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.
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.
Pancho 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.
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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