Valparaiso to Pichilemu- beach break! 19/10 – 5/11

From our eventful week in Santiago it was an hour’s bus ride to Valparaiso.
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Valpo, as the cool kids call it, so I won’t anymore, is a port city just west of Santiago, that is famous for both its street art, and the ridiculous way the city spread over the surrounding hills. These combined give it a very unique appearance, that either appeals or not, as it does often have the look of a shanty town; a bit grimey and rough around the edges. We took it as charming and settled in for a two week stay.

Another workaway placement, we were resident at Hostel Casa Valparaiso,
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where in this case we had a double room, breakfast and dinner as well on work days in exchange for a evening reception shift every other day. Egg got a very easy ride here due to his Spanish muteness and occasionally folded sheets whilst I did the reception work, which in itself want to challenging either. The hostel isn’t massive so you get to know all the guests and a lot of the time all that was needed was to be around to help guests out and answer the phone/door so even when I was working I spent a lot of time eating, chatting, watching TV etc. We were very lucky to find this place and everyone was so nice and friendly it was a really nice time.

Everyone was also Chilean,
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with pretty much nada in the way of English so all the communicating with our bosses was in Spanish. The guests were probably fifty fifty English and Spanish speakers. I was really pleased at how I coped in my new Spanish only environment and the first time I checked in non English speakers I even allowed my self a jubilant Facebook gloat. I felt it was earned as I had handled a call from the tourist board, dealt with one walk-in and one booking, explained all the hostel stuff and the map and key sights of Valparaiso and learnt a new word (candado, padlock!). This was definitely another really worthwhile workaway experience.

So, what did we do in our spare time you ask? Well, egg took more Spanish classes and I built on my newly acquired fondness for jogging. We walked a lot around Valparaiso and did a tour with the same company as in Santiago (tours 4 tips) but this one was really good, I recommend it to anyone visiting the city. We also went to the cultural centre, which is a converted prison- not much was happening but it has a nice open grassy space in a city that is sometimes lacking good picnic areas.
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The open air museum is an area of town that commissioned twenty or so murals on its buildings, which are for the main part residential, a few years ago but when we looked around we were a bit disappointed as there were more exciting pieces all over town. The area that hosted the first south american graffiti festival on the other hand was incredible, really vibrant and fresh. This part of town is also where the most exciting ascensor is, ascensor Polanco. Acsensors are all over town, and they are just little funiculars ferrying people and down the hills for 20p a ride. They’re kind of fun when you get fed up of leg cramp but Polanco stands out as it is the only vertical one, which makes it more interesting to look at.
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Our favourite bar here was Fauna, which had this big terrace with views over the whole city so it was great for watching the sunset.

When we got to the sunniest day we went 15mins by metro to Vina del Mar, which had a couple of really good beaches and a lot of pelicans.
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Vina is very pretty and this was the first combination of good beach and good weather in south america.

Oh, also here I had the most amazing chorrillana. Again!
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A big greasy pile of chips, onions, eggs and meat meant for two and devoured by me. The place we went to, J Cruz, is a complete dive and a lot of fun and is supposedly the place they invented the dish, but who knows.

So sadly we left Valparaiso and headed to Pichilemu, via Santiago. We were lucky to get a bus as it was a four day weekend in Chile and everyone was headed to the beach so after arriving in Santiago we were greeted by sold out signs in all the booths that go to Pichilemu. Luckily, something funny was going on with one of the companies and having enquired and looked desperate a couple of times some one approached us and told us the companies only sell the top deck in advance so we hurriedly plomped ourselves down stairs on the bud and hoped we had understood. We had, thankfully and we were off!

Now realising this is a really long post I shall cover Pichilemu in a separate one…ooh the suspense!

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Also this post, I fell in love with almendra confitada (candied almonds), egg tried his first mote con huesillo (wheat drink with dried peach), I made my own postcards, we learnt running up hills will hurt you the next day, I learnt to crochet, and we played with plastic animals.
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