As I mentioned in my previous post, we used Santiago as our homebase during our time in Chile. That’s a perk of having good friends that live abroad! Halfway through our time in Santiago, we took a couple of days to explore other beautiful regions of the country, including the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Zapallar. Here are those adventures:
Valparaiso is a one-and-a-half hour drive from Santiago. It’s a port town on the Pacific Coast and a fun place to explore if you have a few spare days. Another good friend, Fabian, drove us out there and let us stay at his family’s penthouse that overlooks the ocean. I don’t know how we’ve become so lucky, but we are definitely spoiled by our friends in Chile! We relaxed for three days, while exploring the colorful streets of Valparaiso. They call Valparaiso the San Francisco of South America and I couldn’t agree more. The steep streets, hidden gem restaurants, and artsy atmosphere mixed with Chilean culture is an experience not to be missed.
Valparaiso reminded us of a giant favela similar to Rio. Colorful, poor, narrow alley ways, steep streets, open sewers, etc., but the city portion itself is really neat. All around, this is a great city to get lost in, full of so much culture, and so much graffiti art. It reminded us of Sao Paulo in that sense.
The sunsets that Valparaiso blessed us with were absolutely stunning.
We even enjoyed a nice day at the pool, complete with drinks in sippy cups from our apartment! #KidsAtHeart
Being back at the Pacific Ocean felt like home to me, so naturally when we got to the beach, we had to jump in. Yep, freezing just like California. But refreshing to say the least!
And Michael made more dog friends…
While in Valparaiso, we become connoisseurs of restaurants with a view. Here are five of our favorites:
Vina del Mar is next to Valparaiso and another great area with fun restaurants to explore. I suggest spending 1-2 days in Valparaiso and one day in Vina. Then move on. This was a nice time for us to relax.
2015 Bucket List Complete:
- Ride an Ascensor in Valparaiso
- Get lost roaming the graffiti-filled streets of Valparaiso
- Visit the Poet’s House in Valparaiso
- Find a beautiful city and get lost. Explore.
- You can skip the Poet’s house – Nothing special. We were sorely disappointed. Sat to catch our breath from the grueling hike up the steep streets then went to find a bar.
- More dogs everywhere
From Valparaiso, Arnua picked us up and we drove an hour north to a small, quaint beach town called Zapallar. Reminded us of Australia. It was extremely quiet given the time of year; kids were back in school, season was turning to fall, and the town was dead. However, that was fine by us. We didn’t need to go anywhere. And you’ll see why. We stayed at Ignacia’s dad’s beach house in Zapallar, and were completely shocked when we walked through the door. A house like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with a view overlooking the ocean, a pool, jacuzzi, outdoor BBQ, fully stocked kitchen, complete with a giant wine cellar. Oh my! Our own private oasis. It was just what we needed after all of our travels.
Our first afternoon, we walked through town, took another quick dip in the cold ocean, and made more dog friends on our coastal tour.
Then we spent the rest of our time sunbathing on the deck, drinking Sauvignon Blanc (my fav!), reading, and enjoying some R&R. We prepared a delicious BBQ for dinner by candlelight for ourselves for the first time since our trip started. Truly romantic.
That night, I was woken up by the most insane lightening storm I’ve ever seen. For a moment, I thought my eyes were twitching, blinking, then I opened them and the sky was filled with a blinding light. I woke Michael up and we watched from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the living room for 30 minutes. I wish we would have thought to set up the GoPro to capture it, but at 5am you don’t think about much. Instead, we were absolutely mesmerized by the sight. Quiet, bright, all consuming. Literally, a lightening storm up and down the entire coast line, as far as we could see. It was tough to pull ourselves away back to bed because every two seconds another giant bolt would hit the coastline. Part of me feared it would come on shore, but luckily it didn’t.
The next morning was cloudy, some rain, a little rolling thunder in the background, but not as bad as it could have been or as we expected it to be.
Lunch in town, delicious pisco sours and our favorite entrees, Camarones Pil Pil (steamed shrimp with garlic) and Machacas con Parmesana (razor clams with parmesan) — I need these recipes!! The beach to ourselves, more Pacific Ocean submersion, and naturally, more dog friends.
Zapallar looks like the Central Coast of California, from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Cliffs, rocks, coast highway, hidden small beaches. I haven’t felt this comfortable since we left home. A welcome feeling!
We would have loved to stay in Zapallar for another couple weeks, but had to get back on track and on to our next adventure… Pucon!
A HUGE thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Arnua, Iggy, Borja, and Fabi for treating us, sharing your homes with us, and spoiling us rotten so we don’t want to leave your beautiful city. Until next time, SO MUCH LOVE!