Viña del Mar in the Dead of Winter

We did not book enough time in Chile. We still wanted to see Valparaíso and a vineyard but we were out of time. And so, we booked a day tour… which brought us over the coastal mountain range. Our first stop was Viña del Mar.

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A photograph taken out the bus window. A quick glimpse of a statue on the surrounding hillside.

I’m going to be honest with you. I had not heard of Viña del Mar. I hadn’t paid enough attention to realize that was where we were when this photo was taken:

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I look a little dazed. At least I am dutifully wearing my yellow tour sticker.

As you can see, above the flower-cabbage clock, it says “VINA DEL MAR”. I just wasn’t reading what was super-obvious.

However, I was quite taken with these fancy cabbages:

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So. Viña del Mar is a “ritzy tourist destination”. That is what I wrote in my journal.

“Very touristic,” our engaging tour guide kept declaring.

We recognized this name:

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Liberator General San Martin.

We had first became aware of General San Martin’s importance when we had visited Buenos Aires in 2014. He had busied himself liberating South America from the Spanish. He led the way in accomplishing this in Argentina, Peru, and Chile.

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Viña del Mar is known for its high-rises, senior complexes, retirement communities, and tourist accommodations.

Viña del Mar is a summertime resort town. So our guide constantly lamented the fact that we were visiting during the very coldest time of the year. He kept telling us that these buildings fill up with people wanting to lie on the beach… in the summer. And here we were, in the winter. I was perfectly happy with the wintertime weather though:

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How to enjoy the beach in the midst of a Viña del Mar winter.

Near the beach, you will find a casting of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. There are 28 castings of The Thinker throughout the world. Andrew and I have seen three now. (The other two were in Paris and Philadelphia.)

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We capture our reflection, and thus we now have a photo with The Thinker.

Our next stop was Museo Fonck. This was the scene that greeted us when we stepped off the bus:

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A Moai taken from Easter Island. So weird to see it out of context, after we had just spent four days on the island from whence this statue cam.

I was mostly just fascinated by the other tourists, who were clearly in awe (yes, I blurred out their faces). I would have been in awe too, had I not just been on Easter Island.

We proceeded into a little shop where they pitched to us about why we should buy Chilean copper pots and pans. I am now convinced it is the best thing to buy. However, I myself did not make a purchase. Perhaps someday when I am old, rich, and learn how to cook. And so, I simply wandered the shop, sipping free pisco sours (yum!), before slipping back outside.

Another note. Our tour also took us to a restaurant for lunch. It was called Fellini. Andrew is a cinephile and enjoys the work of Italian director Federico Fellini… and sure enough, the restaurant was decorated with stills from Fellini’s movies. But yeah… an Italian restaurant in Chile that caters to bussed-in tourists. We did not have great expectations. But, we were hungry. And not every meal is going to be an award-winner. Sometimes you just eat the food that is in front of you because it’s there and you need to eat. And so. With our expectations firmly in check, we proceeded to fully enjoy the very average food at Fellini in Viña del Mar. We had a fun lunch together,  then emerged ready to venture forth and finally see Valparaíso.

(Incidentally, I remember at this point that the bus was parked near a casino… from which the tour guide had extract the missing members of our group. The task of a tour guide often seems much like the task of herding cats.)

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