Dick and Jane's Travels

A Travelblog (click on any picture to enlarge -- then click again to make it even bigger)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vina del Mar, Chile

Vina del Mar, Chile

Visited November 20, 2005

Vina del Mar, Chile
Welcome to the 3rd day of the tour where we ventured from Santiago down to the upscale Vina del Mar resort and the gritty port of Valparaiso – two towns touching each other and the Pacific Coast. Let's talke about Vina del Mar, nicknamed "Vina" by the locals.

The Other Mountain Range

Although Chile is ten times as long as it is wide (even at its widest point of about 250 miles), it is carved up by two distinct mountain ranges. Everyone knows about the Andes which we saw yesterday in Santiago. But a second set of mountains, the Coastal Range, rise nearly 9000 feet near the Pacific. We ventured over the Coastal Range and experienced quite different weather. Here’s a photo of a Chilean mine just on the dry edge of the Coastal Range:

Here’s a picture of Jane and I nearby:

But once over the pass, the desert vanished and
we found ourselves at the foggish seaside. Here we are with our backs against the Pacific in Vina del Mar, the long-time premier beach resort of Chile and home (at least during part of the year) to about 300,000 residents, many living in new condo high-rises we passed to get to the shore. Vina often experiences fogs and overcast skies greeted us.

Why do we wear sunglasses in the fog but not the sun? It's a South American mystery like why water down here flows the opposite way in the toilet. Like Steven Wright says, why is the alphabet in that order?

Bring on the Funck

Our first stop was to the old section of Vina Del Mar, Chile's premier beach resort. Vina’s older section contains early 20th-century mansions including the Fonck Museum which specializes in Easter Island archaeology and Chilean natural history. We didn’t have time to go into the museum, but did get this picture of an original moai – one of those mysterious statues from this strange island that rises from a single volcano over 2000 miles from Chile’s shore. Note the high rise at left --typical of the newer architecture encroaching upon the elegant older section of Vina.

From there, we headed down to the shore to visit the casino area and walk along the shore greeted by the strong winds and overcast skies that typically haunt this town in the morning.

Vina's shoreline

Here's a shot of the rugged coastline taken from the casino area:

A Garden City Wannabee

Vina del Mar is called the “Garden City” because of its well-groomed sub-tropical vegetation. You see a lot of this in the well-maintained gardens from which the Casino rises including the cloverish plant in the second picture. The first picture is of the garden clock just over the Marga Marga Estuary; we could only photograph the clock from the bus as there was nowhere for our blimpish transport to park.

(Click on these pictures to see them large size; a second click makes them even larger; a third click may explode your screen so I wouldn't try it.)


Where are we now?

Click here for an interactive map of Chile.




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