I went to South America: Day 1
…and now I’m finally going to write about it.
This is so, so, so late and I’m not apologizing or making excuses, but I finally felt inspired. My friend and I spent almost 2 weeks in Chile and Argentina. Our roundtrip tickets were through Santiago, Chile and we spent less than 24 hours there, but I would go back! The majority of our time was spent in Valparaiso, Chile and Mendoza and Buenos Aires, both in Argentina. If anything, I learned on that trip that I would love to go back. I can’t believe there were two more continents of trips after this and I still haven’t written. So I’m kicking off today with a post about my favorite part of the trip, Valparaiso, Chile.
My arrival in Chile was not what I expected. My friend and I were on different flights out of LAX and her flight was delayed until she missed her connection. I’d already taken off so I didn’t know I’d have 24+ hours on my own in Chile until I’d landed in Lima, Peru 8+ hours after departing Los Angeles. It was fine, I just had to gather my wits and figure out transport on my own immediately. Landing in Santiago in the wee hours of the morning and being bombarded with taxi drivers wanting to drive me to the bus station was a bit overwhelming. But I coped by hiding in the ladies restroom for ten minutes to freshen up, then bought an espresso and a croissant and ate it in the airport, standing at the counter, like the locals. :)
I finally put on my bravest face, bundled up for the just below freezing temperature, and walked out of the airport to find the local bus (which was simple!) to the bus terminal where I’d buy a bus ticket to Valparaiso, on the coast. Both tickets altogether were about $12 and the ride to the terminal was 10-15 minutes and very full, then the bus to Valpo was about 90-100 minutes and through the mountains! I slept for most of it but enjoyed the views I did see.
Departing Santiago and driving to the coastal city of Valparaiso, I felt like I was in California. The vegetation, climate, hills and mountains, brightly colored homes, and the entire vibe reminded me of San Francisco. Upon arrival at the Valpo bus terminal, I hired a local taxi (no ubers there, or chain hotels) I felt even more like I was in San Francisco. My taxi was about $8 from the main terminal to the Hotel Fauna (NOT walkable) but the rest of the city absolutely was. I loved Valparaiso so much. It was charming, colorful, artsy, laid back, and a beautiful coastal city.
Hotel Fauna was so cute and cozy. The nightly rate included a full breakfast each morning in their lovely rooftop terrace with amazing views of the city. The hotel was very central for walking and near historic landmarks and points of interest and was located next to one of the public transport elevators (ascensors) of the city.
Sadly, I cannot remember of the first place I ate lunch, as I was still somewhat in a travel fog. It was good, I remember eating fish with a delicious creamy quinoa dish - I don’t think I’ve ever described quinoa as delicious - so that is notable. The best part about it was that I was on a patio in the sun with crisp weather, drinking a lunch time beer, and eating fresh fish from the ocean while a local cat kept me company. I’m pleased that I remember nearly every other meal we ate in Chile and if I think of the name of this restaurant, I’ll share it.
I got my bearings after lunch and explored the lovely city to stretch my legs and see some sites that I could make sure we revisited when my friend arrived. I also went on a walking tour with Tours for Tips, the Valparaiso Highlights tour, and thorougly enjoyed the guide, the tour, and the group of tourists. I found it particularly cute when the guide asked me where I was from and when I answered that I was from Chicago he said “ahh, the north.”
As mentioned above, my other meal was at Fauna Valparaiso, the rooftop restaurant within the hotel. I ate there several times and every day for breakfast and never had a bad meal. The view and service were great. I sat outside on my first night for my early dinner and after finishing my meal I ordered a second glass of wine and read my book while enjoying the view under a heater and blanket and was still a little chilly. It was a good if unexpected first day.