After two great nights on the ocean, this morning we loaded up the car and hit the road for our next destination, driving south along the coast, through the towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.
Viña del Mar (“Vineyard of the Sea” in English) began in 1874 as an estate with ocean-facing vineyards. After Chile’s 1906 earthquake forced residents of Valparaíso to relocate to Viña del Mar, the area became a city of its own. Today it is a glamorous place known for its glitzy casino, tons of shopping, beautiful beaches and beautiful people, you know, just the place for a family of two wild boys to spend some time. We drove through the city along the coast taking in the sights.
Next we headed to Valparaíso which was founded in 1543 and during the 1800s became one of the greatest ports in the South Pacific. This hilly, seaside town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved architecture and its funiculars (called “asensores” in Spanish) used to travel up and down the city’s hills. Poet Pablo Neruda had a house in this bohemian city.
We parked near the port, walked around the city a little and then rode the Asensor Concepción up the hill for a great lunch overlooking the harbor. The city reminded us of San Francisco with its oceanside hills and artsy feel.
We got back in the car and drove south to Santa Cruz, in the Colchagua Valley – Chile’s wine country. It looks a lot like the Central Coast wine region of California.