Daytrip to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso

Trip Start Mar 13, 2009
Trip End Mar 29, 2009

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Today, Scott, Chris and I decided to take a daytrip to the coastal towns of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. Famous for being picturesque as well as working port towns, the cities are about a two-hour bus ride from Santiago. Thanks to excellent directions from Alma, we had no problem catching the subway to the bus station and getting the bus out there.

We opted to take a tour, since the sights are quite spread out and not easily negotiable on foot, and we had limited time. Since it was a Monday and things were quiet, we got the entire van tour and driver to ourselves, which was awesome because we kept asking him to stop to take lots of pictures.

Starting off in Vina del Mar, we saw a panoramic view of the city, and then headed to the archeological museum to see the giant moai statue out front. Scott had seen loads of them in Easter Island the week before, but for the rest of us, it was our chance to get up close and personal to a moai. Pretty cool.

Then, we headed down to Renaca, which is the beach area and boardwalk portion of Vina del Mar. We spent some time walking along the beach, just people-watching and enjoying the day.

Next, we drove up to Valparaiso, which is a town full of hills and funiculars and elevators to get around. Its colonial architecture and brightly-coloured buildings make it famously picturesque. We had lunch at a beautiful little restaurant with an incredible view overlooking the port. Then we wandered around town, photographing all the architecture and old buildings and great views we could find.

At one point, I was a bit too eager to take a photo, and I tripped with my camera in hand. I really thought it was irreparably broken at that point, and I was pretty upset, seeing as how we would be getting back to Santiago too late to do anything about it before heading south to Patagonia early tomorrow. Luckily, we fiddled around with it for a while, and Scott managed to get it more or less working again. Then, our driver was super-nice and helped us find a camera store in Vina del Mar where they were able to take the lens apart and clean it properly.

Camera rescued, we set off to accomplish a few other missions. Chris was successful in finding a new electric shaver, after his broke on the first day in Santiago, thus preventing him from looking like ZZ Top. Unfortunately, he was less successful at getting a plane ticket for Punta Arenas. We finally figured the best bet would be for him to simply show up at the airport the next morning with his original booking and hope for the best.

Vina del Mar and Valparaiso are both beautiful cities with so much to see and do. The only disappointment was only having the day to spend there. But I was really happy to have had the chance to see them at all.

After the wine festival, we headed back to Santiago. We had one last group dinner, this time at a middle eastern restaurant, to cap off Santiago-fest.

Scott, Chris, Jules, me, Efrain, Alma and Senor Airpaze Lopez all had a terrific time. We couldn't believe it was over so quickly, but we will definitely have to do it again sometime.
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