One of the main reasons why I love to travel is to satisfy my curiosity. I want to know what other places look like, how people live their day-to-day lives and what the local habits are. I love to just stroll around and take in the atmosphere.
This is why I much prefer to stay with locals rather than in a hotel or hostel. So when I get the opportunity, I will literally travel half-way round the globe to take advantage. When my sister-in-law's family invited me to stay with them in Santiago de Chile, it wasn't long until I booked my ticket.
In Santiago I enjoyed the famous Latin hospitality and I felt right at home. One of my fondest memories of my time in Chile was a day I spent with my sister-in-law's cousin, who took me on a day trip to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.
The two cities are worth a visit, but my favorite part of the day was taking a walk along the coastline from Vina Del Mar to Valparaiso. It combines a great lunch, a stroll along a beach, coffee in an old train carriage, watching Sea Lions and Pelicans share a strange stone structure in the sea and enjoying one of the best sunsets I've ever seen. Here are the details.
Have lunch at Caleta Portales
Caleta Portales is where the local fishermen bring in their catch of the day. The fish is either sold on the market or prepared in one of the fish restaurants. Choose one to your liking and enjoy the fresh fish!
Relax on the beach
Right next to the restaurants is a spacious beach. There is no better way to digest your food than to lie down in the sand, walk long the shore and maybe even take a quick dip in the ocean, although the water will be quite cold.
Have coffee in the slowest train in the world
From Caleta Portales head south along the coastline towards Valparaiso. After a short stroll you'll see what looks like an abandoned train carriage. It's locally known as the El Tren Mas Lento Del Mundo, which translates to "The Slowest Train in the World." There is a cafe inside. If you're lucky, someone will be playing the piano.
Watch Sea Lions and Pelicans
Although you can spot Sea Lions anywhere along the coast, there is one particular place where they like to hang out. Near the harbor, you'll see a concrete structure, randomly placed in the sea. The Sea Lions seem to enjoy pushing each other off the edge. Pelicans watch the scene from above, peacefully resting on top of this stone skeleton.
Watch the sunset
Before you head into Valparaiso, make sure you wait till the sun sets. The view of the big ships anchored outside the port and the harbor in the back make for a great scenery.
The easiest way to get to Vina del Mar is taking a bus from the main terminal in Santiago, Terminal Alameda. It's right next to the metro station Universidad de Santiago. The trip takes 1 1/2 hours and takes you to Rodovario Vina del Mar.
Have you been to Chile? What was your favorite experience?