Days 302 – 305 – December 29th – January 1st, 2014/15.
Vina del Mar is the next town that connects with the port town Valparaiso. Valparaiso which used to be one of the busiest ports in South America prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, which had a huge effect on all the ports around the bottom of the continent.
So is Vina del Mar worth a visit?
First of all lets just say this, if you are in Valparaiso then yes it’s certainly a must. It’s basically a 10 minute bus ($2.00 AUD) or taxi ride ($15.00 AUD) from Valpo as the locals call Valparaiso, or you could even walk it.
The bus is the way to go and there are many to choose from, getting the right one might be a challenge as we found out. The ride started off in the right direction but then took a right turn and another, that’s when we got off… and got a colectivo. What’s a colectivo you ask?
A colectivo is like a taxi, but the difference being they are shared rides for a set fee. We took one into the town of Vina del Mar from near where we stayed for a 1,000 peso per person. Someone else could have joined us along the way and paid the same, that’s how they work.
They look similar to taxis but have the fares printed on the windscreen.
Where we stayed was basically the end of Valpo and the beginning of Vina. To the right of our apartment we could see all of Vina del Mar. It’s not a hilly as Valpo and has none of the quirky acensors or funiculars, and also little sign of wall art. It does have a long waterfront with a beach or two.
This was our place for three nights. Not the tall pink building the one in front…
Our place in Vina del Mar we found on AirBnB
Unfortunately for us our place didn’t have any Internet (another story) and so we had to walk into town and find a place with wi-fi. Close by is a cup cake cafe which was open where we were able to get online for the few days staying here.
At least we could check in online and answer emails.
In the afternoon we walked into town from our place which took an hour and half. The walk takes you along the shoreline which it shares with the main road and the metro. You can also walk the back streets which is what we did the on the way back a day earlier.
This beach appears as you make your way around a slight curve.
The bay in a half-moon which goes as far as the eye can see is dotted with apartment blocks and houses along the slight hills as the landscape curves its way into the distance. This is the view from our balcony in Vina.
In typical south of France style, a Sheraton hotel juts out on the corner before the vista continues. We walked into the hotel for a snoop around, they were setting up the function room for NYE dinner and the outside pool area had nice views.
Flower Clock in Vina del Mar
Just before the hotel is the famous Flower Clock. You can’t miss it really as it is very colourful and attracts a small crowd of tourists getting their photos.
With it being the festive end of year, the place is very busy, the beaches are full and the town likewise. Hotels and restaurants line the way each vying for that perfect view of the bay. A restaurant in the shape of a ship, another right on the sea wall next to the Wulff Castle. And many more which have awesome views, but at what price I wonder, knowing all to well that the fees are humongous at this time of year.
Continuing on from the Sheraton on the corner, the road hugs the rugged coast and our walk continues towards town.
The sea bashes right in to the beach front and at one point it sprays all over the path onto the road.
The Marga-Marga river in Vina del Mar
The sea is held back by sand and the water really does rage in here. It is the mouth of the Marga-Marga river which is very dirty, almost stagnant and full of rubbish. You can walk across the mound of sand to the other side or take the walkway and over the bridge.
The other side is home to the Vina del Mar casino which holds prime location right in town, along with the fast food giant Macdonald’s. The parks are full and it’s a party atmosphere, with lots of stalls selling all sorts of NYE gear.
You can keep walking and walking and I bet there is much more to see, however it was time to turn around and head back home for us. The main reason why we were visiting Vina del Mar was for the New Years Eve fireworks display.