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South America

Tops and Flops of 1000 Days of Travel: Days 901-1000

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We reflected on 1000 days of travel yesterday, and today we’re looking back at the best and the worst moments of the last 100 days in Costa Rica, Argentina and Chile (including food!) and we give travel recommendations for Buenos Aires and Santiago for your next visit to these South American capitals.

Top travel moments

Spending our 1,000th day at a rooftop pool party in Santiago

We had plenty of moments in the last 100 days we could add, but there was something so perfect about watching the sunset on the top of GEN hotel, where everyone from the Dakar rally are now staying. We met locals and fellow foreigners, drank champagne and had an exquisite evening.

Santiago sunset rooftop

Assimilating to life in Buenos Aires

It was hard to choose just one moment, but as you can see from our post 33 Things We Love about Buenos Aires we jumped right into life in the city. We made a lot of friends, toured the sights, explored neighborhoods, ate at loads of different restaurants and soaked up as much of the unique culture as possible.

Favorite places

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It’s been a long time since we felt so strongly about a place, so it should come as no surprise that, even if we visited 20 cities in the last 100 days, Buenos Aires would still sit comfortably right on top.

buenos aires argentinaArenal, Costa Rica

In between our housesit in Costa Rica and our flight to Buenos Aires, we fit in a nice holiday in the La Fortuna area of Costa Rica, also known as Arenal after the looming volcano seen from just about everywhere in town. With the exception of an extended stay on the Osa Peninsula, we thought we knew Costa Rica backwards and forwards, but it turns out we absolutely loved the entire area here, with its massive waterfalls, great hiking in the national park, laid-back mountain vibe, and of course, our splurge at the Tabacon hot springs.

Most disappointing place(s)

Nosara, Costa Rica

Ah, well, you can’t love everywhere, and Nosara Beach just doesn’t quite do it for us. This is a surfer’s paradise, with consistent left-breaking waves, but for relaxation the beaches here leave much to be desired. It was also low season while we were here, so many of the restaurants were closed, but this is also one of those spots where the presence of gringo expats (we lived in what is honestly called the ‘American Sector’) has driven up prices so that value for money is hard to come by here. That said, we still had an amazing time here, enjoyed some of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen, long walks on the beach with our dog, and last but not least our own infinity pool.

nosara costa rica

Worst travel moments

The Toxic Cloud

That’s right. Completely unbeknownst to us, a fire in the port of Buenos Aires released toxic pesticides into the air for over two hours one morning and because we did not watch the news, I sat with the window open, working away in the living room, curious about the putrid smell but focused on editing the final draft of Break Free. The result – some pretty hefty skin irritation that looked and itched like chicken pox and lasted for three weeks.

Top travel mishaps

No travel mishaps in the last 100 days! Let’s see if we can make it through another 100 days without any mishaps.

Top food moments

Pizza in Buenos Aires

The pizzas in Buenos Aires are not only our top food moment of the last 100 days, but one of the last 1000 days!

pizzas in buenos aires

Travel recommendations

Take a free walking tour

If you are subscribed to our newsletter, you already know that we have become big fans of free walking tours recently. Although the tours are free, the guides work for tips, which makes them eager to impress you with expansive knowledge and enthusiastic conversation. We usually avoid big tour groups, but in Buenos Aires we decided to explore our neighborhood with BA Free Tours, and even though we had seen many of the places already, it was well worth it to learn such in-depth details of Argentinian culture and the story behind places in the ‘hood. We even went on a second tour of the main sights through BA Free Tours as well.

Here in Santiago, we opted for a tour of two neighborhoods that are further away from the tourist trail, Barrio Yungay and Barrio Brazil, and we got to know places we would have never found on our own, including the incredible Peluqueria Francesa, an old-fashioned barber shop with a French restaurant next door.

Peluqeria Francesa SantiagoWe were excited to discover that there are great free tours now worldwide: For Europe and beyond, check out Sandeman’s in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Prague, Paris, Madrid, Jerusalem, Copenhagen and soon Brussels and Tel Aviv. Free Tours by Foot offers free walking tours in New York, Boston, New Orleans, Charleston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., but there are other independent companies in most cities. 

If you enjoyed this, check out our previous Tops and Flops:

Our Tops and Flops of 900 days of travel: Mexico and Costa Rica
Our Tops and Flops of 800 days of travel: Cambodia, Singapore, India, USA and Mexico
Our Tops and Flops of 700 days of travel: Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia
Our Tops and Flops of 600 days of travel: United States, Thailand, Laos
Our Tops and Flops of 500 days of travel: Portugal, Canada, USA
Our Tops and Flops of 400 days of travel: Panama, Germany, Italy, Spain
Our Tops and Flops of 300 days of travel: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica
Our Tops and Flops of 200 days of travel: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador
Our Tops and Flops of 100 days of travel: Las Vegas, California, Arizona, Mexico

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Polaroid of the week: An outdoor gym in Santiago de Chile

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polaroid of the week chile santiago outdoor gym
In our 33 Things We Love about Buenos Aires post, we remark on how active the people are in the Argentine capital, but just a few days here in Santiago reveal that this city is workout-crazy! With the snow caps of the Andes setting the backdrop to the city, many Santiago residents enjoy skiing and hiking, but every day throughout the city people are working out everywhere we look. The layout of the city seems like it was created wit joggers in mind, with bike paths and running trails in parks as well as in the green center of every major thoroughfare in the center. Every morning and every night when we take our dogs out, cyclists and runners buzz past us en masse, and they are almost always completely kitted out in all the gear, from amazing bikes to matching customized running shoes and shirts. On Sunday mornings there is a running group so large, Jess thought there was some sort of marathon passing by our house.

Countless outdoor gyms dot these trails and parks, especially the 8km stretch connecting downtown Santiago with the foothills of the mountains in Bicentennial Park, near where we are living. We have seen outdoor gyms like this everywhere – in Asia, North America, Europe, Mexico – but the Santiaguinos (as the people of Santiago are called) really, really use them. The ‘ outdoor gyms’ were actually introduced as part of the Elige Vivir Sano (Choose to Live Healthily) program, a government initiative promoting healthy living headed by Chile’s first lady Cecila Morel. A recent study concluded the program inspired 500,000 Chileans to start exercising three times a week, but honestly, here in the capital alone it feels like more. Although I don’t have on any fancy gear in this picture, we spent time using an outdoor gym the other day, as we both love how Santiago’s active vibe matches our own enhanced fitness regime in recent months!

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Polaroid of the week: Street Art in Santiago de Chile

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polaroid of the week chile santiago street artAfter being blown away by the street art in Buenos Aires, we were not sure what the scene would be like here in Santiago. Would this capital city match the Argentine capital? When it comes to street art in Chile, we had only heard about the street art in Valparaiso, a smaller city on the coast. We are definitely in luck here, having come across a sprawling scene with incredible graffiti every time we explore a new neighborhood.

From what we have seen so far, Bellavista is bursting with the most colorful streets, but we discovered the piece above was in the Brazil neighborhood. The piece shows an indigenous woman with her baby – while Santiago is one of the most modern cities we have been to, there are still several strong indigenous groups in Chile, mainly the Aymara, Quechua and Mapuche people. We can’t wait to find out more about all of them as we travel through Chile in the coming months.

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