Dec 21, 2011

Chilly Waters and Warm People in Valparaiso, Viña and Concon

It is time to continue my solo trip, heading for the central coast of Chile. Being Valparaiso the more pintoresque town in the area, I booked my stay there, and decided to try the hostel thing again after more than ten years.

Jorge and Sergio, the guys at the hostal (Casa Valparaiso) were very nice and super friendly. I did not go as far as sharing a bedroom with ten other backpackers, but got me a private room instead to get some "work" done, and honestly for plain comfort. Excellent breakfast, pisco sour nights, and above all, great socializing with both locals and other travelers. That is what hosteling is all about. Although is best to avoid having to socialize with some negative, nagging, and pain in the ass travelers, staying in a hostel remains a good deal.

My first impressions of the neighborhood and the hostel were not positive. Everything looked really aged and almost dirty.  After strolling around town for a couple of hours, I realized that this unique look, is part of the appeal of this town. A place filled with tons of self expression and shocking contrasts. 

As much as it is artistic,
Street Theater 
It is an important port for Chile,

Valparaiso's harbor from Almirante Mirador
With a lot of bohemian history and 100 plus years old bars and restaurants,

Chorrillana dinner at Casino Social J. Cruz

A lot of tourism,

Tourist boats take people for $4 USD to cruise the bay.

and a pretty large college student population.

It is not a place for everyone; in most cases people either love it, or hate it. I loved certain things about it, but I have to say that besides being a photographer's paradise, the one thing I could not get over was how ran down and dirty a lot of it looked, and how ghostly many parts of it seemed at night.


Elevators are still effective means of transportation

But only a few elevators remain working.
Art in this town is everywhere: in every house, every alley, every park, every bar and restaurant.




My friends Santi and Alvarin from Miami, would certainly go nuts here !

Valparaiso certainly has a lot of character, it breaks the mold of Santiago in every way, and it is for sure on a league of its own. 


On total contrast, and only ten to fifteen minutes from Valparaiso, Viña del Mar is this clean but almost stereotypical beach resort town. One thing probably worth visiting in Viña, is one of the restaurants near the main square where they serve this double beef-frank, avocado-filled, cheese-spilling hot dogs, that by no coincidence are known as "Completos".

That wetsuit must be thick ! The water is too freaking cold !

Further north from Viña, there is a small town called Con Con. It lives up to its fame on regards to seafood. Although, you can find excellent and fresh seafood everywhere around the coastal region, Con Con's little shacks and huts make a nice place for lunch of crab filled empanadas or congrio eel soup, or maybe both. 

So I ended up the day, strolling from beach to beach all the way back to Valparaiso.

For the next day, I met up with Anna who I had met in the Isla Magdalena tour, while freezing going to see the penguins. She had made it to Valparaiso the day before, wrapping up her old people's cruise. Ha ha ! Just rubbing it a little more Annita ! 

We spent the day doing not much at all, having great sushi for lunch and chilling at Reñaca where my favorite beach in the area is.

My favorite thing about these beaches, is that both stray dogs and pure breeds roam free, play together and seem so happy and relaxed. A dog's life, a cliché says...

When did these simple ways stop being a human's life too?