Viña Del Mar, Chile I
We set down on the runway at the Santiago Airport from Buenos Aires at 9:20 a,m,, after a flight of less than two hours. We pass through customs with ease, and out the exit to the curb where the buses wait to take arriving passengers into the city.
We have chosen not to look at Santiago. We’ve been here and it is an interesting city with a lot of very good restaurants if you like the city. It has a population of about six million people and is situated in the Santiago Valley, a bowl-shaped valley formed by the surrounding Andes Mountains That land formation resulted in quite a lot of air pollution . . . from automobile exhaust–yes–but also from the many wood stoves that were used for heat in the winter. Chile has a lot of wood heat, which we happen to like. But wood heat is understandably no longer allowed in the city in order to improve the air quality.
However, the temperature ranges from as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, though it can go higher, and 55 degrees Fahrenheit lows in the winter—though of course, it can go much lower. In our opinion heat in winter is not a big issue in Santiago. If you do want to consider Santiago, the neighborhood we would suggest is Providencia. Although there are other good neighborhoods, this would be our choice.
But since we are not stopping here, we go right through the airport exit to the buses. We look for the bus to Pajaritos (Pa-ha-REE-tos), from whence we will take a second bus to our objective–Viña del Mar (the vineyard of the sea). The only problem here could be if you carry a lot of luggage. In that case you might need a taxi. You can take a taxi all the way to Viña del Mar for about $140 US. Or you can take a taxi to the Pajaritos station. For our part we find it more convenient to travel light so we board the bus for the short trip to Pajaritos.
In Pajaritos bus station, we locate our bus to Viña del Mar. (That’s pronounced VEEN-ya.) Although Viña is a couple of hours from Santiago, it really is quite easy to get there from the airport. The bus that we take is a very cushy, cross-country bus, so we settle in for a comfortable, scenic ride. In fact, one of the reasons we like Viña is because it is outside of Santiago, yet the airport is easily accessible.
Viña is a city of about 300,000 population, right on the Pacific coast. The climate is similar to Santiago, but Viña tends to have a happy, clear blue sky with white fluffy clouds because of the ocean breezes.
The city is joined to Valparaiso, where the population is about 800,000, making the total population of the area about the same as that of Montevideo, for those of you familiar with that capital city of Uruguay. The way you can tell when you pass into Valparaiso from Viña del Mar is by watching the signs. Otherwise you’d never know.
After we arrive and get settled in, we decide it’s still early enough to take you with us for a walk to the beach. Maybe it will give you an idea what it might be like to live in Viña del Mar.
Chile has some great beaches but it is different here in that the coast, to a large extent, is rocky. Chile’s ocean beaches really have a unique beauty.
There is sand, but here and there are large rocks.
Here, we come to a stretch that is just sandy beach. We are quite high above the beach here. The small specks you see are people. The beaches are fairly unpopulated this time of year since, as you will recall, the seasons are reversed. It is summer in the northern hemisphere, but it is winter in South America.
We decide to head on back to our apartment. Hope you’ll come back and join us again. We’ll look around a little more, show you a couple of apartments and give you a few cost-of-living figures and a little more information.
And then we plan to visit one of Chile’s scuba diving areas–not far from Viña del Mar–in a small town that, even if you aren’t a diver, maybe you’d like. We’ll go exploring together and see what we find.
See you then . . .
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