Upon entering the Bon Voyage coffee shop in Barrio Italia, it is easy to see that something is different. That difference is the brainchild of brother and sister, Estefany and Cristopher Martin.
The shop, which opened just three months ago, is dedicated to travelers of all kinds.
Tourists, backpackers, families, exchange students and Chileans who wish to explore their country further, will find plenty of advice for their traveling plans and a comfortable space to share their experiences.
“We are not linked to any travel agency,” explained Christopher. “We wish to offer information, maps and guidance to people who come here wanting to learn about travel alternatives in Chile and beyond.”
Cozy, inviting and quirky, Bon Voyage is housed inside the cultural center SOFA (Sociedad de Fomento al Arte) on Santa Isabel 0151.
The coffee shop is packed with travel information about Chile. It offers plenty of maps, information on free tours (a favorite), lots of books on language learning, travel guides for South America, Europe and Asia, and travel magazines that include traveler’s first hand experiences. That’s not to mention the enormous world map that encompasses an entire wall.
And it’s no wonder they want to open people’s eyes! They traveled the world and lived in New Zealand for almost two years.
“When I was traveling with my brother, we began to think about the need to have a space like this one in Chile,” explained Estefany. “In New Zealand, we saw how the country was so prepared for tourism and travel. Then, we thought of starting something based on that observation here.”
“Also, traveling opens your eyes. When you come back, you see things differently,” Christopher added. “Here we want to create friendships with people and share experiences because, through traveling, we have learned that the best information comes from experiences.”
The brother and sister team also has a whole agenda of goals to accomplish. Among their priorities is promoting healthy food like organic Costa Rican coffee, organic tea, whole wheat and vegetarian empanadas and sushi.
They have also begun hosting activities. On Tuesdays, they are lending the space to a short story workshop with renowned literary critic, Camilo Marks. Every Wednesday at 7:30 pm there are conversations held in English from the group Poliglotas, which are free for people who wish to teach or learn. They also plan to start an unplugged music cycle on Thursdays.
If you are feeling in the spirit to learn more about this exciting new initiative in travel, stop by the coffee shop, have some lunch, grab a cup of organic coffee or tea and open your eyes to new adventures.