- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Santiago, Chile
Though you'll find some of the best art by wandering the cobbled streets of Santiago's older barrios, there's no shortage of ultra-modern cultural centers to duck into and escape the mid-day heat. The best ones can be found at Estacion Mapocho, Matucana 100, and underneath the Palacio de La Moneda -- home to a compact exhibition on the art and music of Chile's beloved folk singer and artist Violeta Parra. You'll find more excellent art outside of these centers at GAM and the Museo National de Bellas Artes.
Parque Quinta Normal
Parque Quinta Normal houses over a half dozen museums within a meticulously manicured maze of greenery. Though only a few of them warrant a visit, the stately park is perfect for an afternoon stroll or, better yet, a leisurely paddle boat ride. If you decide to pop inside, try the Museo de la Memoria or the kid-friendly Museo de Historia National.
Locals often wonder why tourists are so enamored by neighboring barrios Brasil and Yungay. Yet, with much of Santiago eaten up by modernity, this sizable slice of colonial color offers a glimpse of the city's past. Exploring crumbling colonial facades of Barrio Yungay, you'll find Santiago's most imaginative graffiti murals. Plaza Brazil's spindly araucaria offers little shade, but its artistic benches and innumerable cafes make it the perfect place to rest before heading south to the most charming area of all, the near-hidden Concha y Toro.
Nightlife in Barrio Bellavista
Hardworking as they may be, Santiguans love to have a good time. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the bumping bars of Barrio Bellavista. Most action in Santiago takes place south of the comically underwhelming Rio Mapocho. However each night Santiguans cross the Pio Nono Bridge from the austere Plaza Italia to the laissez-faire side streets of Barrio Bellavista, tucked below Cerro San Cristobal and the watchful eye of Virgin Mary. Bars heat up after midnight and don't slow down until the break of dawn. If you want to keep up with the pisco-pounding locals, make sure to fill up on some late night street food like a completo or a churrasco.
Casa Pablo Naruda
Chile may be the only country in the world where a dead poet is worshiped with rock star devotion. That poet, of course, is none other than Pablo Neruda. Neruda's three eclectic houses, including Santiago's La Chascona, are some of the republic's hottest tickets -- in fact, visits to the homes in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Isla Negra are often sold out for days in the heat of summer. Entering the world of Neruda at these fantastical properties, it's not hard to see why Chileans are gaga for this larger-than-life man. If there's one thing every Chilean wants you to see, it's the houses of Pablo Neruda.