The threadlike impression of Chile on the map stretches from the tropics in the north to the cold windswept seas around Cape Horn in the south. Despite being an arid country it is filled with orchards, vineyards, and rich vegetative land. I happen to visit this beautiful South American country during my summer vacation from work in 2012. My son and I visited my husband who got a work assignment on a country that has a spectacular mix of landscapes. It was a fifteen day vacation that is worth repeating as I have fallen in love on its natural charm and engaging history.
Under a scorching but tolerable heat of summer we reached Santiago, the capital city. Once we set foot on this country our family head out to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Opened a few years ago, this museum is architecturally pleasant and modern. It has four floors of well-organized exhibitions, interactive materials and literature works of great value. In about two to three hours of exploring I have seen fair enough and appreciate the country’s rich history. The museum depicts what happened in Chile during the Pinochet Revolution in a down to earth manner, simple and accessible to everyone without leaving its audience shocked. It holds an incredible amount of data, period clippings and clear audio visual materials. A definite must see for everyone.
Afterwards we decided to go for a walk at the Parque Bicentenario. It is a very large park, well maintained with many people doing sport. It is ideal for running and cycling on their paved paths, do ball sports in their areas of grass, enjoy a good book in one of their banks, or just casually chill and enjoy nature. I especially like the area of artificial lagoons with flamingos, ducks, swans and goldfish. It is definitely a nice place to go visit and bring the kids along with.
The next day was a good day to taste wines at the Casablanca Valley. The valley is an interesting wine region for white wines on the way from Santiago to Valparaiso. It provides halfway to ideal for a break with tour and tasting. We were able to visit at least five of its ten excellent wineries which lie very close to each other. William Cole, Emiliana, Vina Mar, La Endonita and Vina Porta can not fail to be visited among the others. The roundtrip ride to visit each was super quiet and beautiful, plus they do not charge any entrance fee and the wine tasting is perfect. Vineyards are everywhere, some houses are beautiful, and we got wine at good prices and ate at one of their fancy restaurants. The food was exquisite, but in my opinion it was too much cheese dishes in a small serving and a bit pricey. After an intoxicating journey of the valley we got ourselves immersed on watching a great ballet at the Teatro Municipal. It is a beautiful complex, very well maintained but very small with narrow and uncomfortable seats. But we still enjoyed Madame Butterfly for their great orchestra. The ballet performers were fantastic!
We did not miss checking out Barrio Lastarria, the neighborhood with many surprises. It is very characteristic for its variety of delightful activities. It has several places to eat, window shop, small cafes and a cinema that showcase art films. There are shops to buy clothes that carry local and international brands. I shopped more at the vintage clothing shops that have American clothing from the 50’s and the 60’s. It is a perfect bohemian place where Chilean and foreigners converge. On one side we got a picturesque view of the Cerro Santa Lucia which we checked out next after the barrio. We climbed this attractive park on a small hill in the middle of the city. I love the circular garden surrounded by colorful flowers, fountains and lush green terraces. It has great views of the city and its astonishing skyscrapers.
The succeeding day my husband drive us all the way to the next region called the Valparaiso. We made an excellent choice to start our tour by seeing the La Sebastianna (Pablo Neruda’s House). I had a better appreciation of the famous Chilean poet whose works I greatly admire when I visited the five floor house and museum exhibiting his marvelous works. The house itself with the whole exhibition dedicated to him is fine and is complemented by the neighboring lands that allow coffee, cultural center and lush greenery. The famous poet has put together a variety of things from all over the world here. This well preserved house with a privileged view of the bay has many elements of the writer; each room recreates the spaces he enjoyed and inspiring to him. For someone who recognize the work of Neruda it is a thrilling place to visit. The most rustic, historical, entertaining and best view of the region is at Cerro Concepcion. The streets between the hill and the houses painted in different colors make it a unique place to visit in Chile. At the Paseo Gervasoni we get to admire the bay and the scenic harbor views. It combines the best manifestation of the port, stylish with a striking peculiarity. It is worth a visit!
We spent the next five days admiring the coastal views at the region of Vina del Mar. When we checked out the Costanera I was amazed at its beautiful scenery that has a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. By day the beaches are very nice, crowded and busy. At night there is a lot going on in pubs, cafes and restaurants. I relished a good coastal walk with changing architecture with the best sunset views of the Pacific and the lights from the houses at night. The urban atmosphere and landscape were interesting. On the beach we saw craft fairs and met a group of artisans who makes impressive sand sculptures. There are areas for physical activities and games for children.
Reñaca is the beach where most of the high class people or wealthy prefer to holiday. It is very clean and well organized. The sea water was very cold when we took a swim. It is a great mix of sun, beach, and many places to eat and drink overlooking the sea. We also checked out the honeymoon beach called the Playa Luna. The beach is gorgeous and serene, a nudist site but full of friendly people, couples and families. With wonderful views, the beach is ideal for reading, relaxing and sunbathing.
The highlight of our holiday was to see the volcanic rock sculptures at the Easter Island. Despite being remote it is the most visited attraction of this country. My 18 year old son was equally amazed at the huge Moai statues we saw at the Ahu Tongariki. About 600 strange stone heads were actually left behind by early Polynesian settlers. These statues or Moai, were sculpted around one thousand years ago and were thought to have magical powers. The volcano is the quarry where the statues were made and there are many half finished and half way. We took a long hike to check this quarry called the Rano Raraku. The impressive stone carvings emerging from our view as we ascended were majestically enigmatic. We started our hike at the Rapa Nui National Park. The journey is endless but it was all worth the effort. It felt like being in another world, a distant past of creation but at the same time very practical. The mysterious and enigmatic island totally surrounded us with its magic.
I went home captivated by the magic and mystical charm of this country. Every corner of the island stayed in my memory. I can’t wait to go back there, I love Chile!