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Feliz Año Nuevo!

Celebrating in Valparaíso with some special visitors

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With New Year just around the corner, we invited my (Stuart’s) parents to come out and join us to see a little of both Chile and Argentina.

Having picked them up from the airport in Santiago, our first stop was the nearby port city of Valparaiso.
Our first day was spent sightseeing around the hills and squares of the old town. We visited the house of the Nobel-prize winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Neither of us had read any of his poetry but my folks are fans of the Italian film “Il Postino”, in which Nerudo is one of the main characters. The house seemed to be popular with intellectuals of my parents’ age, carefully examining the paintings and upholstery while nodding along to the audio guide - all of which lent a slightly surreal air to proceedings.
Later we wandered through the Museo del Cielo Abierto (Open Air Museum), a collection of murals on the side of houses in the streets of Cerro Bellavista. Interesting but pretty restrained compared to Medellin and other cities.
After some wandering through the slightly dilapidated streets of the centre of town, we took one of the many funiculars up to Cerro Alegre for a different view over the city and a pre-new-year-celebration meal.
New Year’s was spent on the balcony of our AirBnB, enjoying a view out over the bay and watching the excitement build among the inhabitants of Valparaiso. Sadly the famous fireworks display had been cancelled. After being postponed for a couple of years due to the pandemic, the fireworks themselves had gone out of date. Seems laughable that they hadn’t checked until a week before the event but these things happen.
New Year’s Day was spent sprawled on the beach at nearby Vina del Mar. As you might have predicted it was really busy, with lots of families having a great time at the start of their summer holidays. The sea here has impressive waves that were keeping the lifeguards busy blowing their whistles and shouting.
My mother, an expert at sitting and sizzling away on the beach for hours in France, got very burnt. We can chalk that up to skin that’s come straight from the English winter or the hole in the ozone layer.

Our final day in the city was spent learning a little bit about Chilean cuisine in a cooking class. After agreeing what the menu would look like, we were taken around the market to buy all of the necessary ingredients. The market was fairly quiet and empty due to it still being a holiday after New Year’s but it was still good fun hunting for aubergines and apricots. We hopped on the bus up to Cerro Mariposa and were ushered into a beautiful house with a big kitchen / dining room and balcony overlooking the bay.
Over the course of three hours we made:

  • Empanadas (both pino / beef and berenjena / aubergine) with “pebre”, a garnish of onion, tomaro, coriander and chile;
  • Palta Reina, avocado stuffed with a mixture of palm hearts, mayonnaise, pepper and coriander;
  • Pastel de Choclo, a corn cake with a base of ground beef or aubergine;
  • Fruit salad topped with palm honey.

To kick off the meal we enjoyed a (couple of) pisco sours on the balcony.
We had some great company from a Dutch family, also two long-term travellers with parents in tow.

On getting back to our apartment we all had to crash out to digest everything!

Our next stop is Santiago, where we’ll spend a few days. Looks like the weather is due to heat up significantly so we might be running between shady spots in the city.

Posted by loscaracoles 00:39 Archived in Chile

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