Valparaiso and Vina del Mar are two tourist hot spots not far from Santiago in Chile. The trip to the coast from Santiago takes about two hours.

Read: A Weekend Trip to Santiago de Chile

During my walks around Santiago de Chile I completely fell in love with its atmosphere and the friendliness of the people. Nearly everyone said hi when I entered a shop, they smiled and they were very helpful. I also travelled to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar for a day trip during the week I spent in Santiago.

Valparaiso and Vina del Mar

On my third day in Santiago I took a bus out to Valparaiso, which is about an hour away by the sea. It is the port town of Santiago and everyone was going on about it. If I want to be honest it wasn’t really worth the trip! It looked like any other port town with a small historic district and a tram line. Vina del Mar, another “must see” place was just next door but it didn’t really impress me either. In retrospect I think I was just tired of travelling but to be honest I can’t think of anything that really impressed me there.

Vina del Mar ChilePancho came back from Valdivia five days later and then the next day I took a bus up north to Arica. The journey took 28 hours in a reclining seat! I wanted to save some money so I bought the cheaper ticket – bad decision! Many bus companies operate services with actual beds on board which is what Pancho booked for himself. I should have listened to him!

After a tortuous journey I finally got back to Arica and spent the next couple of days sleeping!

Chilean Lunch At The French Restaurant

I had lunch in a small French style cafe nearly every day. It was really smart, although it was not much bigger than my current living room. The food was really good and extremely cheap – only 2,000 pesos for a two course lunch. It was normally soup and a second course and I never left hungry.

Read: Road Trip from Chile to Ecuador

The restaurant was so popular that people were queuing outside to get in. I normally went ten minutes because lunch was about to start, sat down in a nearly empty restaurant, ordered, washed my hands and by the time I finished my soup there was a line of people outside.

I normally sat at a two seater table so when someone was queuing outside I told them they could sit with me because I wanted to grab every opportunity to talk in Spanish. The flat where I was staying was in the posh Providencia district of Santiago near the Sheraton and the US embassy.

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