CONCON and VIÑA DEL MAR

Days spent: 1
Days recommended: 1

What we ate: fried empananadas (you can have some pretty amazing filling: crab and cheese, marisco -seafood- and pino -beef, onions, raisins, olives and boiled eggs- were probably our favourites. @ fried empanadas specialists Las Deliciosas in Concon).

What we drank: Pisco sour.

How we travelled: by public transport from Valparaiso (less than 40 minutes ride). Fun fact: 10 AM. Bus crowded with grannies. Pumped up techno music.

How many km we walked: 10

Issues we encountered: Apart from almost sandboarding straight in the ocean, none.

Would we recommend it? If you want to take a break from your Valparaiso exploration and you fancy a bit of a change in activities and atmosphere, why not!

Analogue tips: the light on the sand dunes of Concon is so incredibly bright. Pretty much snow effect! Pick a low iso film and bring pocket size and resistant gear (I challenge you not to fall while sandboarding!). My LC-A+ did a perfect job.

What to do:

  • Sandboarding in Concon. I spotted the dunes on the horizon from our rooftop in Cerro Bellavista (check the Valparaiso logbook) and pretty much instantly decided that we could have made a daily detour there. Right after a series of posh skyscrapers by the Ocean, the dunes are a great spot for a couple of hours of good fun. Rent a board for less than 50 cents, climb up the dunes, pull the straps around your feet and get ready to miserably fall and end up as breaded as a chicken McNugget. After weeks you will still find sand in your ears and shoes (and other places where sand is not contemplated).
  • have a stroll in Concon’s surfing village. After stuffing yourself with fried empanadas, take the chance to burn some calories and take a look around. If you feel sporty and want to challenge yourself, you can also try out one of the surfing schools on the beach. After the sand boarding efforts we felt like we had done enough physical activity for the day…
  • Viña del Mar. Santiaguinos’ getaway from the city buzz and the total opposite of Valparaiso, Viña doesn’t have much of artistic relevance but it’s the right place if you’re a bit of a mall-rat or if you fancy a promenade walk in French Riviera style. Me and Isa found its almost maniacal order not very attractive, however, spending an afternoon there and witnessing its striking contrast with Valparaiso made it somehow worth it.

Things we missed: a surfing class in Concon.

SANTIAGO

Days spent: 3
Days recommended: 2

Where we slept: private double room in central, social and modern Hostal Providencia

What we ate: pichanga caliente (a platter to share, made of fries and fried meat, topped with gherkins and tomatoes) and camarones al ajillo (shrimps with garlic, a South American must!) @ colourful and loud, locals-favourite Galindo in Bellavista neighbourhood. Deliciously creamy and highly addictive, handmade icecreams @ Emporio La Rosa -raspberry with mint and dulce de leche were our absolute favourite flavours-. Chilean empanadas and mote con huesillos (a traditional Chilean non-alcoholic drink/snack made with peaches in syrup and wheat) at whichever street stall. Chilean ceviche. Galactic juicy burgers @ Mr Jack.

What we drank: Escudo beer

How we travelled: by public transports (mostly tube), elevators and by foot.

How many km we walked: 43

How Santiago affected our wallets: food is quite expensive. Public transports and accommodation aren’t.

Issues we encountered: we were told by quite a few fellow travellers to avoid arriving after dark at the bus station because of how dangerous it was, so we just made arrangements to get to Santiago before sunset. We got targeted and chased for few minutes in Cerro Bellavista in the evening but found a way out by reaching a crowded street.
We were there for Xmas Eve, Xmas and Boxing Day and, unfortunately, most of the museums and restaurants were closed. Something to keep in mind if you’re travelling in that time of the year.
Lastly, Santiago was doubtlessly one of the most polluted city we visited in South America.

Would we recommend it? A capital city surrounded by the Andes isn’s something you see on a regular basis and there’s definitely something charming about it. Especially at sunset, when the mountains turn pink. I cannot say that we fell for it, but why not making a stopover here for a couple of days?

Analogue tips:
I was supposed to drop some films for developing and scan in Santiago and I was recommended to pay a visit either to Migo or to Photolab. Unfortunately they were both closed for the festivities.

What to do:

  • Cerro Santa Lucia. A hill covered in gardens and grottos in the centre of Santiago. It offers 360° views of the city and a good spot to chill out and find shelter from downtown’s chaos.
  • Barrio Lastarria. Where hipsters hang out. Quiet, cozy and artsy. With several cafes and small restaurants, cool yet unaffordable shops, and street stalls selling artists’ various creations. Don’t forget to grab an ice-cream @ Emporio La Rosa and enjoying it while strolling around Parque Forestal.
  • Downtown. Very chaotic and packed with people, but also very entertaining. Mostly because, in a matter of few metres, you can bump into crazy old ladies lip-syncing to melancholic classic for coins, breakdance performances, political demonstrations or religious parades. Being there for Xmas eve sort of added an extra bit of spice, I guess. From Plaza de Armas you can join a free walking tour which will take you around most of the city and tell you everything you need to know about Santiago’s history, Chilean current stable economy, Pinochet’s dualism, earthquakes in Chile, etc… Don’t forget to check out Centro Cultural de la Moneda for some free art exhibits and interactive contents (we saw a Picasso collection and then played light painting).
  • Cerro Bellavista. I bet you won’t be leaving this neighbourhood without unawarely shaking your hips to the sound of a reggaeton hit. Loud music, party vibes, shots bar at every corner. This is the place where everybody seems to be when it gets dark. If you dig deeper (a lot) you might actually find some authentic tavern.
  • Cerro San Cristobal. One of the city highlights. Jump on the elevator which takes you to the sanctuary. Climb the stairs through the rose gardens and reach the feet of the gigantic statue of Virgin Mary. At this point, try your best to ignore the religious litanies that, unfortunately, are played 24/7 and enjoy one of the best views you can get of Santiago.
  • Barrio Patronato aka Koreatown. Missing a bibimbap, some kimchi or some (even) cheaper shopping? Go for it!

Things we missed: Sky Costanera’s (the tallest skyscraper in South America) rooftop and city view, Cementerio General de Santiago (Santiago’s monumental cemetery), Museo de Arte Precolombino, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Who deserve a big thank you: Daniel and Claudio for the tips.

LC-A+, Agfa CT Precisa 100 (35)

Canon EOS 300, Fuji Velvia 50 (35)

Olympus OM-10, Kodak ProImage 100 (35)

22/12/16 – 24-25-26/12/16, Concon, Viña del Mar, Santiago (Chile)