We spent a weekend in Vina Del Mar, which was enough to walk around and get a feel for the place. The weather was good and the sandy beaches were packed full of locals or people that had escaped from Santiago for the weekend. It was more modern and beach-orientated than Valparaiso (which only had the large industrial harbour) and we spent most of our time walking along the promenade checking out the stalls and eating at beach side cafes. We also watched the various sea birds and pelicans diving for fish very close to the shore.
Blog - Tag: Chile
The guide book said it was a bit rough around the edges, that you'll either love it or hate it, and that there was a good chance of being mugged, but surprisingly we quite liked it! This place has UNESCO world heritage status due to its unrivalled history of a major port prior to the opening of the Panama canal and the unique 'ascensors', small funicular railways acting as lifts from sea-level into the hills. The colourful streets up in the hills were tired but still charming in places.
For our first night we decided to just head straight to the YHA, a familiar and relatively cheap point of reference after staying in hostels all over Australia.
After a minor run-in with a woman at the airport who decided to try and lecture me after nearly taking me out with her suitcase in the baggage hall, my first impressions were restored by a nice local who offered us directions from Los Heroes (airport bus drop-off point) to the YHA. It wasn't far.