17.01.2014 26 °C
John, our host, suggested we may like a drive to the coastal town of Maullin.
It was on the way to the ferry to Chiloe and on the same highway we had done twice before, but we decided to check it out. We were hoping to do some hiking in the area but the bugs have us turned off the idea unfortunately.
The first town was a typical small Chilean town and we talked to some locals and sat in the park by the lake for a short while.
We headed to the next town which was on the Pacific Ocean. The bay was dotted with many colorful fishing boats and quite picturesque.
Lunch was in order so we stopped at a small store and purchased cheese, bread and ham. There was a policeman in the store and he gave us directions to a larger beach close by to have our picnic.
We drove to the end of a road and found a wide expanse of sandy beach before us.
There were no picnic tables so we ate our lunch of sandwiches, cucumber and carrot in the car and were entranced by the many different birds that landed on the sand in front of us. Some looked like they belonged to the falcon family.
Only a few others were enjoying the beach, a couple of families with young children playing in the waves. I put my feet in the water, but as is our west coast ocean, the water was quite cold. We didn't see any indications of life on the beach other than birds. No small crabs or even kelp. Just sand and beautifully colored smooth rocks with fossils.
Tall cliffs bordered the beach and it looked like the trees on the crest would topple down at any moment. We walked to one end and found two young men in the water harvesting what we think were mussels from the rocks in the water.
I really enjoyed walking barefoot on the sand for a while, it was warm and felt great on my feet.
This evening was spent down by the lake enjoying a wonderful dinner and the view of Osorno volcano. The temperature is up to 24C today and the lake was packed with families enjoying the water.
We had planned to just spend our last day here hanging around town, but Theresa, our hostess, suggested heading north to the hot springs. As the morning was cloudy and drizzly we thought it might be a good idea.
We should have stuck with our original plan. It was a much longer drive than we had anticipated with the many delays due to road construction and never did get to the hot springs. The sun came out and it got very hot so the allure of the hot water was not so inviting any more.
We got as far as Entrelagos, bought some picnic food and went to the lake to have our lunch before headed back.
This evening we walked back into town and Doug had some Chilean sea bass which he said was amazing. I had some tomato soup which was really good as well.
Our last evening sitting by the lake and enjoying this lovely little town of Puerto Varas before heading back to pack our suitcases for our flight north in the morning.
We are going to miss this amazing breakfasts that Theresa prepares for us in the morning. Fresh plates of pineapple, mango, strawberries, banana and other fruit, eggs and toast start our day off well every day.
Today we were joined by a fellow who was a fishing guide from Montana and came to do some fishing with John. John is also a fishing guide and people come for catch and release of trout and other lake fish. It was great to talk to him and find out about his travel plans in Chile, all based around fishing.
Our drive back to the airport was uneventful, we didn't get lost which is always a bonus, and the car return was easy.
Our flight to Santiago arrived at 1:30PM and after collecting our bags we took two busses to get to the town of Valparaiso, two hours to the west.
First impression of the town. Dodgy at best. But bus stations are usually not in the best area of town.
The centre is near the port and in a flat area. All the homes are on the hills, some would say the cliffs, above the town.
We found an area for taxis and I show the cab driver my hand written name of the b and b and street name. He shook his head. Did not know it. He drove off.
A man who had a sign around his neck saying he was a taxi guy came to help. I told him where we were staying. His English was great as he had lived in Calgary for a few years.
He proceeded to tell us that the B and B was in a bad area of town, a terrible place and a longs ways off from the centre and on a very steep hill. No taxis will go there.
I said, well then how do people get there?
He said, no one stays there. It is a terrible place.
Well this is not my first rodeo and I have been at train stations and bus stations in other parts of the world where they tell you the hotel burned down etc. so they can send you to their brothers place. The reviews of this B and B were outstanding so I did not back down. Although I did wonder...
We finally found a taxi that would take us there and the home was just fine. The woman who ran it was lovely and the room, although very small, was clean and charming.
Our hostess does not speak one word of English once again. After checking in we took a map and walked down the hill into town.
First impressions of Valparaiso? Still dodgy. But colorful and lively. A port town.
We walked for a couple of hours and then stopped at a local restaurant for some dinner. It was a very bizarre place called the Mastodon. It had very strange decor but the place was packed with locals and the food was good and prices cheap.
Valparaiso used to be the busiest port in South America until they built the Panama Canal. Cruise ships start or end here for trips around the tip of South America, The Horn.
Vina Del Mar is the next town north so we walked down the hill and took the train (metro) for the short 20 minute or so ride. Our stop was under the ground and when we came up the stairs to the street we we so surprised to find a big modern noisy city. Somehow we envisioned a sleepy little beach resort town.
Completely unprepared for this we walked blindly for a while until we found a tourist center and got a map and some instructions of where to go. It was very hot walking to the beach but in half an hour or so we came to the waters edge and what was very obviously the tourist area.
Horses with carriages were lined up waiting to take you for a ride along the waters edge as were souvenir sellers and the many sidewalk cafes. We stopped to cool off at one of them for a cold drink and a snack and then continued on to the swimming beach area to look.
There are many lovely parks in the cities in Chile that we have been at so far, and Vina was no exception. We found a bench in the shade and just watched people for a half hour or so. Lots of young families were enjoying the playground and bike trails as well as having a picnic lunch and escaping the heat like we were.
We made our way back to the metro and arrived back to Valparaiso where we climbed the hill back to our B and B to konk out for a few hours.
Tonight we found a very small cafe with traditional Chilean food which Doug enjoyed and I had a very nice salad. More chilean grapes were purchased from a sidewalk vendor to enjoy in our room.
There are two dishes that are very popular in this area, especially with the younger people. One is called Chorrillana and is often shared. It consists of a huge plate of french fries smothered in different kinds of meats in gravy, sausages, and then all topped off with two eggs sunny side up.
The other is a hot dog with lots of avocado, tomatoes and then I thought it was topped with melted mozzarella , but it is thick with mayonnaise.
Needless to say neither of us tried either one of these.
We were joined by two Ozzies about our age for breakfast this morning and we had a great conversation. They are traveling for 6 months and have been to Ecuador already so it was great to get some information from them.
There is a walking tour of Valparaiso so we high tailed it down to the meeting place and arrived just before the departure time of 10AM. There were five other Canadians on this tour. Two are from Chilliwack and on our cruise tomorrow, and the other three from Calgary. They have a brother who is racing in the Dakar race, which unfortunately for us, ends here tomorrow right near the cruise ship terminal right around the time we are supposed to be there.......hmmmm. We will have to do some homework on that.
The others were American and three young girls from Uruguay whom I talked to. They did not speak much English but I was asking questions about where to go in Uruguay and got some great ideas.
The tour took 3 1/2 hours and went to places we would have never seen on our own. We both love walking tours as they consist of small groups and you get to see places that the busses cant get to.
As I mentioned Valparaiso is on a series of steep hills, so we climbed a few of them up some narrow streets. We also rode two funiculars up and then would walk down. All in all we had a really wonderful morning. Our opinion of Valparaiso has changed dramatically, and now we can see the charm of this port town.
On our way back to our B and B we stopped at a vegetarian restaurant and had lunch.
It is very hot today and by the time we climbed the hill back home we collapsed on the bed in our room and lay in front of the welcome breeze from the fan.
Our last night in Valparaiso and in Chile, except for on the cruise. The folks from Calgary told us that they ate at a restaurant that we passed on our tour and that it was fantastic.
We flagged down a cab and he dropped us at the museum at the top of the hill on the other side of town.
I thought I remembered where the restaurant was, but I was wrong. We wandered up and down the hills for about an hour and things were getting a little tense between us.
We were on the verge of giving up and voila....there it was. Complete fluke as we were no where near where we thought it was.
The patio overlooked the harbor and the furnishings and decor were beautiful. It was a very high end and expensive restaurant but we didn't care at this point. Luckily we were able to get a table without a reservation and both had the best meal we have had for a long time.
Doug had a curried shrimp and rice dish and I had a vegetarian gluten free lasagne that was the best I have ever had.
They called us a cab and we arranged with the driver to pick us up again at our hotel tomorrow to take us to the cruise ship. Hopefully it all works out okay.
I won't be posting until around the 2nd of February now as internet on the ship will be very slow and extremely expensive.
We will be able to check email and face book once a day, so would love to hear from you.
Our cruise leaves Valparaiso tomorrow night and heads south, around Cape Horn, past some glaciers and then over to the Falkland Islands. From there we continue north ending up in Buenos Aires on Feb. 01.
Thanks for coming along with us on our South American adventure.