If you missed Part 1 of my Chile trip (Santiago and wine country), check it out here!
If not, let’s keep going!
We arrived in Vine del Mar after our wine tour and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Oceanic, which I had found online with great reviews. It wasn’t quite in the heart of town, but it wasn’t far and it supposedly had amazing views and great service. And at $150/night it seems like a steal. Where in America can you get an oceanfront 4-star hotel with breakfast included, for $150/night? Nowhere.
The reviews did not steer us wrong. The hotel was amazing. I had sprung for an ocean view room and it was seriously a dream. The climate and landscape were similar to California, which meant no bugs. There was a huge window you could open up and basically feel like you were at the beach.
The hotel is basically built on top of some rocky cliffs right on top of the ocean. We kind of just pretended they hadn’t had a tsunami warning just a month prior… because… well… we’d definitely be wet.
We went for a little walk to stretch our legs (there was a nice stretch of public beach and boardwalk about 1.5 miles away, and an awesome sidewalk/running trail all the way down there), and then headed back to the hotel. We were all pretty pooped after the wine tour and still not quite having made up the sleep lost on the flight, so we did something you should never really do on vacation, especially in a wonderful foreign country. We ordered pizza and ate at the hotel. The concierge was so nice and opened up the hotel restaurant (which was closed for Columbus Day) for us and set us up with plates and napkins (after calling in our order since none of us speak any Spanish). So from the first night we got there we knew they would be super accommodating and great. We had a great sunset view with dinner, too!
The boys were slated to arrive the next day, and we woke up all excited when we looked out our windows and saw the aircraft carrier pulling into the bay. They wouldn’t be off until afternoon, so we went on a run (Vina del Mar is super health conscious and everyone is always out running and exercising at all hours), got breakfast and then walked into town to explore.
And then they got delayed… and delayed and delayed and delayed. We got lunch and then ice cream on the beach. All while watching and waiting. We headed back to the hotel and laid out on the deck in the sun. Watching. Waiting. Ha!
It wasn’t until after 7 that they finally made it to the hotel, but they were worth the wait. Nick and I had dinner at the hotel restaurant (which was just OK, not one of their stronger selling points) and called it another early night.
The next day was quite rainy. After breakfast, we grabbed a cab and headed out to explore Valparaiso, which is about 5 miles from Vina del Mar. While Vina del Mar is cleaner, safer and more of a beach resort town, Valparaiso is colorful, full of character and much more quintessential South America.
Throughout the city there are a bunch of old “ascensores,” little elevator-type thingies that take you up the steep hills so you don’t have to huff it! We found one to ride, just for the novelty of it. It ended up being like 30 cents a person. Worth it to not have to hike in the rain!
We took it up to Cerro Concepcion, an area with lots of little shops, restaurants, and colorful graffiti art. It was a fun place to just walk around and take in the sights. It was very European with its cobblestones, rustic charm and little cafes all over.
After exploring a bunch and having lunch, we headed to the natural history museum. It was pretty much 100% in Spanish so we didn’t learn a ton, but it was free to get in and still kinda fun to look around at all the exhibits on a rainy day.
After that it was time to head to meet up with a group for the one and only planned activity we had scheduled. A Chilean cooking class! We did the class, which was all in English, through Chilean Cuisine Cooking Classes. It was seriously one of the most fun nights we had on our whole trip! The night definitely deserves a whole post of it’s own, so you’ll just have to wait for that. But the short version is that our host took us to the markets to shop for ingredients, and then we cooked a 6-course Chilean meal, plus the Chilean national drink, Pisco Sours. It was so great! Stay tuned for the full recap!
The next day the sun was shining, so Nick and I took a morning walk up to Renaca, a beach town just north of Vina del Mar which was about a mile and a half from our hotel. It’s supposed to be the best beach in the area, and even though it was a chilly spring day there were a few people laying out and splashing around.
When I spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts, I couldn’t believe it. How is it possible that Chile has Dunkin’ Donuts when California doesn’t?! It’s just wrong. So I had to stop in and get a coffee. It was a pretty big letdown, but it was still fun for the novelty.
We walked around a bit more, then headed back south. Unfortunately Nick had to work a duty shift that night, so after dropping him off at the port, I hung out and explored Vina del Mar a bit more with friends.
The next day was Nick’s last day there so we spent the day exploring Vina del Mar some more. Nick got some Chilean beer, and we both got burgers the size of my head.
It was another overcast day, so we warmed up at a little cafe with hot chocolate… and this kukiccino Nick ordered… a cookie cappuccino!
Our last dinner together, we finally tried conger eel, which is super popular and served everywhere in Chile (or at least on the coast where we were). It was like a juicy white fish and SO yummy! A great way to end our trip together.
Another colorful girls’ day in Valparaiso rounded out our trip.
And then… it was time to say goodbye to Chile and embark on our 27-hour (from hotel to my house) trip home. It was such a great trip, and worth every dreadful second of the travel time. Now I’ve got the travel bug again! I’ll tie up the loose ends of the trip soon with my cooking class recap!