How to spend the day in luxury on a backpacker budget
"Buenas tardes, senorita" chorused the doormen at the Hotel Montasario. Being firmly in my senora years, I smiled widely & returned the greeting,as I entered. The Hotel Montasario is a former monastery turned 5 star hotel, with rooms starting at $560 per night (certainly out of my price range). But I had read that it has beautiful public spaces & I wanted to catch a glimpse.
One of the privileges of being an American traveller is that you are welcomed in any high-end hotel provided you have reasonable posture & don´t smell of urine.
The first thing you notice about the former monastery is just how imposing it is: high stone walls, flying buttresses overhead & a fireplace in which you could roast a goat. Despite it´s Jesuit roots the lobby bar has a welcoming feel. Large oriental carpets are sactttered about , overstuffed sofas & high-backed, red leather chairs are arranged in cozy seating arrangements. I took a seat near the roaring fireplace & within seconds was greeted in flawless English by my server. I ordered a pisco sour (natch) and a bite to eat (freshly fried veggie chips with guacamole & some sort of yellow pepper puree). Curled up in the big wing back I felt just like the lady of the manor and was treated as such. It was a lovely way to escape the gray drizzle.
After I had finished my book (Bel Canto) and had my rest, I headed back to San Blas for some dinner. Papa Pancha is a charming restaurant situated in a courtyard with a fireplace & a reputation for good Andean food. I ordered the vegetable & quinoa soup with a maracuya sour (similar to a pisco sour but with passion fruit puree). All was well until the American blowhard at the adjoining table started in on his monologue. "blah, blah, there is this great Andean restaurant in San Franciso, blah, blah". I tried to tune him out, but he was so close & so loud & so obnoxious he forced his way into my conscience. He continued, "blah, blah, ya know I was disappointed by Macchu Pichu, blah, blah" he says to his dining companion. SERIOUSLY?? Well, fuck-you.
I wanted to scream, "At you least you got to be there, I came all the way here & it´s CLOSED, you smug bastard, so fuuuuck you."
He continues to drone on....."blah, blah, blah, I hope I get some sleep, the altitude gives me horrible insomnia, blah, blah, blah". I wish him a thousand sleepless nights as I finish my soup.