Foiled - Ben's kidnapping!!!

Published: September 30th 2017
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Some crappy fruit to go along with breakfast.
Geo: -33.01, -71.55

One of the hotel's employees has the worst attitude - Ben and I went first for breakfast, but nobody was in the breakfast room, so he went to inform the lady that we were there. Well ... she comes out with breakfast for only one person, and chastises us, saying "He only asked for one coffee!" Apparently, Ben didn't say anything to her, only waved at her to come to the breakfast room. And she never came back with more coffee, or bread. How hard could that have been? It's friggin' Nescafe - instant! You don't even make it, you give me water and a packet and I stir it myself!!! Shouldn't we receive better service, given that there appears to be only two other people besides us in the whole joint? I'd complain, but then I think of Liszett ... oh ... Liszett ... this hotel is perfect ...

Luckily, we had the fruit we bought yesterday to munch on. Unluckily, the apricots were crap - bitter and sour, kind of like my attitude after that worker was so rude to us! But then I thought of Liszett and ... oh ... Liszett ... this hotel is so perfect

I HATED the jam they served at the hotel, but not because of the flavour, which was decent, but because the friggin' little packs were impossible to open!

We tossed out the apricots and tried the plums, which were significantly better, but still not good. Ben waited for the girls to get ready, and I headed over to an internet cafe. By the time I encountered one, there wasn't much time before I needed to return to the hotel, so I popped into a heavenly-smelling empanada shop (fresh from the oven!) I came back with a couple of cheese and pino (egg, ground beef, olives, onion) empanadas. A big improvement over my earlier, non-existent breakfast!

Ben complained about bugs nibbling on him last night. I would've hated that, but would've appreciated Liszett nibbling on me ... oh Liszett ... this hotel is so perfect ... After we finished up the empanadas, it was off to Vina del Mar. Though essentially the same city as Valpo (a single street literally separates the two, cross it and you're in the other city), I'm spending the night in Vina del Mar. I don't really like staying in one spot too long, so I originally was going to spend only two nights in Valpo, and two nights in Vina del Mar. I decided that I liked Valpo better (and also the hotel's

Our scuzzy bathtub, in our scuzzy hotel. The only good thing about this hotel is Liszett ... oh, Liszett ... this hotel is so perfect ...
receptionist ...), so I canceled one night in Vina. Truthfully, I considered canceling the second night, but didn't want to do that to the owners of the guest house I reserved with.

Anyway, we're all spending the day together in Vina - we hopped on the metro, but upon arrival, I had trouble finding the guest house. I called for directions and told them I was at a nearby gas station, and the owner, Giselle, said to walk up the hill and her husband would pick me up along the way. I never did run into him, but did manage to find the guest house. Of course, Giselle asked why I spoke Spanish and I gave my standard answer of "Because Spanish women speak Spanish." There are other variations of this explanation that I've used in the past, such as "Because without doubt, the most beautiful women in the world are from Spain.", "Because Spanish women are hot!", and "Because I need to speak it to trick a little Spanish senorita into marrying me!"

I dropped off my bag, and headed off to meet BH&M, back at the gas station. On my way out, I saw her husband, Carlos, returning from

The gas station where Ben's attempted kidnapping took place - we took a picture of it to document the crime scene. You'll notice the gas station attendant just behind Ha, jumping up and waving his arms. If you recognize him, let us know, because he's a person of interest in this still unsolved case.
looking for me. He asked if my friends were down at the gas station, because he just spoke to them. I thought nothing of that comment, until ...

When I arrived at the gas station, Ben looked a little unsettled. He told me "I think someone tried to kidnap me! This guy drove up in a car, and asked if I was from Canada. How did he know? These guys are sneaky here! He didn't speak much English, but kept telling me to get in his car and when I refused, he kept telling me it was OK!"

Needless to say, I laughed my ass off! But this could've had a terrible ending - I could have been leaving the guest house, only to find Carlos crawling back to the house, with a pen sticking out the side of his neck ... What a story to tell! This is the real reason I travel - not to experience new cultures or see faraway lands; it's to have embarrassing stories to torture my friends with, for the rest of our lives!

We wandered down to the pedestrian shopping zone, obviously not for us guys, but for the girls. It was a fairly cool day,

we probably all have goofy smiles, because we are laughing at Ben's "kidnapping".
so it was pleasant sitting outside on a bench, while we waited for the girls to shop at those ubiquitous crap markets that are found in every touristy town. But then it was enough! Time for lunch! The choice today was a Basque restaurant called "Delicias del Mar", run by a local chef who happens to host a cooking show. Unfortunately, there were no Basque waitresses here (i.e. - from Spain!)

Two couples, one from Denver and one from Russia, were sitting at an adjacent table and started chatting with us. The Denver couple was actually of Chilean descent, and they are planning on spending their summers in British Columbia, and their winters in Chile. Nice retirement plan!

We split up, allowing the girls to shop, and allowing us guys to do anything BUT shop. Off to the Museo Palacio Rioja, the former mansion of a rich Spanish accountant, a chap named Fernando Rioja. There wasn't much English info given, so upon finding that I spoke some Spanish, an older lady who worked part time there offered us a tour. It was a good tour, and she asked us to leave a comment in the guest book, giving her a

Vina del Mar - in the background is a place called the "International Makeout Hostel". I should've stayed here! And I'm not actually smiling in this photo - now that my skin has finally healed, it's so dry and shriveled up that it's pulling back on my lips and eyes, giving the appearance of a smile.
good review. I guess she wants to get more hours! The lady was positively prescient, when she said to me - "If you want to improve your Spanish, you need to find a good Chilenita to practice with!" Chilenita basically means "petite little Chilean woman". She read my mind! And I did find a Chilenita, Liszett! But she didn't give me any Spanish lessons, only some TP.

Ben and I walked around a town a bit more, then down to the beach - it was too hot, so we didn't stick around long, as my skin needed no more sizzling. I went back to the guest house to officially check in and get a key, then we wandered down the pedestrian zone to Plaza Vergara, to meet the girls. We wanted to attend a classical concert tonight, so our only option for dinner was fast food. The pineapple juice was great, but the meal was garbage.

The concert was taking place at the Vergara Quinta park, in a huge amphitheatre. Some locals were trying to sell us tickets, but afraid of being scammed, we just bought them at the ticket desk. It turned out that the tickets were probably legit,

We were supposed to stay at the Best Western in Vina, but changed to a hotel in Valpo to get closer to the New Year's Eve action. Ha was quite disappointed, because the Best Western was quite posh. I wasn't - though nice, there were no cuties of Liszett's calibre manning the front desk. Nice hotel with no hotties, or dump hotel with Spanish-speaking hotties - it's a no-brainer for me!
but you can never be too careful.

I believe the orchestra was comprised of students from the University of Santiago, and the whole thing was put on by the local Beethoven Foundation as part of a summer classical festival. Many of the songs were instantly recognizable, but ones whose names and composers I didn't. I zoned out for the first half of the concert, because I had seen churros being sold, but didn't have the time to buy some before the concert started, and thus thought about churros the whole time. During the intermission, I managed to get some churros, but then was distracted during the second half of the performance, marveling at how many churros I just ate, especially since they weren't any good.

Anyway, though distracted, I still found the concert enjoyable - it was a nice way to end our time on the coast. Vina is a nice-looking town with tons of shopping, but not very authentic - I prefer Valpo, warts and all. BH&M hopped in a taxi to go back to Valpo, and I walked to the guest house. The place isn't the nicest, but that could be improved if they hired a hottie receptionist!

Ooh ... a place that sells kebabs! I had hoped to grab some food here today, but never had the chance :(
Maybe Liszett could submit a resume?

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 27



Vina's casino.

Lunch at Delicias del Mar - we started with a Pisco sour, some bread, crappy aioli, and butter.

We had barely even started the meal, and Ben was already trying to get a stain out of his shirt. That stain removal pen was a bit of a running joke on this trip, as Ben had pretty much been using it at every meal, and only a third of the way into the trip, it was almost gone. I, on the other hand, only had to use the pen once. But not because I'm less messy than Ben; in fact, I'm probably worse. But I didn't have any white shirts that would easily stain! Of course, I did wonder - would that stain remover do anything to help my face???

Unfortunately, they were out of chowder - a shame, because it sounded delicious! I opted to start with fried crab claws instead, which were pretty mediocre - bland and dry. The accompanying remoulade was pretty bland, too.

The main course was much better - reineta, with assorted seafood. Razor clams, shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels, regular clams ... seafood overdose! The light sauce was nice, and the dish good, but it wasn't anything special. I'm looking down, so that you don't have to see my crumbling face.

Ben, tired of seeing my crusty, grotesque face, attempted to put me out of my misery using a fork.

Dessert was a Basque apple, the signature dessert of the place. Thin layers of apple, baked with raisins and nuts, covered with a light merengue - very nice, with fragrant flavours. The bitterness of the nuts was an excellent foil for the sweet apples. It was accompanied by a weak cortado that used far too much milk, but it was still OK.

Tri would love this anatomically-correct statue ...

These evacuation signs went up shortly after the big Tsunami in Asia, a few years ago. A tour guide told me they were kind of pointless - Chile is basically one giant coastline, so if a Tsunami ever did hit, they would be screwed anyway.

This might've been the Iglesia de las Carmelitas.

An actual Maoi statue, only one of a half-dozen that have been removed from Easter Island. And no, that's not because of poor lighting - my arms actually ARE that dark. Now that they've healed, they look like the arms of a chocolate bunny!!!

Palacio Carrasco - the sculpture in the foreground is actually a piece called "La Defensa", and was done by the master himself, Rodin. Supposedly, La Defensa was being considered to be part of the Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique in Valpo's Plaza Sotomayor, but it was ultimately rejected. How could you reject a Rodin?!?!??

Museo Palacio Rioja ...

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