“ Address: Viña del Mar & Valparaiso / Región de Valparaíso / Chile „
Day trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar
We booked this trip through Viatour prior to leaving for our holiday as we knew we only had one day to fit this trip in and I really wanted to visit Valparaiso having read about this city in the Isabelle Allende books which I enjoyed.
You can probably book various tours through your hotel or while you are in Santiago but we didn't have the time and this looked like our best option. W didn't want to visit the vineyards as we had done that on a previous trip and to be honest it was not that great. Many trips to Valparaiso include a stop at the vineyards which is not surprising as you do pass them all on the way.
W had to reconfirm our trip the day before by phone but as we were in Easter Island we sent an email instead. We were collected from our hotel at about 8 am by our driver/ guide, the one person only. We were the only two on the tour so had the little mini bus to ourselves. The guide was pretty good, not overly talkative like the one who collected us from the airport twice. He did point several sites of interest as we dove through Santiago on our way out. His English was excellent which was fortunate as our Spanish is not!
We drove through the framing area and the vineyards and he pointed out all the major famous Chilean vineyards including Concha Y Tora which is the one we visited on our previous trip to Santiago, don't bother it was awful!
About half way there we stopped at a small local restaurant called 'Los Hornitos' or 'Little Ovens' which was very pleasant, very Chilean and we were given a drink of chicha to try and then we had a coffee each before heading on our way. I have written a review on Los Hornitos on this site if you are interested.
We also stopped at a little church which was famous as a pilgrimage centre where people come to pray for healing. It was really quite tiny but rather sweet and called Lo Vasquez Sanctuary. This church is a reconstructed version of the original was had been built in 1846 as that one was destroyed in an earthquake in 1906. Every December this pilgrimage takes place from Santiago to this little church and make a 'manda' or promise to God to give thanks or ask for something. I think the 7th and 8th od December might be a good time to avoid driving to Valparaiso unless you want to see this festival as tens of thousands take part.
As we arrived in Valparaiso the guide told us to look out for the typical view of the many coloured houses on the hillside. We drove through the city with the guide pointing out various sites but not stopping at all until we came to the Funicular lift or Ascensor.
At one time there were nearly thirty of these funicular lifts taking residents from the city and port up to the more residential areas on the hillside. I believe there are eight still in operation these days. They were originally built in 1892 and have obviously been upgraded and repaired and were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998.
Inside the one we went in was a bit cattle truck like. Wooden and rough with windows quite high, broken and rather dirty and all in all it was looking its age. From the outside though it was much more attractive with external bright coloured painting. The main attraction was its novelty value and the very worth while view when you reach the top. As you leave you pass through several local stalls where you can buy drinks and food as well as souvenirs. The stall holders were not at all pushy and we just walked straight passed them and out onto the area outside .
At the top there was a view point which looked a bit like a bandstand, a market with lots of stalls, there were toilets which our guide pointed out; they were okay not great but clean enough and served their purpose. We then had about forty five minutes to walk around and take some photos of the lovely coloured houses in the streets around.
After our walk around we got back into the mini bus and made our way to Viña del Mar . We were supposed to visit a Chilean poet's house but as it was Sunday this was not open. We made our way along the sea front of Viña del Mar and truthfully I was not that impressed. It was a typical Spanish sea side town but we couldn't get along some roads as there was some parade or festival which meant getting around was made quite a challenge.
WE drove the entire length to reach a rocky view point which was not that exciting but gave us a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy some sea air as we had twenty minutes here to wander around. From here we were taken to a restaurant in Viña del Mar on the sea front called Los Pomairinos for our lunch. Once again I have written a review on this restaurant on this site if you want to know more about it.
After our lunch we then headed up to yet another view point. In my humble opinion this was a waste of time as it was overcast and not that attractive and the actual spot where we viewed from was a mess and building site.
We then made our way to a little shop where they made glass ornaments and jewellery. I bought a ring which was quite pretty and also cheap s it was only bronze and copper. The rest was stupid money but they had very nice clean toilets!
We then asked to be taken somewhere we could buy some water before we headed on our way back to Santiago. We didn't stop on the way back but had we needed to I am sure the driver would have done as he asked if we wanted to go straight back or stop.
The drive is pretty much along a motorway so quite quick. Had we been in the area longer I would have like to spend a little longer in Valparaiso. I could take or leave Viña del Mar personally but it would have been nive to wander around the city in Valparaiso and see a bit more of the place but I suspect parking is an issue as it was very crowded as we drove though.
The trip cost quite a lot in my view about £100 each and did not include anything in the way of food. I think if I had known that we were only going to spend such a short time in Valparaiso I would have planned a night here but as our trip was already getting very expensive we were trying not to add in too many more nights in hotels that were not really needed.
Anyway I have seen the city and now can picture it when I read 'Daughter of Fortune' and Isabel Allende's other books which is what inspired me to see Valparaiso. If you are visiting Chile I would suggest longer than a day trip if you have the time
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.