accompanied with an acoustic guitar and everyone was having a great time. That’s what I like to call in-flight entertainment!

4. My favourite food.

I have three. Avocados, Yams and Cinnamon. Yes they are not complete “meals” within themselves (I beg to differ), but they are my top 3. They haven’t changed in years. And living in Chile is really helping my avocado craving – much cheaper here than in Canada or Oz! #sellingpoint.

5. My favourite childhood memory.

I have so many. But I think the one that pops out most to me is being at our cabin (aka a cozy, handbuilt structure by my dad, uncle and grandpa), with my two brothers. We would always create a homemade theatre between the two bunkbeds in the kids bedroom, and hold plays complete with costumes and a dressing room, sit my parents down, and begin the show! I have always loved to dance, act (sometimes), and sing. This was definitely the lift-off point. Plus, back then my brothers and I had much more time to spend together. Now we are scattered around the world studying, working and whatever else. Good moments.

6. My usual day job.

I am a Marine Biologist working in Conservation Science by day! I hold my degree from UVic in Canada and before my extensive travels I worked in commercial fishery observation and in a laboratory for a mark recapture study of salmon for the Canadian government. In Australia, I continued this but more in the direction of teaching, working with an aquarium and various not for profit organizations. Now in Chile, I am slowly but surely breaking the language barrier to be able to do just the same here – the environment and wildlife here is incredible!

7. How I’ve been travelling for so long.

Working Holiday Visas, people! Unless you’re a digital nomad (jealous a bit), or you’re over 35 (sorry!), Working Holiday Visas are my jam. They are available in multiple countries, for one year or more at a time, and you are able to work in the country while supplementing your travels. If you have any questions on how I obtained mine for Australia, New Zealand,or Chile, send me a message!

 

And finally.. the Nominees. Check them out and give them some love!

  • Little Foot Adventures: Since starting to travel in 2012 after moving to England, Amalia’s list of countries is ever-growing. A self-proclaimed culture and history buff, she loves to accompany her stories with beautiful photos of special moments. She’s currently blogging from Copenhagen and is ready to pass on her travel inspiration to you!
  • A Romanian in Russia: Simona left her small hometown of Zimnicea after feeling a need for independence, a beach lover and a lover of reading! Follow her beautifully laid out blog accompanied with stunning photos as she is now working and travelling from Moscow, Russia.
  • Momentum Travels Blog: Maria’s blog isn’t just a blog- it’s a travel diary! Coupled with stunning photography, and 20 countries checked off her list, you should definitely take a browse! She also loves beer, cats, books, and chocolate. I feel like a lot of us could easily relate!
  • Sliva: Sliva is an acronym for Share and LIVe Adventures. This is a group of people who are passionate about all things adventure. Sliva also means plum in Slovene, so they have a plum as their signature icon! Their clean, well-written blog discusses everything from where to camp in Azores to what pedals are best for mountain biking. Check them out!
  • Traveling Katie Bug: From Colorado, Katie is a photo taking, dessert loving wanderluster who loves to share all things travel! She has experienced 18 countries already and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon! Awesome stuff Katie.

 

And that’s everything! Thanks so much again to Katherine and Tom for the nomination and for those I have nominated, please continue to share this award with those who’s work you admire.

-Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

7 FREE must-see Spots: Santiago, Chile

Travelling to Chile? Have a week or a day for some touring? Here are my favourite 7 FREE must-see spots in Santiago de Chile to choose from. Get ready to be cultured in all things Santiago. For free!

1. The view from the top of San Cristóbal Hill (Cerro San Cristóbal)

You know that statue of Jesus in Rio de Janiero, Brazil everyone has photos of? Did you know Chile has it’s very own massive Virgin Mary statue? Yep! And it’s right in downtown Santiago.
This statue and the general top area of Cerro San Cristóbal can be reached by a 45 minute walk/hike up the hill from 3 different entry points. The easiest to find is just to the left of the funicular starting point. Another option is to take the funicular (cable car) to the top, which costs less than $4 USD per person.

Virgin Mary statue on Cerro San Cristóbal

Once you’re at the top, prepare yourself for beautiful views! I suggest reaching the top early in the morning before the crowds arrive, however if you don’t mind the people, at sunset it is stunning, and you have almost a 360 degree view of Santiago below. Definitely a must-see!

 

2. Santa Lucía Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía)

Santa Lucía Hill is right in the heart of the city. You can enter at multiple points around the hill. This is a great spot to do a bit of walking, or even to have a picnic and watch the passersby. Walking towards the tip of the hill you will find long, narrow steps which curve up to a look-out of Santiago and the Andes mountains.

This is an important hill because it is where Santiago was officially founded by Pedro de Valdivia, and Charles Darwin actually has a signed plaque just before the last set of stairs up to the very top look-out, stating it was one of his favourite views ever – I am a biology nerd and Charles Darwin is my hero so this was quite exciting!

Cerro Santa Lucía

Right across the street (across the Alameda), is a large artesanal crafts market where you can browse and find anything from handmade leather boots to classic souvenirs like the Indio Picaro (if you don’t know what that is, you’ll find out!).

 

3. Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes)

This museum is gorgeous. Right when you walk in, the entire building opens up into extremely high ceilings and light beams shining through to the floor. Here you can find replicas of famous statues from around the world and quirky exhibits which seem to be on constant rotation. If you’re into fine arts from around the world, this is your go-to. As a separate note, you must place your larger bags in the lockers provided to the left of the front entrance. No entry fee is required. No photos allowed in certain exhibits.

 

4. Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos)

Entrance is free, you must check in any larger bags at the front desk. This is an absolute must-see to educate yourself about the deep history engraved in Chile. This museum highlights Chile throughout the dictatorship between 1973 and 1990. It is powerful and packed with amazing, many sad, artefacts and details of what occurred during this time period. The building and layout itself is beautiful, and overall it is extremely well done. If you are interested in learning more about Chile and it’s history, do not miss this.

 

5. La Moneda Palace

This is the government palace of Chile. You are usually not able to get very close to the moneda due to guards and barriers, but it is a must to walk by and check out the statues of historical figures among the grass areas in front. Here is the location of the beginning of the dictatorship which rocked Chile from 1973 to 1990. Interesting fact: When the flag at the top of La Moneda also has the coat of arms on it, this means the president is currently inside the Palace.

La Moneda Palace

 

6. Parque Forestal

This beautiful park runs through the centre of Santiago city along the Mapocho River. Strolling through the trees and stopping to see various views is a pleasant, free activity for anyone. It runs alongside the Mapocho River which is a popular reference point. Whenever I am in the city I always try to walk through Parque Forestal instead of through the busy streets, hopefully with a fresh empanada in hand, and immerse myself in the greenery within the busy city of Santiago.

 

7. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral & Plaza de Armas

Coming from a country that is very young (Canada), seeing places like these leave me in awe. Santiago is saturated with beautiful heritage buildings and cathedrals, and one of my favourite cathedrals has to be the Metropolitan in Plaza de Armas. The outside is breathtaking in itself, but once you enter it’s like you’re in a whole new world. Take your time looking at the statues, the ceiling, take a seat and absorb it! It’s breathtaking.

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

**BONUS free must-see: My second favourite cathedral is the Cathedral de los Sacramentinos. Not many know about this cathedral as it is slightly out of the exact center of the city, but when it is open, it is absolutely amazing. Check out a photo I took inside on my instagram .

 

Travelling to Chile? Here are my top 5 must-know etiquette tips for Chile.

Have you travelled to Santiago? What’s your favourite spot to visit (free or not)? I’d love to hear ’em!

Did you like this article? Make sure to subscribe (look to the right) & I’ll send you a note when my next post is up.

-Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

Culture-shocked Gringa: The awkward & awesome culture of Chile

Any new country you travel to is bound to have a few cultural surprises waiting for you to discover. After all, that’s why we travel, isn’t it? To be experience new cultures and learn more about the world? But, as I’m sure you’ve experienced as well, some of these culture shocks are exactly that – a shock!

I have been living and travelling around Chile since this past September, and have definitely encountered a few culture shocks that I would love to share with you! Use this as a prep for your travels to Chile, for a little laugh from an awkward Canadian’s mishaps, or just to take a slightly deeper look into the culture of this beautiful, unique latin country.

Note: These are my personal experiences since living in Chile and of course are not displayed by each individual in Chile, nor does any country have a cultural characteristics that every single person in their population displays. These are my findings and maybe you have experienced them too! Happy reading.

Shock #1: Commenting on your looks

I made this number one because this is the culture-shock that my family found funniest.

In North America, we can be quite self-conscious about our bodies and particularly keep subjects like weight and if someone’s getting fatter/thinner out of our casual conversation. We view asking about someone else’s weight as inconsiderate and private information, especially for those we don’t know so well.

But Chileans tend to be very quick to comment on your weight. It’s normal to greet someone you haven’t seen in a while and mention if they’re fatter or skinnier! And many use the words “gordo” or “flaca” to describe others, whereas in Canada we tend to avoid that at all costs, instead saying hair colour, height, or their friends etc.

In one moment I even weighed myself in front of my partner’s entire family at their request! So now my entire boyfriend’s family knows how much I weigh and ask for updates every so often. So beware, fellow North Americans, don’t be self conscious in Chile!

 

Shock #2: You’re 24… how many kids do you have?

In Chile (and most of Latin America), the smallest unit is a family. Whereas in North America and many western countries, the smallest unit is an individual. For potentially this reason, and also a seeming mixture of absence of sex-ed and other circumstances in Chile, many women tend to have children very “young” by North American standards.

When first meeting my partner’s family, many would ask how old I was. When I said I was 24, the natural next question was, “and how many children do you have?”. I was confused, and I replied with “none! I am way too young to have children right now. I’m living in random countries on work visas and haven’t even thought about kids in the very near future to be honest!”.

However, after speaking with the family and discussing my living situations in more depth and the differences in our cultures, they are now much more understanding.

It seems,  at least for those I know in Chile, many tend to have children quite young by western standards and definitely doing so before marriage seems quite common.

 

Shock #3: Speak Spanish? Speak Chilean? Introducing Chilenismos

No matter if you are a fluent castellano speaker or beginner, once you touch down in Chile, your spanish world will be challenged! Chileans have use many phrases and words unique to their country. Here are a few below. Listen out for them and use them as you please, but remember you will likely not be understood in other spanish-speaking countries! You can find full dictionaries of Chilenismos through a google search.

Weon – meaning too many things to write down. Can mean thing, buddy, mate, and more, depending on how you say it and context. other forms: wea, weona, etc. eg. Hola weon!

Po – this is not necessarily a word in itself, but is added at the end of sentences as a sort of emphasis. It’s like the stereotype that Canadians always say “eh”. eg. Si, po!

¿Cachai? – This is a phrase loosely meaning “catch what I’m saying?” or “you know what I mean?”. It doesn’t require a response, but you can still say “yo cacho”.

Check out more Chilenismos on google!

 

Shock #4: Everyone is flirting with you!

In Chile, it seems that everyone loves to gossip. Everywhere in the world there is always much gossip as well, it’s just human nature to an extent. But in Chile, they even have a verb that is uniquely used in the country, “pelar” meaning “to gossip”.

As an example, I was looking at the map of train stops while riding a train with family members to calculate how long it’d take us to get to our stop. A man beside me asked if I needed help, I said no, thank you. As soon as we exited the train, immediately I was asked about the man and was told that he was “flirting” with me because I’m a gringa.

In Canada, it’s simply seen as being friendly, unless it’s clear flirtation. And we are always quick to say “they were just being nice”. I guess it’s all the telenovelas? They can be quite addicting though.

 

So there they are! These culture shocks are always shocking, for lack of a better word, initially, but I like to see them as funny and quirky characteristics and the necessities of getting to know a new and beautiful country such as Chile.

 

What is the biggest culture-shock you have experienced? Let me know below!

x – Jenn, The Redhead Abroad