Living la Vina Loca

Somewhere in this blog I have a post describing myself as living like Lindsay Lohan, and earlier this week at the Orly in Santiago, I felt that way all over again.  The M.A.S. South American version of the Chateau Marmont, my luggage exploded all over the junior suite we snagged as an upgrade at the hotel.  Since then I’ve been slightly more tidy, but not much else has deteroriated in terms of the glam quotient of this trip we’re on.  The central Chilean coast is some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen, and we’ve been living it up from private homes to hotels built into cliffs overlooking the ocean to hotels perched along the boardwalks of Chilean resort towns.  Think Hamptons, Atlantic City, Venice, CA and Miami all interspersed along an absoluting stunning coastline that is public and accessible and filled with vacationing Chileans, Argentians, and the occasional gringos (that’d be yours truly).

I’m in Vina del Mar at the moment, en route to Valparaiso shortly.  Vina is really cool.  A city with real personality.  The boardwalk and beach is crowded with Chileans and vibrant.  There is so much public space, parks, etc. here and everwhere we’ve been.  Chile seems to emphasize this.  It is quite impressive.  As you walk away from the hotel, along the water south, and cross over a bridge, and it feels more urban and local, the main local shopping district, etc.  Not as touristy.

It’s amazing that these are summer holidays.  The water is icy cold / the kind that makes your ankles and feet ache immediately, and it gets cool at night / light pants and sweaters.  It is like CA.  Hot in the day, cool at night.  Santiago is not far, b-w one and 2 hours, so if you came to Vina for the week you could also go there. There´s also vineyards all around Central Chile, and more coast south of Valparaiso to explore.  So you could do a lot of day trips from here, but you´d probably want a place with a pool for any swimming, since only polar bears like the other half of the M.A.S. can go in this water. 

This is really a nice vacation. This country is easy to navigate, and the people are polite, helpful and honest, if not overly friendly. There are hardly any English speakers anywhere, though we just met a family from Alabama at a tapas bar.  Random.  The father looked like my dad would, like he was there to support his kid and making the best of it.  Paying bills, etc.  But the pinched look on his face and his later admission that he was dying for an english language newspaper reminded me that were my dad in his shoes, he’d be calculating the minutes until he was back to his Herald, Globe and WEEI sports radio.  There is also a casino in this town, quite glam, but I haven’t been inside to win my tuition for the spring. 

I am not crazy about the food, an emphasis on seafood, but not the stuff I’m used to, more prawns and conger.  It´s ok.  But really a stunning country, and the exchange rate is roughly 2:1 (Chilean:US).  

We are cruising in a tiny red Fiat – go rojito go! – and it makes getting around quite fabulous.  The best place we’ve stayed so far is a tiny, absolutely gorgeous and fancy town called Zapallar, which means “gourd squash” in Spanish, though our guide book isn’t quite sure why that’s the town’s name.  Homes built into the hills completely naturally, making use of natural materials, rather than pouring concrete down the side of the mountain as I imagine Americans would be incline to do for their steps to the beach.  Public art adorns a lot of places, and I cannot wait to get some pictures up on line.  Could even be an occasion to embrace the Flickr masses. 

We are off to Valparaiso now, a city foreshadowing the future of New Orleans, I think, as it has only been partially redeveloped since the biggest earthquake on record kicked its ass about 10 years ago.  You’ll probably here from me again from Santiago, and it’s a good thing, cuz where’s my guest blogger????  Cruising in the turquoise queen, no doubt.  

Happy New Year, for the last time!! 


2 Responses to “Living la Vina Loca”

  1. 1 Amy
    January 4, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    Most importantly, how did the self tanner go over??

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