I’ve been a slacker. I have had so much fun exploring our new city that I have completely forgotten about this blog. And that’s a good thing. In a world of Instagram, Facebook, and Blogs I have to remind myself (or my husband reminds me) that not every moment has to be captured. Some are just there for the experience. But I’m not good at that because I love taking pictures and I love capturing our memories!
All that to say, I desperately need to finish the tale of our Chilean adventure before I begin to not be able to remember some of the details. So here it goes…
After leaving Valdivia, we drove to Temuco to catch our flight to Santiago. I don’t know that we’ve had a trip that has involved so many modes of transportation. One round trip international flight, 3 domestic flights, a bus, multiple cars, taxis, a boat, some hitchhiking, bicycles…if only we had taken a train! Anyway, we arrived in Santiago and spent the night at a cute boutique hotel downtown. The next morning we left to spend the next couple of days exploring the coastal cities of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. I researched these cities prior to us traveling, but even in my research I still pictured them as quaint beach towns. I couldn’t have been more wrong. These two cities are gigantic, bustling cities that just happen to lie on the ocean coast of Chile.
Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, and the two other cities they connect with literally bleed together along the coast and if it weren’t for the signs it would be impossible to tell when you left one and arrived in another. We ate at a seafood place in Vina del Mar and checked out the giant clock made entirely of flowers and then headed to Valparaiso for the rest of the day. Valparaiso is known for it’s many colorful houses and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is also know for it’s maze-like layout. The city is built on many hillsides with streets that go one way all the way up the hill and one way down the other side. It’s very difficult to find your way around especially if your hotel is on a little known side street (which ours was) making it easy to get lost (which we did…for an hour and a half).
Once we finally made it to the hotel, we were met by a charming Chilean woman who gave us a crash course in Valparaiso history and told us the best way to spend our time there. We ventured out that evening and explored the labyrinth that is Valparaiso to the best of our ability. Because the city is set on a series of hills, they also have installed funiculars throughout the city to help you get to the top and bottom of the hills. We rode the funiculars to the bottom level and took a boat tour of the harbor to get a better view of the multi-colored shoreline.
After the boat ride, we found a great little restaurant overlooking the city and then enjoyed just walking the colorful neighbors and seeing the sites.
The next morning we made one last long drive of the winding roads and then headed back to Santiago. The road from Valparaiso back to Santiago is through Chilean wine country, so obviously we had to stop and check out a vineyard. We stopped at the Vina Mar winery which was a beautiful piece of property set at the base of some green hills and surrounded by the the vines. Driving up to the winery, the views were spectacular. We participated in a wine tasting and explored the vineyard before heading back to the city for the final few days of our trip.
Once back in Santiago, we made a beeline for the zoo (a long beeline, we got lost for awhile again). We love zoos and have been able to visit two other international zoos in Berlin, Germany and Athens, Greece. Santiago’s Zoologico Nacional is small, but is set on the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago which is a big hill in the midst of the city that houses the zoo, Japanese Gardens, and a pool, among other fun activities. We enjoyed seeing all of the animals and also drove around the hill to explore the rest of what it had to offer (including great views of the city). We also took the funicular from the top of the hill to the bottom and explored one of Santiago’s artsy neighborhoods that lies below. We had lunch at McDonalds which is a tradition that started in Greece-Derek has decided he wants to try McDonalds in all the countries we visit.
Our second full day in Santiago was spent exploring as many of the different districts as we could. We checked out the city’s main cathedral, went to some art museums, visited the Paris/Londres neighborhoods, and rode the subway.
And then it was the last day. After over two weeks we were down to our final 12 hours in Chile. We went to a local market to stock up on some souvenirs for our family, friends, and ourselves. Our souvenirs consisted mostly of awesome hats, socks, and jackets made from either llamas, alpacas, or guanacos and some lapis lazuli which is a local blue gem that’s put into jewelry and miniature figurines. I opted for the jewelry. Our last fun activity was a bike tour with Bicicleta Verde around the city. We got to learn a lot about the city and the country’s history as well as check out some other local sights.
We walked back to our hotel and stopped for one last Pisco Sour and took our final taxi to the airport.
Chile is an incredible country full of adventure, interesting food, friendly people, and some of the most outstanding natural beauty we have ever seen (an we’ve seen some good sights). If you ever get the chance to journey to the southern tip of the Americas, I highly recommend it. We hope to be back! After all, we still have the entire northern part of the country to explore. So, I do believe there are more pisco sours in our future. Viva Chile!