City, Sand, Wine and Art

Day 42 – 17 Apr, 2015

As it turns out, with a poor internet connection and not having near enough hours in the day to keep up with my blog, I’ve fallen a bit behind.  Bear with me as I catch up!  After an overnight bus from Pucon to Santiago, I was completely wiped out.  I spent an entire day in Santiago relaxing at La Chimba hostel in their central courtyard. It was beautiful weather and a nice day to read in the sun.

  

Santiago proved to be a great city to visit for a few days.  I liked it much more than I expected! From Santa Lucia Hill, you get great city views and quiet away from the bustle of the city center.  Plaza de Armas is the complete opposite, with street hawkers selling everything from sopaipillas to fruit juice to batteries to pad locks.

  

   
 

I also found the zoo to be quite charming and San Cristobal Hill to be a good place to get some exercise.  But in spite of how I grew fond of Santiago, Valparaiso is the real gem of this post.

   
  

Valparaiso sits on the Pacific Ocean, an important shipping harbor for Central Chile.  Built into the side of a steep hill, there are funiculars to carry someone from the bottom of town to the top.  Artists and musicians pepper the streets, adding a hippie vibe to this eclectic city.

    

      

I spent 2 full days just roaming up and down the steep avenues of the city, armed with my camera. I couldn’t stop taking photos.  Around every corner (literally), graffiti and artistic expressions covered every surface.  A photographer’s Eden! 

   
 

The wine region of Casablanca is also right outside of the city limits, which made an easy day trip to sample some of Chile’s best Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc.

   
 

With so much to do in Valparaiso, I should have stayed there but on my last day I decided to venture to Concon, a beach community with renowned seafood restaurants and towering sand dunes.  Earlier in the week, I had met a girl that had gone sandboarding in Concon and she had the most amazing Instagram photo action shot.  I had no illusions that I would actually enjoy sandboarding, but admittedly I really wanted that same photo.

I took a local bus to Concon, but the driver changed his route halfway there so that we ended up going underneath the dunes rather than above them where I was supposed to be. As the driver was barreling along further from my destination, and I realized I was the last person on the bus, I tried to explain to him where I needed to go, all the while I was being tossed from one side of the bus to the other on the curvy roads.  Finally, he stops and tells me to get off and that the sand dunes are a short walk up some stairs.  I knew this couldn’t be right but I was out of options.  I disembarked and started walking the 3 miles back to the dunes.  Luckily, I found a map on a billboard, of which I took a picture and began navigating through the narrow streets.  I was low on cash in a residential area with no banks.  As I can occasionally have a flair for the dramatic, and not knowing at the time how far I would have to walk, I started rationing the water and 10 crackers I had in my bag just in case I would forever be stranded in this ritzy part of Chile.  Yes, I realize this is an overreaction.

   
 
I never did find the sandboarding, but I did locate the sand dunes.  I didn’t starve or die of thirst and I didn’t need any money to climb to the top and snap a few photos.