When I last wrote, I mentioned we had just arrived in Viña del Mar, a city on the coast of Chile about 90 minutes drive from Santiago.
Viña is a perfectly pleasant beach town, pretty much geared toward Chilean tourists getting away for the weekend. It has a passel of restaurants and cafes, strolls along a beach, and some uninteresting shopping. Viña provided a welcome respite from the bustle of Santiago.
We particularly enjoyed this bar on 8 Norte near the main Avenida…
I forget the name of the bar, but you’ll know it when you see it. Very comfortable local.
We had some good food at Otro Estilo, a teeny Italian restaurant staffed by two people (I’m guessing husband and wife — husband cooks, wife prepares drinks).
And the Hotel Monterilla, where we stayed, was extremely pleasant — comfortable rooms, free wi-fi, and ideally located to walking all over the city.
A 20-minute bus or commuter rail ride south of Viña is Valparaiso (“Valpo”), the port city of Santiago (i.e., where all the shipping happens). Valpo is justifiably famous for it’s peculiar city planning — the bulk of the city rests on a series of rather steep hills…
Arriving in Valpo by commuter rail, your find yourself in the heart of “El Plan,” the flat, gridded area that hugs the coast. Take my advice: get out of El Plan ASAP. It’s smoggy, congested, squalid, and overall unpleasant. Get yourself on an ascensor (Reina Victoria will do very well) and head for the hills.
There’s not much to “do” in Valpo — time is best spent wandering the hills, taking photographs, and stopping occasionally for a bite to eat, something to drink. Some particular photo favorites in my flickr feed:
I call this Thank God It’s Pie (click that link to see a large one, with the Pie graffito in the lower right hand corner)
Stacy amid the orange bars. This was in the “Museum of the Open Air”, a series of murals painted by artists.
“OMFG Crazy Stairs” that just go up and up…
“Color” (click for larger size)… Valpo has a San-Francisco-like love of pigment
I just love this mural…
In terms of sustenance, we found two places we liked. Kabala, on Almirante Montt was a good, somewhat hip restuarant, and Cafe Con Letras, up near Concepcion, was a very comfy coffeehouse.
After a couple days, we felt like we had gotten a robust Viña/Valpo experience — any more time spent here would have been simply lounging.
Our next destination was the little town of Olmue, from where we would set out for Parque Nacional La Campana, to climb Cerro La Campana. More on that in another post!