Valparaíso & Viña del Mar


That’s where we were yesterday and that’s what I’ll address today, though I didn’t write about the day before. Maybe I’ll write about today later.

Valparaíso is a port city. Which means that it’s a big city. But within that big city is a small Unesco World Heritage site up on a hill part of the city that has charm and old and new world sensibilities. That is where we spent part of the day. But before we get to that we had to get there. Here is the Santiago Bus station at 8 am. Lots of people on the move. Lots of buses moving them. All of them full. And this part of the bus station is just the turbos bus company. There are several others: Pullman, Andesmar, El Rapido, Flecha…


The ride was a pretty quick 1.5 hours spying vineyards along the highway, as well as some urban sprawl in terms of what looked like bedroom communities. For a while, we went through some dense fog.


Arrival in Valparaíso was strange. It was cold, for one thing. It was rather ugly.

20190211_102841Nothing charming about that area of town. Except for the open air market. There is no shortage of food, I’ll tell you that. I was wishing I could go shopping and go home and cook. It’s one of the better fruit and vegetable markets we’ve seen here and the prices were less than we’d seen other places.

We made the mistake of not stopping into the Info center at the bus station, instead walking toward Plaza Sotomayor. It was a fer piece, but easy to get to. Again, not lovely to walk to and with a derth of the cosy cafes we are used to seeing. Plaza Sotomayer had a few utilitarian cafes and we pooped out in one of them. This gave us the pep we needed to begin afresh. A tourist info center was close by; availing ourselves of the friendly help within, we were soon on our way up, via funicular to artsy old Valparaíso, which is known for its street art as well as its architecture. Following are some pics, starting with a view from the funicular, which got us up a very steep hill.



This is the Museo de Bellas Artes. Unfortunately, as this was a Monday, it was closed.


Street Art


Charlie has such a good sense of direction and so loves to read maps that I find myself being rather lazy in that regard. It’s relaxing to allow him to do the work. But sometimes, these old cities are confusing in their layout and it takes both of our eyes and minds to decipher our whereabouts on the map and then to determine where we’re going. When I travel on my own or when my mom and I traveled together, I am quite capable of getting around and about.


More architecture – and loving these colors!


As we walked up the street, I noticed ant stencils placed at fairly regular intervals. How clever the the proprietors of this establishment are!

From the next few photos, you can see just how densely populated it is and get a sense of the verticality of the place.



I just don’t know how the world can sustain this population. It’s just explosive. When I’m in a big city like this, my mind reels with the sheer numbers of apartment buildings, the number of apartments within those buildings, the fact that they all have running water and plumbing. How does it get there and where does it all go?! Multiply this one city of Santiago, population of 5.6 million in 2017, by the tens of thousands of other big cities, and it could drive me to drink. Which reminds me – time to take a break and go out to try a Pisco Sour, info following in case you’re interested.

Ingredients: 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Egg white, 1 1/2 oz Pisco, 3/4 oz Simple syrup
Preparation: Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then pour into glass and garnish with bitters.
Served: Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish: Angostura bitters
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass (I’ve also seen them served in flute glasses.)

I’m back. Slightly the better for the wear to take an old saying and update it. Much like life for those of us of a certain age. We’re slightly better for the wear – in some circumstances, anyway.

Viña del Mar

Since we got an early start (unusual for us!), we decided we had time to take in Viña Del Mar, just 20 minutes away by local bus. Of course we had several bus number possibilities that we should take to get us there. At a bus stop I asked a driver of a bus, with a different number than any of the 5 given to us, if we could get a bus to Viña Del Mar from that stop. He said, “I’m going to Viña.” A passenger piped up, “Shopping?” I said, “to the beach.” We were motioned on. Now we had to figure out where to get off. Ask one person and several are happy to help you. I love that! In fact, we got off at a better place than tourist office guy said. Bigger beach, fewer people.

The waves don’t look like much in the photo, but they had a very strong undertow and came crashing down close to shore. In fact, the red flags were flying and the signs said not to swim. Yeah, right. The water was grand; cold, but not too.


Other than the beach and the water, I don’t have much to say about V del M and don’t know that I would recommend it for more than a few days. But, we might have missed a critical area. We met a couple from Canada who went on a 3 hour  and said it was the best ever. They were effusive. We’ll never know.

Sometimes in travel, things work out – like getting to a better beach. Sometimes they don’t – like it being a Monday and the museum’s closed or timing is off. Still, here you are in another country and it’s beautiful.

To end today’s post, I’m going to put a plug in for Charlie. On Sunday we went to the Museo de Memoria y Derechos Humanos. It was not a lighthearted romp. I won’t be writing about it. Charlie has done so – and beautifully; I recommend you read his post.

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