Chile: Valparaiso to Viña del Mar

After lunch we wandered around the Valparaiso port known as Muelle Prat.  Spanish explorers arrived here in 1536, on the Santiaguillo, a ship sent by Spain’s Diego de Almagro who is considered to be the first European explorer of Chile.  The first pier was built in 1810 (a building stands there now), the harbour became a base for the navy and soon opened to international trade including supplying ships during the California Gold Rush. The city became a major stopover for ships crossing the Atlantic & Pacific oceans by the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn and many immigrants entered Chile through this port.

Valparaiso is arguably the most important Chilean seaport though San Antonio, to the south, is the largest in terms of freight handled.  The combined area of Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Quilpue and Villa Alemana, referred to as Gran Valparaiso, is the 3rd populous in Chile –  after Gran Concepcion and Gran Santiago.

Valparaiso (called Valpo by Chileans) is the birthplace of both Augusto Pinochet and Salvador Allende.

There was a lot of activity and colour around the port….

We browsed the various market stalls and bought myself a hat because my sunscreen was wearing off   – I hate wearing hats but I could feel my face starting to burn and we were about to go to the beach …    IMG_7827-001

We caught the train to Viña del Mar which sits on the Pacific and is known as  La Ciudad Jardín” (“The Garden City”).  Some say that Viña del Mar was the focal point for plotters of the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat.   We were amazed at how shiny & sparkling the station was and how incredibly clean the train!  It was a pleasant ride along the coast and it was only a 10 – 15 minute trip.

There are actually only 2 subway systems in Chile  –  the much bigger Santiago system and Metro Valparaiso (called the Merval).  The Merval is a one-line system; 43 km (27 m) long with 20 stations serving Gran Valparaiso.  It was inaugurated in November 2005 – there had been a less reliable system in place before that.

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16 responses

    • Yep, the navy is based here. There are little boats you can pay to joyride around the port and someone told me that when the little boat gets out nearer the warships you’re not allowed to take photos of them. Not sure how true that is considering you could stand on shore with a big telephoto lens….

  1. I don’t know how you managed to come home without stuffing a suitcase full of things from the local markets. I’m a sucker for handbags and handmade toys, so it doesn’t take much to part me from my tourist dollars!

    That said, did you keep the hat? I don’t mind wearing one as long as it fits properly and it’s not windy outside, requiring that I keep one hand on the hat. But unless they’re the knitted or fabric kind, it’s hard to pack one in a bag. I’ve crushed so many straw hats, I shouldn’t be allowed to have them, lol.

    • We saw some fabulous wooden toys in a market in Santa Cruz – though I don’t know if I’d have parted with them if I’d bought anything and managed to get them home. I’m trying very hard not to buy things everywhere we go as the house is so cluttered now – I love my “stuff” but I’m running out of shelves to put things on.

      Yes I did bring the hat home – sort of crushed but it would be wearable. I have about 5 or 6 hats that I’ve bought in similar circumstances and once I get them back here I never wear them again. I’m more into slathering myself with sunscreen and staying in the shade than wearing hats. And in winter I wear ear-muffs instead.

  2. Pingback: Chile: Back to Santiago & Adiós Chile | Aussie Emjay's Blog

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