A few weekends ago I ventured off to Chile. Chile is a long narrow country in South America, home to famous wines, a desert and of course Patagonia (shared with Argentina). Like many of its neighbors, Chile was not immune to dictatorship in the 20th century and itself saw some turbulent times under General Pinochet following his coups against Allende. But today Chile is a vibrant country and I was shown the ropes by someone who had studied abroad there and knew his way around.
Over all, I enjoyed the trip. I think I liked Valparaiso better than Santiago, and if a direct comparison between Santiago and Buenos Aires, as many people seem to compare the two, I would prefer Buenos Aires. One thing is for sure though, the wine is delicious, plentiful and wont break your bank.
- Arrive in Santiago in the morning after a red-eye from the U.S.
- Take a Turbus (right outside arrivals) from the Airport to Terminal Alameda Santiago bus stations.
- From here we bought tickets and transferred to another Turbus to Valparaiso on the coast of Chile, buses to Valparaiso run very frequently (multiple departures per hour) from this terminal.
- 2-Hour bus ride through Chile to the coast.
- Arrived in Valparaiso just after noon, walked from Valparaiso bus terminal to Francia metro stop to take the local train to Puerto Station at the end of the line. The line runs between Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar. Stopping along the way to grab some Sopaipillas for breakfast from a street stall.
- A few blocks from Puerto station past the Plaza Sotomayor and military base, is a historic Fisherman’s bar called La Playa, serving beers, seafood and light bites to eat, you walk in and you are transported back to 1908 when it was founded. Here I ordered some Seafood Empandas and a seafood stew as well as one of the many local beers, Cristal. This is a quintessential Valparaiso experience, as it is where the local fisherman of this fisherman’s village (now industrial port) gather!
- After lunch we took the funicular, Acensor el Peral, one of two operational funiculars to reach the hilltops of Historic Valparaiso.
- Right by the funicular station is Palacio Baburizza, an art museum housed in an Art Deco mansion built by an Italian-Chilean immigrant. The art housed inside are mostly by local Chilean artists and many parts of the house, including original bathrooms and fireplaces are preserved. Well worth checking out and the art-deco touches are incredible. There is an entry fee.
- From there we walked up the steep hill, Valparaiso is like San Francisco, to La Dulceria, a candy shop. Here we sampled some Chilean sugar candies, and I got myself some Pisco Sour flavored ones which were delicious. The interior here is also whimsical and fun, and if you time your visit right you can see them making candies fresh!
- From there we simply took a leisurely stroll through the steps and hills of Valparaiso and I admired the large amounts of murals, mosaics and street art that make this hilly Pacific coast city so vibrant and colorful.
- We arrived at the famous “We are not Happies, We are Happies” mosaic steps (featured image on left), but it was packed with people so we kept going to return later for some necessary Valparaiso shots. NOTE: on google maps, search for Upla (Faacultad de Arte)
- Further downhill is another famous set of steps, the Piano Staircase, at the foot of Iglesia Luferanza de La Santa Cruz.
- With lots of time to kill before our return 8PM bus, we decided to have some rooftop Pisco Sour and Beer. There are plenty of choices when it comes to rooftop dining and drinking in Valparaiso, all similarly priced and all equally crowded on a nice sunny day like when we were there. We settled on Taulat. Ordered Pisco Sour and Kuntsmann dark beer.
- Knowing that most restaurants would be closed on Sundays throughout Chile, my friend insisted I try a national dish, so we walked downhill to Mastodonte Restaurant to have Chorillana: fried topped with sausage, pork, cheese, grilled onions and fried eggs. Paired with a pitcher of local Valparaiso beer. It was delicious, but you best be hungry.
- Finally, we walked to Bellavista Station at sunset to board the train to Baron, from which a 5 minute walk takes you to the Valparaiso bus terminal where we boarded our return bus to Santiago.
- We returned to Santiago at around 10PM, from the bus terminal we took the red line metro to Universidad Catolica and walked to our AirBnB, centrally located in Barrio Lastarria.
- After settling down we crossed the street to Bocanariz for some wine flights and snacks. Delicious wine and many wine flights to choose from, all comes with 3 wines, and they start at $9! I ordered two flights and both were incredible as well as a local Chilean cheese platter.
- Then we called it a night.
- We woke up around sunrise at 7:30AM and proceeded to hike up San Cristobal hill. This was a very nice way to start the day with vistas of all Santiago and the golden hue of dawn as the city woke up. At the peak we visited the Virgin Mary statue and had ourselves some Monte con Huesillo, a Chilean beverage, peach juice/tea with husk oats and a canned peach.
- We then hiked down and took the Green line 5 metro from Baquedano (by Plaza Baquedano, where major protests and historic events happened) to Quinta normal station. Right outside the station is Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Which documents global human rights violations but mainly focuses on the timeline of human rights abuses and victories during Chile’s Military Junta days under Pinochet. An excellent museum and well-worth a visit, we ended up spending around 2 hours here with the free audio guide. Lots of information and documents and artifacts and worth taking your time. No pictures allowed inside.
- At the entrance to the subway station we grabbed some Completos (Chilean Hot dogs) before hopping on the subway to Plaza de Armas.
- From there we walked towards La Moneda Palace, the presidential Palace of Chile that Pinochet partially bombed and where Allende committed suicide the day of the Coup on September 11, 1973.
- Afterwards we walked back towards our AirBnB, about a 20 minute walk, where we stopped at a corner mom/pop shop to grab some Empanadas with pork, olives and half a boiled egg, delicious. I then popped into Emporio La Rosa, supposedly one of the top 25 ice cream shops in the world according to a sign in their shop. Had some Dulce de Leche and Strawberry Mint ice cream, delicious.
- Finally, before heading back for the airport, we stopped at a bar in Barrio Bellavista (Where the bars and clubs are) for a national cocktail, Terremoto, made with pipeno (Chilean riesling of sorts), pineapple ice cream and grenadine. And the other Chilean beer, Escudo.
- We then took the metro back to the bus terminal before purchasing our ticket for the bust to the Airport for our evening departure back to the U.S.