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Rambling Chile

Chile, the richest country in South America, is a modern and organized country with a northern desert, sunny beaches, and the mountainous landscapes of Patagonia.  Be prepared to pay significantly more money for food, accommodations, and shopping items, which will pay for the modern amenities that Chile has to offer.

After countless days of camping in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, we entered Chile a bit starry-eyed.  “You’ll never guess what they have in there,” I said to Nick as I walked out of the gas station bathroom, “toilet paper, a mirror, soap, a light, AND a hand dryer!”  To have even two of these items, if any at all, was a rarity during our time on the road.  Chile’s standard of living closely resembled the States, and suddenly, looking at my greasy hair and dirt stained cargo pants, I felt a little out of place.
 

ANTOFAGASTA
We spent Christmas Eve in this port city of nearly 300,000 people only because it was located on our route south.  Antofagasta is a pleasant town with a clean beach and numerous hotels, however there are little unique attractions or tourist-oriented locals I recommend to visit in the area.
 

TALTAL
Taltal is a quaint coastal town with a leafy plaza and a low-key atmosphere.  Only small businesses populate the area, and activities include strolling around town and relaxing by the rock-lined water.

We arrived in Taltal on Christmas Day, and fortunately found Hotel Plaza, a bed and breakfast facing the ocean.  When entering town from the north, take a right onto the main beachfront street, and look for a light blue building.  The owners, who had just opened the hotel a few months ago, were extremely friendly and were happy to allow Domino in our room.

 
Hotel Plaza
Calle Esmeralda 442
Telephone 055-611070
www.hotelplazataltal.cl
Private Bath, free breakfast, cable, gymnasium, wifi, and parking
28,000 pesos ($56 USD) per night

 

 

VALPARAISO
Valparaiso, Chile’s sixth largest city, feels as if it leapt out of a book of fairy tales.  It’s cobblestone streets, which wind up and down the city, are lined with brightly-painted, cottage-like houses, cafes, and boutiques.  The graffiti, which adorns numerous walls, corners, and sidewalks, serves as beautiful works of art, showcasing the colorful imaginations of the scores of creative minds that live within the city.

Valparaiso is a world heritage site, a port city, a college town, an artisan’s haven, and a picturesque vacation spot all in one.  You can amble along it’s curving streets, dip into the nearest cafe for an espresso, or feast on a cheap but wonderful seafood lunch above Mercado Puerto.  While it touts a list of tourist recommendations, such as touring Pablo Neruda’s house or the cathedrals, meandering the streets of Concepción, Valparaiso’s historic barrio, will possibly be your favorite activity.

 

VIÑA DEL MAR
Viña del Mar, a beach resort town that focuses on it’s pristine boardwalk and people watching under the shade of colorful umbrellas, is the ritziest town in Chile.  Locals flock to it’s sandy beaches, and are willing to pay top dollar for a hotel room that overlooks the water.

We camped in the municipal parking lot along the beach for over a week, which was a great spot to relax.  To read more about pirate camping in Viña del Mar, read Nick’s post for recommendations.

TIP: Viña del Mar is an expensive area.  Be prepared to pay higher prices for groceries and restaurant meals if you plan to stay in town.

 

 

 

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