Category Archives: solo travel

Exploring More Valparaiso

After returning to the city from our winery tour, the three of us parted ways. I quickly dropped off my bags at my new hostel and left to take in more of the city.

I headed to the port and took a boat ride. While on the boat, I met a family who took me in as one of their own and we continued on a tour of Pablo Neruda’s home.

The boat ride was educational and shared the story of the importance of Chile’s history as a crucial South American port city.

Pablo Neruda still is one of Chile’s favorite people. He was a poet and a bit eccentric as you can see when you walk through his home. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the interior but he loved the water so his home was built as if he was on a boat so out every window it looked like he was sailing.

I mentioned that there was another traveler who moved from our first hostel to the second. Later that evening, she and I met up at the hostel and decided to have Valentine’s Day dinner together in Valpo. No photos but our ceviche dishes were absolutely amazing.


Valparaiso, you’d love it or hate it. Spoiler alert: I loved it.

As I mentioned, I had been warned you’d either love Valparaiso or hate it. Well, Valpo, as it’s lovingly called, was a total win for me. After two nights I loved it and decided to stay longer.

Except when I went to extend my reservation for another two nights at breakfast the next morning, I was told this hostel was booked. So breakfast became quite productive for planning my day and my sleeping arrangements.

First,  I had to make a plan to change hostels since the one I was currently in was booked. It happened that there was another traveler who wanted to stay longer as well so one owner of the hostel made a call and two of us were going to transfer to another hostel.

Over breakfast, all the travelers at the table shared our plans for the day. Mine was not really a plan but I wish that I was keen to visit the wine region. In conversation, I found two other travelers who were hoping to do the same.

And, in nearly one fell swoop, I had one owner calling to find two of us another hostel and the other owner was about to plan the day for the three of us.

Three of us asked the other owner to book us on a tour. He told us that’s not how it works; yet, after making just one phone call, he confirmed that we’d be driven out to one of Chile’s most accessible wine regions, the Casablanca Valley, later that morning.

Planning? Sometimes it’s just for the birds!

 


Adios Vina and Hola Valpo

Cara still had her Spanish classes in Santiago so her long weekend break in Vina came to an end. We had been so busy in Vina the past few days, I hadn’t had a chance to figure out what and where I was headed and I had absolutely no idea where I was going once I left the Vina hostel. Once we all said goodbye I sat down at a computer in the common area to figure out my next step.

What I knew: I had a flight from Santiago to Calama (getting me to San Pedro de Atacama where I would be meeting Alana and Courtney). The night before that flight I wanted to be in Santiago (and would meet up with Cara again) but that wasn’t for a few days so I had a big to do: figure out a plan.

As I saw it, my options were:

Valparaiso / With Cara and her friends, we had spent a few hours exploring the waterfront of Valparaiso, about a 15 minute bus ride from Vina. I could go back to Valparaiso. I had heard you either love it or hate it and I didn’t really get a chance to make my decision.

WWOOF / I had been looking at WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteer exchanges but hadn’t heard back. They don’t check email often which is why you should book months in advance. Fail on my part.

Volunteering at a winery / A contact from NYC who worked in the wine industry had been asking her contacts about volunteer opportunities but it was the low season and each time she emailed she didn’t have any good updates to share.

Santiago / I could go to Santiago early but I didn’t want to spend days in the city.

Stay in Vina / I could stay another night at this hostel but staying was too easy so this option was the least appealing.

I decided I wanted to find out for myself if I would love it or hate it and Valparaiso was my choice. 

Traveling alone gives you as many options as you want. The only person that needs to make the decision is you.

I booked a single room in a hostel/B&B with excellent reviews, wrote down the name and address and logged off.

I asked the front desk how to get there (a bus to a taxi or funicular). With a very loose plan in place (transportation AND a place to sleep for two nights), I thanked the staff and said goodbye and headed out for my next adventure.


Snowboarding with sand

Sandboarding is hugely popular in Vina del Mar. The group I was with was keen to try. After my morning, I was keen to watch.

It’s just like you think – snowboarding except with sand. There are giant dunes and the only way to get to the top is by foot making the climb up in sand a little more difficult than it seems.

Here’s the climb up:

real sandboarders

Me climbing to the top sans sandboard:

sandboarding

Here’s a shot of the actual sandboarders at the top:

the climb to the top

And once you get to the top, and peek over, here’s the spectacular view – well worth the (exhausting) walk up:

the view at the top


Searching for WiFi and a Pleasant Surprise

The next day I didn’t have a plan (shocking, right?). I left with Marissa when she left for work. I planned to find WiFi and possibly find a wine tour, which all left super early. My search for a café with WiFi took longer than expected so I didn’t order anything until I could confirm a WiFi connection. I felt that the lack of WiFi was synonymous to my current situation and compounded the loneliness I was starting to feel.

When I finally found a successful WiFi connection, I ordered another submarino. If you have the opportunity to try one of these most delicious hot chocolate-like drinks, I highly recommend tasting one.

Finding out all the tours to the wineries had left for the day I was convinced that I was SOL for the day. I sent a note to local Couchsurfing hosts in Mendoza to see if anyone was around because I was up for anything.


Malbec and tablecloths, oh my!

I dropped my bags and Marissa and I headed out for dinner. We went to a real, honest-to-goodness restaurant; including tablecloths! We didn’t take but one photo but we toasted glasses of Argentina’s own Malbec and laughed at the absurdity of the whole situation. The portions were huge so we took our leftovers to go and in turn learning a new phrased while asking for it to go, para llevar.

After dinner we did get onto our respective computers and Skyped, she with her sister, and me with the boyfriend. We each waved to the other’s Skyper so that if we wound up murdered or missing the next day, the other family would know who did it.

Thankfully, we both awoke and she headed off to work and with no plans, I headed out to wander and explore more of Mendoza for the day. Until it would be a socially acceptable hour to meet Marisa at the Vines … again … for Mendoza’s finest libations.


And then … The Pool

I returned from my shopping and sightseeing adventure, put on my bathing suit, grabbed a book and I spent the rest of the day here. Delightful.

pool area 1

Truth be told it was a little lonely. Here I am in this gorgeous hotel in a pretty city and I was all alone. This was truly the first time I was alone. There wasn’t a single soul upstairs with me. At least in a hostel I would have had an easier time making friends. But I chose to spoil myself with a good night’s sleep and properly flushing toilets. But it was gorgeous.

The rain came early evening and signaled that my pool time was over. I went back to my room, and found this. Look carefully.

pillow menu

Yes, it’s a pillow menu. The other side actually had a little map laying out the pillows and identifying which pillow on my bed was which. I hadn’t even eaten dinner yet I couldn’t wait to go to bed! I showered and got ready for dinner.

I walked over to the small bar and had a glass of wine and chatted with the bartender. The hotel had a few guests but they were older and all going out for dinner — they were dressed much nicer than my nicest (and newest addition to my wardrobe).

I figured since my room was just down the hall, I could splurge and have two, or even three glasses of wine.

There wasn’t so much a restaurant as a few tables scattered outside the very small bar. I was the only customer at the bar, and in the restaurant, so I figured I would grab my laptop (since there was WiFi!), catch up on what was going on in the world, and figure out my plan for the following day.