Last Day in Santiago, off to Valparaiso and Back to Santiago

Published: March 21st 2014
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Now that I was in the know about the changing of the guard, I had my plan of attack. First on my list was to finish packing my stuff, store it and check out of the hotel. Next was a déjà vu of my first day. I went to the café across the street and had a smoked salmon bagel and café Americano. Things were falling into place and I couldn’t be happier. After a quick Metro ride, I was in front of the Moneda Palace ready for the changing of the guard. In Lima this ceremony was done behind big iron fences, giving all of my pictures the illusion of being shot from inside a jail cell. Here we were kept at least 30 to 40 yards behind big fountains with a glass wall surrounding them. It was better than fences, but still not ideal for pictures, although that did not slow me down whatsoever. The ceremony started with troops marching from within the building. In the distance I could hear noise and a band playing behind me. A procession of a formally attired band and troops were led by police on horseback from across the street. Traffic halted as
Mix of Murals and CityMix of Murals and CityMix of Murals and City

Valparaiso, Chile
they crossed the busy Alameda. All in all it was very impressive. I took a stand today and held firm in my front row. Yes, I am tall, but the thing is that I made it out of bed and down there early enough for a good spot. I wasn’t going to have the top of people’s heads in each of my pictures. The ceremony was impressive and well worth the trouble to discover. I hope you will enjoy the pictures.

Once the guard had been changed, I backtracked our tour from the day before and headed to Café Haiti. This is also known as the place with coffee with legs. The women who work in each Café Haiti wear high heels and miniskirts. I had seen this on a travel program and thought it would be interesting to see. The coffee was strong and good, so it was a nice experience. When in Santiago, do as Santiago does. From there I went to the Post Office to mail postcards and then headed back to the hotel to pick up my luggage. Luckily I was only a block from the Metro station, so it was an easy walk with all of my stuff. Getting everything through the tiny turnstile was a bit of a cluster, but in the end I made it work. Buses to Valparaiso run every 15 minutes or so from the central bus station, meaning that I only had to wait a short time before I was on the bus and heading towards the Coast.

I had expected better scenery going through the wine region, but it was rather plain. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t make me grab my camera and keep clicking. After about two hours we pulled into the Valparaiso bus station. A quick taxi ride way up into the hills and I was at my hotel ready to head out exploring. The free tour in Santiago had been such a good experience that I wanted to take the one in Valparaiso. When I chose my hotel online I knew it was up in the hills with beautiful views, but I didn’t really get how far up it was until I started walking down the crumbling, winding sidewalks. No street runs in a straight line creating switchbacks, twists and turns. My map was useless, so down I went hoping for the best. I had missed lunch while on the bus, so when I reached a business area I stopped at a dive place for a hamburger Italian style. In Chile Italian style simply means with tomato, mayonnaise and avocado; red, white and green just like the Italian flag. The bun was huge, there was tons of shredded iceberg lettuce and hiding under a small piece of tomato was the sad little hamburger patty. No matter, I was hungry as heck, I was late and I didn’t care. I ate the darn thing so fast that the metal of my silverware heated up from the friction. (Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but consider it poetic license) After eating, I went to where I thought the meeting place should be. Once again, I was in the wrong place, so I had to hoof it to the right place, making it with a few minutes to spare.

Just as in Santiago, the tour was informative, fun and filled with quirky stories. We rode up the Queen Victoria Funicular, wound our way through narrow streets. Valparaiso is known for its funiculars, hills and colorfully painted buildings and stairs. Unlike many places, the colors are not dictated, meaning there are eye popping colors every which way. In addition to colorful buildings, many have been decorated with tiles, graffiti, flowers, murals and honestly anything the residents could possibly think to do. It makes for a fun, interesting walk. We stopped along several lookout points to take in the view of the Bay and watch ships. The weather was amazingly beautiful with deep blue skies and lots of sun. After another funicular ride and some steps, we stopped at an Artesanales Alfajores stop for some cookies. Alfajores are these incredible little cookies filled with dulce de leche and then dipped in chocolate. It was love at first bite, so I took an extra back to my hotel for late evening snacking. As if that wasn’t enough, we swung past an empanada shop and had a free tasting of Pisco Sours and could by empanadas if we wanted. I chose to order what the guide was ordering. If he eats there often, he must know what is good and he did if you like an empanada filled with ground beef, salami and cheese. I did and was more than pleased with it. When the tour was finished, I took a quick boat ride around the bay. It was nice to see the city from a different perspective. We floated by several Chilean battleships and a huge cargo ship that was being loaded with containers. The port of Valparaiso is very deep, so big ships can come in to load and unload. The boat ride was a nice diversions, but my mind kept going back to the fact that the ice cream place I had fallen in love with had a shop in Valparaiso. To support the local economy I made a stop and had a sinful mix of mango and raspberry mint. It was even better than I had hoped. I sat on a bench in a grey, gritty, run down alley and enjoyed it as much as if I were at the Ritz. Fortunately the ice cream place was near a taxi stop, so I grabbed one, headed up the hill and went back to the hotel to watch the lights come on down in the city. What a great day.

The next day will be in its own blog, so I am going to jump ahead to Wednesday. I had a quiet breakfast in the hotel overlooking the blue bay before checking out of the hotel. I wanted to take the train to Vina del Mar for a quick look about. When I checked my luggage into the storage room, the desk clerk told me that I could catch the 607 bus in the small square near my hotel. I am always up for an adventure, so I headed to the square, where there are no bus stop signs at all, and waited until I saw a bus. A quick dash later, I was sitting on the bus listening to an old man chat at me in Spanish even though I kept saying no intiendo, I don’t understand. It didn’t slow him down at all. My next concern was where the stupid bus was going. I really didn’t have a clue, but knew that it was heading downhill and that was where the train was. Through some buildings I saw a train station, so popped up, got off the bus and made a bee line to the station. It was a nice train ride along the coast to Vina de Mar. Along the way I saw an art exhibit that had been depicted in a mural on the walking tour. Several cars were suspended from clothes pins to signify that you should leave your car and walk around Valparaiso. Whether that was really the message or not I don’t know, but it made for a nice story to go with a whimsical looking exhibit. I didn’t spend much time in Vina del Mar, but was pleased with the little jaunt I made. Back in Valparaiso, I grabbed a taxi, headed up the hill, grabbed my luggage and went down to the bus terminal. A bus was leaving for Santiago, so I hopped on and had a nice ride back to the city.

It was early enough in the day that I had time to take the Metro to Santa Lucia and take an outdoor elevator to the top of the hill for some incredible views. It was a warm, sunny day but there was a haze covering the city and Andes so my pictures did not come out that well. No matter, I enjoyed walking around the city park on a big hill in the middle of Santiago. When I had spent enough time wandering there, I went to a museum that I had wanted to see earlier in the week, but did not have a change. And once again, I was wildly close to the ice cream place, so felt obligated to stop or a lime-mint, raspberry-mint combo to enjoy in front of the same fountain. It was a perfect way to finish my time in Chile.

Additional photos below
Photos: 44, Displayed: 28


Changing of the GuardChanging of the Guard
Changing of the Guard

Look at the straight line. Very impressive

Look closely. Do you see ANYTHING resembling a burger patty?
Love This SlideLove This Slide
Love This Slide

They have a slide going from the walkway outside the funicular. It was too hot to go down, but I love that they did this.

21st March 2014

Go where the wind blows or the bus goes
Sometimes you just need to jump on the bus and see where it takes you. You've jammed a lot into these days...action packed and more ice cream! Lovely sunny days. Keep those blogs coming.
21st March 2014

It is all an adventure
My thought in a situation like that is that I can always grab a taxi to where I should have gone in the first place. Sometimes the journey is the point of the exercise. And never say no to ice cream!
22nd March 2014

Voluptuous Valpo
So glad you enjoyed wonderful Valpo with its incredible colors and energy! I remember that green Anglican church in this photo--picturesque neighborhoods to wander up there. So what was the museum in Santiago you visited--maybe the Pre-Columbian or the Museum of Memory about the Pinochet period? Those were my 2 faves, though there were also fine others. Glad you enjoyed the ice cream--orange-ginger and one with beets were my faves. Yum!
22nd March 2014

Valpo cetainly was Voluptuous
It was a great city to start the descent back towards the end of vacation and all too sudden jolt of the reality of being on my way home. I really enjoyed simply wandering, riding the funiculars and of course the ice cream. I don't remember what the museum in Santiago was, but it was very small. I think it was the Anthropological Museum. It was actually only 1 room, but I did feel virtuous by being there. See what a good influence you are. Oh, my post card was waiting for me at work. Thank you so much.
24th March 2014
Cars Hung by Clothespins

hanging cars
Are you sure there wasn't a car wash nearby and they were just hanging the cars up to dry? lol Loving the pictures! Looks like you're having a great time! :)
24th March 2014
Cars Hung by Clothespins

Car Wash
Oh Deb, I just laughed at the thought of that, thank you. once I gave some serious consideration, I realized that they just aren't that fastidious about cleanliness, so the car wash probably wasn't it. But what a great great thought. Thank you so much for the chuckle.
28th March 2014

i've enjoyed your detailed travelog, reliving some of my travels in bolivia and chile. just a quick note on the changing of the guard. those are not soldiers, they are police officers. the police are not part of the military, though they can be regarded as a militarized police force (so can the american police, with their helicopters, body armour, machine guns, armoured vehicles, and battering rams). it is a national police force based on the italian national police, the carabineri (hence "carabinero" in chile). too bad about the hamburger, but chileans make crappy burgers. you would have been better off eating a chararero or a churrasco sandwhich. doggies is also considered to be the worst of the hot dog places, but it'll work in a pinch. santiago does need to improve its communication with tourists. there are a couple of tourist offices (near plaza de armas and in providencia) but not well marked. santiago is a city that rewards the patient traveller. it's not as in your face as buenos aires or rio. the city has a subtle personality, much like chileans themselves. i hope you made it to other parts of the city, like the plaza brasil area to the west of downtown or plaza ñuñoa which is southeast of downtown. anywho. happy trails!
31st March 2014

Thank you for the clarification
I always want to have correct information, so will adjust the blog. I really appreciate the comments and info. True, a hamburger was probably not the best choice, and I knew it, but a few Californians were talking about a hamburger chain and I started craving a burger. Unfortunately after eating that one I was still craving a burger. lol I enjoyed Santiago, but did not really have as much time there as I needed. Flights from Bolivia weren't working well with my schedule. That just means I will need to head back. Again, thanks for the comments.
14th May 2014

Valparaiso streets.....
....looks like a great place for street photography. First in best dressed with the changing of the guards, fair enough you keep your place at the front!

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