Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, Chile

Other than our self-guided walking tour of Santiago, the only other thing we wanted to do during our short stay in the city was to go up Costanera Tower in Santiago, the tallest building in Latin America. However, because the fog was so bad that day the women at the desk selling tickets advised us not to go up because we wouldn’t be able to see the mountains, we decided to save our money and skip it.

We said adiós to Santiago and set off in our rental car for Viña del Mar. For the 2 1/2 hour drive we opted to skip the toll roads, and boy what an adventure that was! The roads were some of the most curvy, winding mountainous roads I’ve seen since driving around in Greece but they were all paved and in good condition. There was almost nothing in sight for miles and miles other than beautiful countryside. We also almost ran out of gas too but with fumes left in the tank we made it to a gas station in the nick of time.

I had reserved a condo through Airbnb and the place was even better than I expected. For much less than we would have paid for a comparable condo overlooking the beach back in the United States, we had four bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining room, living room, washer and dryer, swimming pool, huge balcony spanning the length of the condo, all in a safe, gated community. Check out the view from our balcony:

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When I was planning our vacation I was trying to decide whether we should stay in Valparaiso or Viña del Mar. I read that Valparaíso has more charm than its neighbor but Viña del Mar is safer and more of a beach getaway. After seeing Valparaíso I could see what people mean. Valparaíso has more of an edge to it that some people prefer, while Viña del Mar is full of high rises and shopping centers. That being  said, the view from our condo was stunning whether it was day or night (see above photo and last photo) and I felt completely safe at all times.

Before leaving our hotel in Santiago, we had been warned not to leave a single thing in our rental car while in Valparaiso or thieves would break the window to steal it. We took this to heart and didn’t leave anything in the car when we parked in Valparaíso. However, we walked and drove all over Viña del Mar, even after it was dark and never once did we feel like we were in an unsafe area.

One thing I do feel the need to mention is the huge amount of stray dogs in Chile. As an animal-lover, it’s heart-breaking. This sad-looking little dog followed us steadfastly one evening for a couple of miles, hoping to join our pack. We called her “Chile.” She ultimately left us just before we entered the gate to go up the funicular to our apartment.

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“Chile”

Of course one of the first things we wanted to do when we arrived in Viña del Mar was go to the beach. Although it was a bit chilly for lying on the sand in a bathing suit and the water was far too cold to swim in, it was perfect weather for walking along the beach, which we did on multiple occasions. There are a few restaurants along the beach but since it was off-season it was pretty quiet when we were there. We also took advantage of the workout equipment along the beach to have the best workout at the most scenic “gym” I’ve ever been to!

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The most fun I’ve ever had doing leg press!

Of course a must-do while in Valparaíso is to take a tour of the famous poet and Chilean diplomat Pablo Neruda’s former house, “La Sebastiana.” Neruda had three houses, one in Santiago, one in Isla Negra, and this one in Valparaíso. It seemed to me that La Sebastiana had the most character of the three houses, so we chose this one to tour. This was definitely one of the most unique homes I’ve ever been in, from the design to the furnishings and choice of decor. The bar area with the unique knick knacks and bathroom with the clear glass door by the bar particularly come to mind. It’s definitely a place you have to experience in-person to fully appreciate.

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Pablo Neruda’s former home
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View from inside Pablo Neruda’s former home

The website is here for La Sebastiana. Entrance fees are 7,000 Chilean pesos per person or about $10.50 US with discounts for Chilean students and Chilean adults over 60. The self-guided tour takes roughly an hour, includes an audio guide for each floor and is available in English, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

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Some colorful houses in Valparaiso

We also visited Palacio Rioja, a beautiful historic home in Viña del Mar built in 1907 where you can take a self-guided tour for free. Palacio Rioja has been declared a National Monument and later a Museum of Decorative Arts. Guided tours can be arranged (although not in English) and more information can be found here. I highly recommend visiting here if you’re ever in the area.

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Palacio Rioja
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Inside Palacio Rioja

On subsequent days in Viña del Mar we walked along the beach, walked to nearby restaurants and shops and relaxed thoroughly. The sunsets here were spectacular and many evenings we would find ourselves just gazing out the window at the fading sun and lights from the cars and stores below. This is a place I could definitely see myself returning to. The people here are friendly, traffic isn’t bad, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants and other things to do in the area.

Alas, our time in Viña del Mar was coming to a close, and we packed up and headed off to the next part of our adventure in Chile- to a more remote section called Las Cabras in the O’Higgins Region. This would prove to be the most challenging portion of our vacation yet but we had no idea of that at the time!

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It’s my 1 Year Blogiversary!

I didn’t even know “blogiversary” is an accepted term; I had to look it up. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a “real” word, but if you google it, several things come up, so I’m going with it. I’ll admit I’m still very much a newbie when it comes to blogging. I know some of you have been blogging for many years (and have had many blogiversaries, so you are well aware of the term). For me, I’m still very much learning but I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned over my first year of blogging and sum up my blog.

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One of the first questions to ask here is why did I start my blog in the first place? Well, I’m running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US and I wanted a place to chronicle my races. I just ran my 41st half marathon in my 39th state, Utah, so I’m slowly but surely getting there. I also love to travel and enjoy writing about places my family and I go with the premise that you don’t have to be retired to travel the world. Hence, the title of my blog, “runningtotravel,” since my blog is about running and traveling, with a little spin on both of those.

What have I learned since I started blogging? Many, many things. For starters, it takes a lot of work to put together a blog and keep it going. By the time you have that first idea about what to write, then you type it up, edit it, add photos, check anything that needs checked (facts, dates, etc.) you’ve got some time invested in that post. Then, if you’re lucky, others have commented and you need to reply to those comments. There’s also the social media aspect, where you post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to get others to come to your site and respond to any comments there. Not surprisingly, many bloggers stop posting after a few weeks or months because they simply can’t invest the amount of time necessary.

Another thing I’ve learned since I started blogging is just how enormous the blogging community is. I had no idea there were that many people with blogs. Nor did I know how many platforms there are for bloggers. I use WordPress but that’s just one of many places where bloggers can and do post their blogs, like bloglovin for example. Like I said, I’m still learning.

One thing I’ve learned about the blogging community is that it’s full of compassionate, friendly, helpful, and knowledgable people. Maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve yet to encounter any mean or unwelcome comments from anyone. By far the majority of comments I’ve received have been insightful, encouraging, and helpful. Maybe a part of that’s because most of these comments have also been from runners and/or travelers and I have the biased opinion that the running and traveler communities are some of the most welcoming and supportive communities out there.

I’ve seen the number of followers increase over time to my blog, and I’m always in awe and humbled that so many people actually want to read about my adventures, races, and other exercise/fitness/family-related posts. Without followers, I might as well just keep an online diary that only I can see. That brings me to my final thought about blogging.

Many bloggers really wear their heart on their sleeve, so to speak. For those of you not familiar with the phrase, it means to show intimate emotions in an honest and open way. This makes a blogger more vulnerable but it also allows the reader to really get to know the person. I’ve struggled with this because I tend to be a pretty private person. Finding the right balance between giving details but not too many details to make me uncomfortable has been a learning curve but I think I’ve managed to do this.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has read my posts and commented. I feel like I’ve gained some “blogger friends” and am happy I’ve found this blogging community. I’ve learned so much, not just about blogging, but about so many other things and for that I thank you for enriching my life. I can only hope to do the same for you.

So tell me, why did you start blogging?

Donna

 

#MyFirstPostRevisited

Paula from Never a Dull Bling nominated me for “My First Blog Post Challenge.” Sarah from Lemon Shark created the challenge. Thanks, Paula! I’m up for the challenge.

Here goes, my first blog post from 10 months ago:

Why I run

I’ve been running pretty much since I can remember.  I remember running on the track team in grade school and how my lungs would ache on those chilly mornings in West Virginia.  I remember the sheer thrill I would feel as a kid when running with our dog through our neighborhood and how happy our dog looked.  I remember running to stave off the freshmen 15 in college.  Then I remember getting shin splints during one run in college and almost crawling back to my apartment, followed by the agonizing pain I felt when all of my leg muscles seized up in the shower.  I decided to take some time off running at that point and I did not run again for about four or five years.  Then I realized how much I missed running and I decided to train for my very first 5k.  The race I chose was on the 4th of July in North Carolina.  Being young and naive, I didn’t even think twice about running through the heat and humidity that envelopes the North Carolina summers.  Fortunately, the race was in the evening, but I remember it was still extremely hot and humid even after the sun had gone down.  It was during that summer that I remembered why I run.  It’s not to stay in shape or lose weight. It’s not so I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight.   When I run, I feel free.  I feel alive.  Sure, there are times when it’s painful and not much fun, but I know when I’ve finished a run, I will feel satisfied that I’ve put my all into that run and I have done my best.  I run because I love it, quite simply.

 

Now for my nominees (who do not have to participate so please don’t feel obligated):

Run Away With Me (What a journey you’ve had!)

Slacker Runner (Holy cow- you’ve been blogging for a long time! What an accomplishment!)

If I Just Breathe (Mission accomplished for your goals on this post, I’d say!)

Dream Trip 2016 site (I was intrigued by your first post)

Running the States (We have similar interests and goals in mind)

Remember, this is not an award, but a challenge.

But first, here are the rules:

Obvious rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post. Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

Have fun!