I’m devoting a whole separate blog to Santiago side trips because I didn’t have room in my Santiago blog for them. That’s piss poor editing on my part. This is a short one, so enjoy.
A few highlights of my time just outside Santiago:
This little town is a short drive from Santiago. It’s known for its pottery, which mainly consists of lots of ceramic pigs. It’s also known as the world record holder for largest empanada ever. This fact was far more exciting than ceramic pigs. While I didn’t have the world’s largest empanada while I was there, I’m certain I could work magic on it.
Valparaiso is a port city about 1.5 hours away from Santiago and the second largest metropolitan area in the country (after Santiago). Once an important stopover for ships after they passed around Cape Horn or through the Strait of Magellan, Valparaiso went into decline when the Panama Canal opened. But the city found a bit of a renaissance when its historical centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and tourists began flocking to see it. I took a free walking tour which gave an excellent history of the city. The colourful houses that fill the historic centre of the city were painted with leftover paint from fishing boats. Boat owners painted their boats bright colours to help avoid accidents in the area’s thick fog. The homes are mainly constructed of corrugated metal leftover from cargo containers. The containers were filled with rubbish and used to balance ships passing around the treacherous waters of Cape Horn. They were then dumped in Valparaiso and the locals took advantage of the free materials. Valparaiso is also home to lots of street art, the oldest Protestant church in Latin America, and the oldest Protestant church in Latin America that was allowed to have a cross on it (before that, only the Catholics could advertise their churches).
While in Valparaiso, my friends and I visited La Sebastiana – the Valparaiso home of Pablo Neruda. I mentioned in my last blog that Pablo Neruda – the famed Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet – also had a home that I visited in Santiago. In fact, he had three homes. During my visit to two of these three homes, I began to question just how good Mr. Neruda actually was. He was a communist and was a friend of communist president Salvador Allende, but Allende’s work during his time in office included taking homes from the rich that were deemed unnecessary or too big. Yet, Neruda was allowed to keep his three homes. Interesting. It left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as I put two and two together. Aside from this, his house in Valparaiso was gorgeous. It was nautical themed due to the poet’s love for the ocean and had sweeping views of the city and the coast beyond.
Viña del Mar:
Adjacent to Valparaiso lies Viña del Mar. While Valparaiso is a bit gritty in places, Viña del Mar is an upscale, more residential city. It’s beaches, promenades, and restaurants were reminiscent of Miami.
And that’s all. See, I told you this was a short blog. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll start drafting a much more important blog: one about Chilean food. But first, let me take a selfie.
To see more photos of my time in Pomaire, Valparaiso, and Viña del Mar, see my Santiago photos linked from the last blog.