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After a nice ten days of relaxation and exploring, our last day had arrived. We made our favorite Chilean breakfast, a marrequeta, and avocado toast with coffee, Lilo's fresh juice of course and looked out at the lake. It was all a bit emotional as it felt like the trip had just begun and we had to pack our bags and say goodbye already. That's the hard part about vacations really, as soon as it begins it's already time to go home and you meet so many incredible people and experience so much culture. We told ourselves that this will be a tradition and that we'll start coming out every other summer and really feel the roots of where Martin is from, it's really important in life to connect with where you are from. One day when we have our children, we will take them to the place where their grandfather was from and that will continue on in the life cycle. That is tradition.
First stop, Santo Domingo - on our way back to Santiago
We headed out and began the drive back to Santiago, but before our flight which was later in the night, Lilo had a couple more surprises for us. We headed to the stunning coastal city of Santo Domingo, which is a commune in the San Antonio Provence of the Valparaiso Region.
© Bless the Nest 2020. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission.
We stopped at Lilo's mother's old home, that is still there and abandoned. We paid a tribute to her and headed to the beach to put our feet in the sand and feel the salty cool water. There was an entrance to the beach next to an oceanfront restaurant and art gallery. We took the flight of wooden steps down to the beach. The water was very chilly and the beach was full of beautiful colorful and vibrant stones. It was a rocky beach and felt good on the feet like a little reflexology and very grounding. It was nice to be able to stop and put our feet in the ocean before our flight and see the town where Martin's grandmother had lived.
Next stop, Viña Del Mar
As me made our way down the winding roads into the coastal towns, we drove into Valparaiso to the left and entered into Viña del Mar to the right. Viña Del Mar translates to "Vineyard of the Sea" in Spanish and is Chile's fourth-largest city. The valley where Viña del Mar was founded was known as the valley of Peuco by the Changos which were native inhabitants of the area dedicated to fishing. The Spanish conquistadors divided the valley into two large sections which were considered haciendas. The north being Vina Del Mar and the south was Las Siete Hermanas. A railroad was then constructed through Santiago and the port of Valparaíso joining the lands. The economy boomed and the city really developed.
We noticed that as soon as we drove into the city, an apparent growing economy and so much diversity. Every walk of life was out and about in the city. It was so beautiful driving along the coast and watching the waves crash. During the summer months, from December to March, this town is full of people. Expect traffic and winding scenic roads. It is quite a big city with so much to do. They also host every year the big Viña del Mar Festival where famous singers and performers from all around the world showcase their talents to Chile. There are many things to do; from casinos, amazing restaurants, huge oceanfront hotels, and stunning beaches that stretch down the coastline. We'll definitely allot more time next time we are in this beautiful city.
Next city, Reñaca
Driving through the many curves and traffic along the way through Viña Del Mar, the next city blends into our view, Reñaca. Lilo, Martin's dad, found this little gem of a restaurant, apparently built off a cliff, and he couldn't wait to show us. We drove up to a scenic area nestled up on a clifftop where we had lunch, a fantastic seafood restaurant called, San Marino's. The restaurant was literally built on top of the cliff overlooking the ocean. We sat outside on the patio which is a must for seating preferences and felt the salt air and splashes of water every time a big wave came in. That's how close we were to the water! It was unbelievable. We had a very fresh seafood lunch that consisted of "Locos" which are sea snails and they were huge, stuffed with a shrimp!! They were cooked very simple, steamed and that was it with a little lemon zest. For how large they were, you would think that they'd be tough, but they were actually very tender. The locos were served with a creamy potato salad. We also had crab meat with fresh avocado and octopus "pulpo" with roasted potatoes and of course a favorite of ours, "Machas a la Parmesan"razor clams baked with Parmesan cheese. I had a spritzer with white wine and fresh juice and Martin had a cervesa. We had an espresso and split a lucuma cake and headed out back on the road.
After lunch, back to Viña del Mar for a stroll to the famous clock
Vina Del Mar is also home to the flower clock, which is known as "The Reloj de Flores". The flower clock was built in 1962 for The World Cup and is run by a GPS mechanism that keeps the time quite accurate and clock functioning. The clock is made up of more than 7,000 different flowers and bushes. The clock is located on the seafront and accessible 24 hours per day and is even lite at night time. Be sure to visit the clock when you go to Vina Del Mar, it really is something with it's history and colorful display!
Off to Santiago, to the airport
We then jumped into the car and cleaned off our sandy toes, Boccelli playing of course and headed to the airport. We had a little time before we boarded so Lilo took us to a shopping mall in the area, as I really wanted to bring us back home a special souvenir that would encompass the whole Chilean experience. I wanted our souvenir to be something that we could always have and use in the daily lives that reminded us of Chile. I noticed in multiple homes in Chile, the traditional living area would have a beautiful colorful blanket on the back of the sofa or sometimes even hanging on the wall in a decorative frame.
These pieces are usually referred to as "Makun"meaning traditional blanket in Chile. They are of a colorful design and are typically handwoven with wool. We couldn't find any after many efforts, and luckily the last store that we went to did have one, an alpaca weaved black and white blanket. It was so soft and warm, we knew that it was the perfect makun for us and our nest! Lilo bought it for us as a gift and souvenir to take back home, which was so generous. Thank you, Lilo.
Off to the airport and back to the States (sigh)
We then headed to The Santiago Airport, passports in hand, and an extra suitcase full of our Chilean wines and gifts (lots of chocolates hehe). The airport was packed and this was the first week of the coronavirus pandemic coming out from China and quite a few people were wearing masks. It was odd to see and somewhat alarming. Writing this now a couple of months later things have changed a lot on the COVID-19 front and its spread immensely. Martin and I say often, we are so grateful that we had the opportunity to go to Chile before this pandemic started as now traveling is quite dangerous and not recommended. Travel will most definitely come back, and when it does Martin and I will embark on our next big adventure! We hope to go to the Caribbean or The Mediterranean next and then to Europe. We are so blessed that we had this trip to Chile, it was unforgettable and changed our lives. Thank you for so much hospitality Lilo, Sebastian and Caro, Villard Fine Wines, and Fuego de Apalta for your unbelievable service. Get ready for more travel blogs ahead from us!
Be Well and keep your nest blessed. Until out next adventure,
Ashley & Martin
Bless The Nest Travel