Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Apartment’

Thoughts after returning from Chile

February 21st, 2016 No comments

I have been back in the UK for a few weeks now and as well as getting back into things here I have had a chance to process my thoughts and think back to my time in Chile. I generally always find it hard to readjust to being back home after a great trip, in fact this has probably been the case with every trip since China and North Korea in 2010, and Chile is no exception.

Latin America is a region of the world that has always fascinated me since I was young. To start with my main area of interest was Central America, specifically Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and I never had much of an urge to visit South America. However, after my visit to Central America in 2012 this changed as I realised I really like the atmosphere of Latin America. Of course every country has a different culture and identity, as the region is so big, but I started looking further afield and decided that one day I would like to visit either Ecuador or Chile before then exploring more of South America. So when I had the chance to visit my friend Steven in Chile I could not say no, and I am glad I went.

Iberia Sky Map

The route that my flight to Santiago took

Pancracia

Pancracia the cat

This trip was slightly different to previous ones in that I stayed in a friend’s house and a rented apartment instead of hotels, I was visiting a friend instead of travelling on my own or with an overland group, and I went with no real itinerary compared to the fairly detailed plan that I usually have. As a result, my thoughts about this trip were always going to be different, and I was always going to end up liking this trip more, but I definitely really enjoyed my time in Chile. The people, the food, the experiences, the sights, the memories and the atmosphere have made this a trip that I will remember for a long time.

Because I had no real plan we spent a lot of our time just walking around visiting places that Steven thought I should see, without having to be at a set place at a set time, and this meant that we saw lots of things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. This part of the post is mainly for my benefit as I am in the process of creating a printed book with my travel blog for the past 10 years and don’t want to forget anything over time, and also to give me an excuse to post some of the photos from the trip that I have not had a chance to post so far. It may seem a little disjointed compared to the rest of this blog but it’s necessary.

One thing I found out during my visit is how different the labour market, and related areas, are in Chile compared to those that I am used to in The UK. During one of my days in Santiago we were entering a metro station and passed an old lady who was playing a musical instrument and Steven explained that she is a retired teacher who can’t afford to live in the city on her pension and so has to busk on the street to get extra money. Near the Plaza de Armas there was also a big department store which was closed the entire time I was in the city due to a workers strike. Apparently the workers felt that they were not being treated properly so all went on strike, blockaded the store entrances and were making a large amount of noise. It seems that the labour market is a lot more controlled in The UK, in that workers have better protections but conversely there are more regulations about when and how strikes can take places.

I mentioned it briefly in my blog posts about Santiago but every time I travel to Latin America I love how much more they embrace the outdoors compared to how much it is embraced in The UK. Things have improved a lot in The UK in the past 10 years, I think partly due to a change in culture but also partly due to the ban on smoking in indoor public areas which came into force in 2007 meaning more people have to spend time outside, but even in the summer we still don’t spend as much time outside as they do around the world. Santiago makes good use of its outdoor space, with a number of avenues, parks, plazas etc that would probably have been developed and sold off as building opportunities in The UK in addition to restaurants with a lot of outdoor seating.

Baquedano

The area around Baquedano station

Chilean Flag

The National Flag outside La Moneda

Paseo Bulines

Paseo Bulines in Santiago

Obelisk

An obelisk just off Plaza Baquedano

Patio Bellavista

Patio Bellavista in Santiago, just off Pio Nono.

Something that would not have been as apparent if I had stuck to the tourist areas and the centre of the city is the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots”. During my time in Santiago I had a chance to visit one of the affluent areas, Las Condes, and a couple of areas of the city where the average worker lives. The properties in the affluent areas and those in other areas, such as Las Condes, are almost a world apart from each other. There is a divide in The UK, for example council estates vs Kensington, but it seems more noticeable in Chile. However, I enjoyed seeing the “real” Santiago, where the average Chilean lives, and would have hated sticking in the sterile affluent areas of the city for my whole time there as they have no character.

The apartment I stayed in was somewhere in the middle. It was close to the city centre but was small and functional and, as I mentioned earlier in this blog, was all that we really needed. Here are a few photos, which I have not been able to include in the blog so far.

Apartment

The living area of the apartment I rented in Santiago

Apartment

The dining area

Apartment

The bedoom

Apartment

The hallway outside the apartment

Apartment

The small patio area outside

Chile appears to be a country that, while discrimination is still prevalent due to the influence of the Catholic Church and historical prejudices, is progressing forward. For example, there have been homophobic murders, most notably that of Daniel Zamudio, and homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1999, but conversely there is a popular pride parade, a popular drag scene and a bill permitting civil unions was recently passed by the Chilean Parliament. The opinion of the Catholic Church still makes a big difference in Chile, so the country is behind many in the area on civil rights, but it appears that the people want to do something about it. There is crime in the country but I did not personally see any luckily and I overwhelmingly found it to be an open and welcoming part of the world.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Chile when comparing the situation there to the situation in The UK, the above points are just my opinion based on what I saw during my time there and what I have heard by speaking to people that know more than me and it is possible I could be wrong on a number of opinions. My visit has peaked my interest in the country and I definitely want to learn more about it, both after returning to The UK and also by returning in the future. My current plan is to return again on my next trip unless something else comes up, either next year or the year after, and to spend half of the time visiting Santiago and the other half visiting other parts of the country. The scenery in this part of the world is so spectacular and in the future I would love to visit Patagonia, the Atacama Desert, the wine producing regions and Easter Island in addition to other countries in the area. I have no urge to visit Brasil at all at the moment, least of all Rio di Janeiro due to how dangerous it can be, but I want to see more of what South America has to offer.

Before I return I definitely need to improve my level of Spanish so that I don’t have to rely on Steven when I am in the city, and so I can visit other areas of the country with ease. I studied Spanish to GCSE level at school but unfortunately didn’t speak it again for a number of years afterwards. I did some revision in advance of my visit to Central America in 2012, and have been relearning it for the past 9 months now, but I still have a lot of work to do. The only problem is that Chilean Spanish is very different to the Spanish that I have heard, in that they use a lot of slang and also have hard to understand accents. I watched a video that was posted on YouTube by some Christian Missionaries last year which said that most of the people from their mission who visit Chile don’t understand anything for the first month despite being proficient in the language. This is something that I want to work through, however, but it will require a lot of practice.

Overall I would highly recommend Chile to anybody who wants to visit South America. You won’t be disappointed. While I have no plans to move out of the UK at the present time, as this is my home, Chile is definitely a country that I could see myself being ok living in if I was ever offered a work transfer at some time in the future.

To finish, here are some final photos that I want to post on my blog but have so far been unable to use.

Snack time

Stopping for Alfajores and Empanadas in Valparaíso

National Library in Santiago

National Library, Santiago

This is the old Chilean Parliament building

The old Chilean Parliament building

Orgy graffiti

Apparently it’s this way for orgies

Estación Central, Santiago

Estación Central

Chile… I love you and really miss you but I will be back soon!

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Santiago part 1

January 22nd, 2016 No comments

I have been in Santiago for most of a week and I am having a great time. Staying with Steven in a rented apartment in the city has proved useful as we have been close to everything, have been able to keep costs down and I feel that I have been able to see more of the “real” Chile, compared to if I had decided to stay in a hotel.

The apartment itself is not the best compared so some I saw online but it is adequate for my needs. It has a living room with dining table, a small but functional kitchen, a clean bathroom and a bedroom with two single beds. The cost was approximately £190 for the 8 days that I am here which, given its location, I find very reasonable indeed. The only downside is that due to interference from the fire station across the road reception on the TV is very bad. However, my past existence as a radio scanner enthusiast taught me that there is always a workaround available, in this case attaching the external antenna to the clothes airer in order to create a giant antenna. On the other hand, in addition to the location, it has the added benefit of being in a gated compound that has people on the gate so it should be fairly safe.

It looks funny but worked

My creation which helped improve the TV signal

I have spent most of my evenings making home cooked meals and watching Chilean TV / Netflix with Steven. I am learning Spanish at the moment but as I quickly found out upon arriving here Chilean Spanish is very unique, with its frequent and almost exclusive use of slang words, that it is very difficult to understand. Fortunately, many of the programs on TV are from the USA and I have discovered an interesting Judge Judy style show called “Caso Cerrado” which has helped me practice.

Although that is enough about the apartment.

Santiago seems a really nice city. I have spent my days exploring and walking around with no real plan, checking out some of the sights, eating some good food and just generally having a good time.

Cerro Santa Lucía is a good place to visit when you first arrive in Santiago. It’s a hill close to the centre of the city which gives you a good view of the local area. It isn’t as high as Parque Metropolitano, and definitely not as high as the viewing platform of the Costanera Centre, but I enjoyed my time here. Fuente Neptuno and the grounds definitely provided me with some good photo opportunities.

Santiago de Chile

The steps up to Cerro Santa Lucía

Santiago de Chile

The view of the city from Cerro Santa Lucía

Cerro Santa Lucía

Cerro Santa Lucía as seen from the main road.

Parque Metropolitano is another good place to visit if you are looking for a view point in the city. You can either walk up the hill or take an old funicular lift and are presented with some great views. There is a giant statue of the Virgin Mary here as well as a church, and it’s well worth a visit. Just be careful on the steep steps leading up to the statue – I slipped over and hurt my shoulder, much to the amusement of the only American tourists that I saw the entire time I was in the city. If you like the bar scene then head in the direction of Parque Metropolitano anyway as the road leading to it from Plaza Baquedano, called Pio Nono, is full of bars, restaurants and clubs and is very popular with university students from what I am told so should have a good atmosphere in the evening.

Funiculars are fun

Ascending the funicular in Parque Metropolitano

A great view of Santiago de Chile

The view from the very top of the hill at Parque Metropolitano.

Pio Nono

Pio Nono, near Parque Metropolitano

The Costanera Centre provided me with the best views of the city, although being inside a shopping centre it is very sterile and expensive. The Costanera Centre can be seen from all over Santiago, as it is the tallest building in Latin America, and consists of a huge shopping centre combined with offices, a hotel and the viewing platform. The shopping centre contains a few local brands but mainly big international brands and so for me was nothing special. The viewing platform, called the Sky Costanera, can be accessed from the basement and is the highest view point in the city. You are shot up to the top of the skyscraper in elevators really quickly while you are told the history of the building in Spanish by the attendant. The viewing platform has telescopes to allow you to see things in the distance, but other than that I will let the photos do the talking.

Sky Costanera view

A view of Santiago from the Sky Costanera

Me in Santiago de Chile

Me at the Sky Costanera viewing Platform

Costanera Centre

Inside the Costanera Centre

Costanera Centre

The Costanera Centre

Santiago has a really nice atmosphere. In addition to the viewpoints mentioned above we spent the first half of my time here walking around and taking in the famous sights such as La Moneda, which is the Presidential Palace which was infamously bombed by the Chilean Air Force during the military coup which killed President Salvador Allende. More about that coup later on as I am planning to visit the Museum of Human Rights before the end of my visit. Other sights that I have seen so far include Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Iglesia San Francisco, The National Library and the Violeta Parra Museum which was brand new when I visited. We also visited the cultural centre contained in a basement underneath the plaza next to La Moneda.

Plaza Baquedano, Santiago de Chile

Plaza Baquedano, 5 minutes from my apartment

Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

Plaza de Armas

National Flag

Looking towards La Moneda and the National Flag

Cultural Centre

The Cultural Centre next to La Moneda

I would highly recommend all of these sights, maybe with the exception of the National Library which we only went into in order to get out of the heat, as they all show a little bit of Chilean culture and history. One thing that you will notice in the city is the large number of churches and cathedrals, as Chile is a fairly religious country. Some of the churches are fairly basic but some are really impressive such as the Iglesia San Francisco, which is very close to La Moneda. I believe it is the oldest church in Chile and is beautifully decorated, and well maintained as we found out when a cleaner asked Steven to help her lift some of the heavy cleaning equipment up some steps in order to help maintain a chapel.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Metropolitan Cathedral

Iglesia San Francisco

Inside Iglesia San Francisco

I have heard a lot about Violeta Parra from Steven, and if you read much Chilean history it is very likely that you will have heard of her too as she is somewhat of a national hero that helped put Chile on the map and develop the Chilean folk music genre. I won’t go on about her too much as I don’t want to get any details wrong but if you want to learn more about her then the museum, very close to Plaza Baquedano, is well worth a visit. It is free to enter and showcases a lot of her work including original lyrics sheets, her guitar, photos of her and her art work. It also tells you more about her life, from her humble origins all the way up to her tragic suicide. A word of warning though, at the time I visited the museum was completely in Spanish but the information was easy to translate.

Violeta Parra Museum

Inside the Museo Violeta Parra

One thing I love about Santiago, in addition to the climate, people, and the atmosphere is the large amount of open space and the number of parks despite being a populated city surrounded by mountains. Parque Forestal, Parque Uruguay and Museo Parque de las Esculturas are among the open spaces that I have spent time in so far, most of which have been situated along the river. Museo Parque de las Esculturas is worth a visit as is has a great atmosphere and a large selection of public artworks, perhaps you could visit it when walking back from the Costanera Centre like we did. Parque Forestal is very central and seems to be a place where people like to go to relax at weekends and during their lunch breaks. I visited here a couple of times and during the first visit I was taken to what has quickly become my favourite ice cream parlour in the entire world, Emporio La Rosa. If you like ice cream then come here and take some into the park, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have fallen in love with lúcuma flavour, although as it’s a local fruit I doubt I will be able to find it in The UK.

Mapocho River, Santiago

The Mapocho River, near the Costanera Centre

Santiago

Public art and sculptures in the Parque de las Esculturas

Me in Santiago

Me walking back to the centre of Santiago after visiting the Costanera Centre

We are due to take a break from city life over the next few days and have booked a couple of day trips out of the city in order to see more of the country. Tomorrow we visit Valparaíso and then on Monday we visit Viña del Mar, which are both on the coast approximately 90 minutes from Santiago. The intercity bus service in Chile seems a LOT more extensive and efficient than that in The UK. If you want to visit either of these towns, or indeed other ones locally or further afield, then just head to the Estación Central and you can buy tickets inside the bus station next door for all of the major companies. Alternatively, I have seen kiosks dotted around the city for all of the companies if you won’t be going near Estación Central, but going there allows you to check prices and schedules of all of the companies.

I am looking forward to both day trips. Valparaíso is a city that I have heard a lot about and Viña del Mar comes highly recommended by everybody from Chile that I have talked to.

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