Saroki Architecture heads to the End of the World!
A professor of mine once said that as architects, it is our responsibility to travel; and I couldn’t agree more! Traveling not only affords an architect to experience their destination first hand, but allows them to partake in experiencing the civic and social aspects of the city – the culture, food, and people – which are significant in shaping the architecture. Having recently returned from an excursion in Chile and Argentina, I wanted to share my experiences.
Our trip began in Santiago, Chile. After a quick visit to the coast, we made our way south to the Patagonia region. We spent a few nights on the Chilean side of Patagonia before traveling to the Argentine side to explore the ice fields. The trip concluded in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires. I have outlined below a few highlights from each of our destinations.
Looking back on the trip, I wish we would have stayed longer in Santiago. I was impressed with the city’s juxtaposition of wide ranging architectural styles surrounded by mountains. There was everything from neoclassical architecture to modern skyscrapers. Santiago was filled with great food, animated cafes and nightlife, and a flourishing art scene.
Valparaiso/ Viña del Mar, Chile
An hour and a half drive from Santiago, through the scenic Chilean wine country, was Valparaiso. Located on the pacific coast of Chile, it is known for its bohemian culture and dramatic views. The undulating streets are surrounded by brightly colored houses and buildings. Five minutes up the coast is Viña del Mar, with dramatic stretches of white sandy beaches.
Puerto Natales, Chile
Though not easily accessible, Puerto Natales was well worth the travel because of its location as gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. After two flights and a few hours of driving, we were finally in the heart of Patagonia! It seemed fitting that in every brightly colored house’s yard, in the small fishing town of Puerto Natales, was a wooden fishing boat. Torres del Paine National Park is a two hour drive from Puerto Natales and features breathtaking mountains, glaciers, and lakes. In the park, we completed an 8 hour trek to the base of the famed three towers. Although quite difficult, hiking to the base is a must, and the view is well worth it!
El Calafate, Argentina
A five hour drive north of Puerto Natales, along the Argentine border, is El Calafate. The town is set on the glacial Lago Argentino, and is only 50 miles away from the Perito Moreno glacier in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The views we experienced from hiking the glacier were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The various shades of glacial blue and the glacial lagoons were breathtaking. We ended our trek with some whiskey, cooled by million year old glacial ice!
Even though we never got off of the plane in Ushuaia, I thought it was worth writing about. Ushuaia, the capitol of Tierra del Fuego, is widely known as the southernmost city in the world, from which most Antarctic expeditions leave port. Thanks to my window seat on the plane, I was lucky enough to have an amazing view of the snowcapped Martial Mountain Range protruding through the clouds above the entire city.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
We headed to Buenos Aires with expectations high, after having people rave to me about it for months before my trip; I began to wonder if the city could live up to its hype. BA exceeded my expectations – from the architecture, to the food and nightlife, everything seemed to be just right. Argentina is known for its beef, so it was worth trying one of the parrillas (traditional steak restaurants). Our best meal in BA was from a puertas cerrada, or closed door restaurant, from which talented chefs open their homes to cook a tasting menu showcasing their creativity and signature style. Though BA boasts world famous nightlight, the best places were the ones that were harder to find. A highlight of mine was visiting a few of the hidden speakeasies. Another great experience was the polo match we attended. I would highly recommend Buenos Aires and plan on visiting it again myself.
Best | Alex Saroki