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Patagonia state of mind – Part 2. Valparaiso and Vina del mar

The next day, on 27th of December we woke up early in the morning to go see vineyards in Colchagua valley, Montes in particular because of it’s new Apalta winery designed with Fengshui. ^-^ We’ve ordered some Montes wine earlier in Autumn and really liked it’s subtle and fruity taste. This trip was the reason we stayed more than 2 days in Santiago. As always, yours truly tried to avoid paying big fee to the tourist company that organized wine trips and went to the bus terminal to find a bus that would take us there. Unfortunately, none of the buses went to that direction. I realized that out of two main bus terminals in the city, we chose the wrong one. The guidebook wouldn’t say which one to go to. All the buses went to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar instead so without wasting our time on the logistics we decided to change our plans and go to Valparaiso – “Paradise valley” instead. Later, I was happy to find out we made the right decision as Montes vineyards were closed for public viewing because of the holidays. ^-^ If you do decide to go there, either rent a car or go by bus but stay overnight in Santa Cruz because the trip takes a lot of time and energy and the vineyard won’t help you organize it.

This is me just outside of our hotel, ready for the day trip! I like this picture because all you can see on the background are trees. That’s how an alley supposed to look like. Tall, beautiful trees on both sides. That’s what a room view should look like, not gray concrete walls or train tracks like our flat in Tokyo..

Tur Bus is one of the reliable and save transport companies in Chile. We used it on more that one occasion and were never disappointed with its services. In fact, that was the bus I left my postcards in – the ones that found their way to me after two months of traveling.

On our way to Valparaiso we passed huge vineyards in Casablanca and Maipo valleys – famous for their Cabernet and Carmenere grapes. Yay, we could have a glance at wine making business after all and with all the wine tasting in Puerto Natales later, I think we didn’t miss much by not going to Apalta!

When we arrived to Valparaiso we were immediately stricken by abundant use of colors everywhere.

It used to and still is one of the most important seaports in Chile and because of it’s role in the New world trade, it attracted many immigrants that created this bright-colored, eclectic paradise and left a unique imprint on the city’s architecture. Now, Valparaiso is not only a big cultural center in South America but also World heritage.

The brightest spot “Zonas Tipicas” is situated on the hills. It’s a pretty tough way up if you are on foot and without a sunscreen. ^-^ Pablo Neruda’s summer residence is on the most remote hill to the West. We didn’t go that far but did a thorough look around Cerro Concepcion.

This is a scene right from the movie. A local craftsman is sitting in front of his house and work on some pieces while humming a song. It cannot get any better because as perfect as it looks it is also authentic. He is not there because someone is paying him to be a fake tourist attraction. He is just there because he is a part of this bohemian paradise.

It really took my breath away to see all these scenes of every day live in a place like this.

A cactus in front of a colorful residential building with 24h security sign..

Laundry in the courtyard, little dog house next to withered staircase…

An old tire placed at the dead end of the street giving you a story to imagine. Everywhere you look, it is a perfect movie scene – perfect in its authentic unpretentious way.

That’s one of the few cafes that were open in that area. At first we tried to find a sandwich shop recommended by the guidebook but after we saw it closed, we settled on Con Letras. Inside, the restaurant looked like a travel book library with many bookshelves, music racks and tables filled with maps and guidebooks.

It was too hot to sit outside so we took a table right next to the bar. Everything was made out of wood except the walls that were made out of tin with old photos hanging on them.

With Japan’s criminal deprivation of milkshakes, I seek it anywhere else. Whenever I go abroad, I drink milkshakes, lots of milkshakes, sometimes two or three at a time. ^-^ This one is a cherry milkshake and it was GOOD!

I was two days wiser this time so instead of ordering couple of quesadillas like I would do in Tokyo, I ordered just one and yes, even one came in a huge size so I could only eat half…

After lunch, we headed further in and around the Cerro Concepcion. This is the Lutheran church, one of many iglesias in this area. There are Anglican and Catholic churches as well – another example of eclectic imprint of its former population.

There was a vegetable market right in front of the church steps. Young tanned macho where playing Latin tunes on the radio and dancing right next to the tables with artichokes and onions. ^-^

I took about 200 pictures of various houses – each absolutely unique in it’s design. These are my favorite, colorful and romantic, each telling a story about it’s inhabitants.

This to me, belongs to an old woman who used to know glory back in her days. She had a hard time parting with her beauty and all the attention she used to receive. Only when she got old, she realized she is not so good at being alone or taking care of herself. She spends days at home flipping through an old photo album, sometimes going out to sit in the sun and greet people passing by. ^-^

This house looks well maintained and in color with my favorite purple hydrangeas growing all around it. To me it looks like a boarding house or a small hostel run by a European family.

This yellow house with white ornaments reminds me of Russian dacha. These colors are very typical for summer houses outside of St.Petersburg.

Valparaiso is the city of artists and you can see it everywhere you look – literally, the art is everywhere. These graffiti on the walls of most of the houses in Zonas Tipicos are well-thought, carefully crafted masterpieces that represent various city scenes. One of my favorite graffiti is this girl with a seagull waiting for a ship to come. It reminds me of the drawings I used to send to my father’s ship, asking him to return home safely.

This graffiti is huge and the air-spray work is amazing.

I wouldn’t mind having this drawing on the walls of my house. I’m actually thinking of air-spraying my dacha or at least our storage house..

We took a climb up to Plaza Bismarck for a breathtaking view on the city and then visited the old cemetery.

After a 5 hour walk around the hills of Valparaiso we went down to the port and took a brand new line to Vina del mar – an ambient resort town with many beautiful beaches and celebrity retreats.

It was too hot to stay on the beach with our sunburns so we walked along the shore, glanced a bit at the city’s main square with tall palm trees and took a bus back to Santiago.

The next day, we took a plane to Punta Arenas and finally began our trip to Patagonia. Stay tuned for part 3. ^-^

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. samuel #


    I’ve reach your blog accidently on google. I live in Valparaiso and it’s nice to see that you liked it.

    Cheers from Valparaiso, Chile.

    May 30, 2011
  2. Thank you Samuel! You live in a wonderful city – so inspiring! ^-^

    May 31, 2011

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