The day dawned overcast but our host said it would clear up after noon. A continental breakfast and directions saw us on the way to find a camera. We dropped Gail's camera flying up to the Atacama and she found a Canon dealer in the sister city of Vina del Mar on the other side of the harbor. This turned out to be closed on Saturday but asking got me directions to a large mall. The mall was several floors of gleaming, modern shops and we found a slightly newer model of the same camera and bought it (at a slightly cheaper price than what we'd paid for the old one).
We drove up the coast to see the beaches. Getting out of Vina del Mar involved lots of turns to get past the rivers that flow into the harbor and the road was busy with locals heading the same way. We were disappointed as we discovered the road stayed somewhat inland behind huge dunes (70 to 100 feet high) by the shore. The two-lane road lead through highly industrialized suburbs with oil refineries, metal fabrication factories and processing plants. Traffic moved well after a delay for some construction but it was a good hour before we left the industrial area and neared the coast. Like the weather, the road reminded us of coastal northern California as it wound up and down curving roads following the stream valleys in and out. There are several large beach communities and many Chileans have or rent summer cottages along here, including some exclusive gated developments. We parked at the square of the northernmost town, Papudo, and strolled around the square and down to the beach. The strand was crowded with weekend visitors camped on the beach under umbrellas and walking the cement boardwalks. Along the boardwalks small shops sold beachwear and toys while pushcart vendors sold peanuts, candy and more toys. In one place, a group of Caribbeans (?) played music and danced with enthusiasm to celebrate the weekend. We stopped at a beachside restaurant to share a delicious ceviche as we people watched.
Rather than return the same way, we drove inland and took a freeway south. The weather had cleared up and a hazy sun accompanied us back. The freeway passed through mildly farmed valleys until we turned back to the coast at La Calera. The broad valley between there and the coast was heavily farmed with fields of vegetables and fruit trees spread across the valley and climbed the hillsides. We made our way through the maze of Valparaiso cobblestone streets back to our hotel.
In the early evening (around 8:00, early for the locals), we strolled around the blocks near the hotel looking at the street art and small shops. In the area are numerous small hotels and hostels and foreign and Chilean tourists were doing the strolling. We liked the bistro from last night (Vinilo) so much that we went back again. Over an hour and a half we sipped a huge beer and shared some dishes from the menu while a lone guitarist play a couple acoustic numbers and then the night's main band set up. The wait staff remembered us from last night and chatted with us as they served others. We asked for recommendations on Chilean dishes to sample. We had a Pauela de Choclo that we'd seen last night. This is a baked casserole served bubbling hot from the oven consisting of the large-kernnel, white corn (choclo) with olives, onions, green peppers, egg and cheese - great! Then a Churasca, which turned out to be a thin crust pizza but with local cheese and meat. We topped it off with a brownie with ice cream as the jazz trio began to play. Back at the hotel, we let the meal settle and bedded.
Tomorrow to the cruise ship.Read more