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Day 3 – Valpariso and Vina Del Mar

(Saturday August 24th)

At 9:00 am the same guide picked us up again. There were three young Colombians on the tour with us, none of whom spoke any English. That phrase book was going to come in handy.

Valparaiso street market

Valpariso is a port city, and was of major strategic importance as a stop-off point before the Panama Canal was built. Nowadays, it is visited by many cruise ships in the summer. In the winter, it seemed to be full of Chilean war ships. There are many very tatty boats that look like small trawlers, but now contain rows of seats for tourists. One was loading up while we were there – I have never seen so many bodies on one boat! It was cheap ($2,000 Chilean or $6 NZD) but I don’t think I’d have felt very safe on it. Just by the town square there is a large statue dedicated to Arturo Prat, famous as a captain of the Esmerelda during the war with Peru, and a very brave man. «Wikipedia link». There’s also a town hall that reminded me very much of ones that I’ve seen in Spanish towns.

We also visited one of the houses of Pablo Neruda, a famous writer, poet, politician and diplomat (according to the plaque on the wall). We were told we’d be there about 10 minutes (to see the view) but the three Colombian guys decided to visit the museum too. An hour later we were still waiting for them…. I was not impressed. If we had known that we were there for longer, we’d have gone exploring down the local streets, which were very photogenic.

I had a chat with the guide, and asked him if he would give a definite time to be back in the future. Everything was a tad too ‘laissez faire’. Then it was off for lunch in Vina Del Mar (which is just round the coast). The drive from Valpariso runs seafront, and is quite spectacular. The beach at Vina del Mar is golden, crescent shaped and long. We were driven to the far end, then dropped off at a local restaurant for lunch.

Now here I’m going to have a gripe. And if any tour operators are reading this, please take note. One of the biggest rip-offs (IMHO) is where innocent tourists are dropped off at restaurants where the menu is overpriced and they are a caught audience. In this case, the cheapest meal at this ‘family restaurant’ was the grilled chicken ($4,800) with French fries ($2,500 extra) and tip added on as a matter of course. That’s $8,000 Chilean ($36 NZD) for chicken and chips! Anything else (fish, steak) was from $7, 500 upwards. What a rip-off. And to rub salt into the wound there was a café opposite that did a ‘Menu del Dia’ for $3,900. Probably not gourmet, but it would have done us fine.

Tip 5: If you don’t want to eat where the guide sends you, don’t! I wish we’d been braver and walked out.

Valpariso Colour

We had a very short stop at a small museum, which had an Easter Island Man’ outside it. As this is the closest that Art is likely to get to one (we’ve investigated visiting Easter island but the flights are extortionate) we took a photo of him posing with it.

Last stop was a small park, with a very dilapidated small white palace, and a large arena. Now here Art and I had a minor tiff. While I was taking photos of the dilapidated palace, he wandered off. Apparently he decided to head for the arena. But he didn’t tell me! I looked round after a few photos and he was nowhere to be seen. So I spent most of my time sitting on a park bench waiting for him as I thought he’d eventually discover I was missing and come back to the last place he’d seen me. Wrong. I eventually walked back to the bus on my own, to find that he didn’t realise I’d be worried by the fact we’d lost each other! Men!

So it was back onto the bus so that I could sulk on the 1.5 hour drive home. We arrived back at 5:30 pm.

With only $3,000 Chilean left in our pockets after our expensive lunch, we hit the local supermarket for a very poor meal of bread, soft cheese & tomatoes, and a small bar of chocolate. I hope all you tour operators are feeling guilty about sending us to an expensive restaurant at lunchtime!

Santiago Summary

Santiago definitely falls into the ‘Been there, Done that, Didn’t buy the T’Shirt, Wouldn’t pay to go back again’ group of destinations. But if we had to stop over for a couple of days again, we’d probably rent a car and head straight out to Vina Del Mar.

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holidays/abroad/peru/day_3.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/25 12:28 by art
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