February 19, 2009

Viña del Mar and Valparaiso

Vina Beach 1
 Vina Beach 2
Vina Beach 3
 Vina Beach 4
Vina Sand Sculpture 1
del Mar
 Vina Sand Sculpture 2
Vina Sand Sculpture 3
 Vina Sand Sculpture 4
Betty and Sculpture
 Bill and Scupture
Vina buildings
and Clock
 Flower Clock
Fish Market
with Matt
 Betty and Mattt
Funicular rails
and Harbor
 BandB over the Harbor
Fish Market
 Betty and Mattt
and More in
Funicular rails
 BandB over the Harbor

Press HERE to view a Flickr slide show.

We left for Vina del Mar on Monday. We used the Turbus company again. They have good clean buses with reasonable fares. For example, the roundtrip fare to Vina was about $11 each. Vina has a reputation as a special place for beach goers. We looked for an inexpensive place. The best that we could do was $42 per night. This was for a basic hotel room. It is possible to find doubles in the $25 to $34 per night range. This may not sound high to my North American or European readers, but it is very high for a country where the median annual income could be as low as $6000. Vina has a good feel to it. There are a couple of beaches. One is more than a mile long. We saw thousands of folks sunning, playing and swimming on the beach and in the ocean. We just enjoyed the sun. I got a bit sunburned on our first day. In the evening we ate Mexican food, which appears to be very popular in Vina.

The second day we started by walking to the city center. We walked the length of Valparaiso Avenue. Then we made our way to the flower clock. This clock is a tourist attraction of little value. Still it was cute and so were the folks that passed by it to take a photo. In the afternoon we met Matt Richardson in the main plaza in Vina del Mar. He is an old friend of Betty's brother John. He visited us in 2005 when we lived in Buenos Aires. He got burned out on work back in the states and came down to Chile to recharge. We spent the rest of the day together talking, drinking and eating.

On Wednesday we took a bus to Valparaiso in the morning. We walked through a wonderful outdoor where we found all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetable. Even better, we saw all kinds of fish for sale. Chile is a large producer of seafood and it was easy to see here. At noon we were at the Plaza O’Higgins where we met Matt. He is staying at a hostel right next to the plaza. He took us on a long walking tour through the city. It is much more working class than Vina and has a huge amount of character. The buildings and paint often reminded me of Boca in Buenos Aires. We rode a funicular up the side of hill about ten stories. It is a lovely town, rough at the edges with a great character and heart. Late in the afternoon we headed back to Vina. Matt came with and in the evening we ate empanadas and returned to a nice bar called Colmao. Mostly local folks drink there with its very cheap beer.

Today we got a very late start. In the morning we were trying to figure out our accommodations for the next week, sending out inquiries to Couchsurfing members. We got together with Matt again in the afternoon. We planned to check out a park on the south side of the business district. It was closed as they prepared for a music festival that is to begin on Monday. We went to a great little eatery off a side street by the bus depot. We had soup and fish and salad and potatoes, all wonderfully made and costing a mere $8 for all three of us. We continued our walking tour of Vina, circling the city to find stadiums and a small lake. Eventually we made our way back to the beach with its colorful flags and umbrellas. We rested an hour after all the walking. Then we went back to bar Colmoa. Two liters of beer later we bid Matt good-bye.

Tomorrow we will spend the whole day on buses as we journey to Concepcion.

Posted by bill at February 19, 2009 07:31 PM

hola bill and betty, smooth travels along the coast, one can almost feel the breeze off the sea in your blogs. i had been interested in valpariso, ciao luke

Posted by: luke at February 20, 2009 07:02 AM