Winter Vacation – part 1: South of Chile!

Wow, what an incredible few weeks of vacation in South America! I’ll have to break it down by trip though, as I went to 3 separate places – the South of Chile, Buenos Aires and Montevideo and Monte Patria, Chile for a kids Winter Camp!

Here we go with Valdivia, Puerto Varas, Frutillar and Puerto Montt!

I decided to trek down to the South of Chile with my gringo friend Julian and his hilarious friend Kamran, as I was told that it was incredibly beautiful and a must-see while I am here in this lovely country. We first decided to take an overnight bus from Viña del Mar to Valdivia(our first stop) as we wanted to take full advantage of daylight. I luckily slept pretty well(thanks to a light sleeping pill – haha) and in about 13-14 hours, we woke up in Valdivia! After walking around for a bit, we found a cute, comfy little hostel that had been recommended to us and funny enough, bumped into a few other volunteers in the English Opens Doors Program(the same program I’m in).

After exploring the quiet little downtown a bit and finding a little place to eat and drink some coffee, we decided that we had to head to the Kuntsmann Brewery (German brewery that is very famous in Chile). Kuntsmann makes amazing flavorful beer and we decided that we needed to check it out from the source… We took a little micro bus there through beautiful, lush green scenery and then ordered our first beer as we took in the beautiful big, wooden building that is the Kuntsmann brewery. After my blueberry lager, we decided to go on a tour of the brewery, where we then got free unfiltered specialty beer only found at the brewery and got to drink from a giant beer vat with our own gift mugs! It was magical.

After the brewery, we headed back to the hostel to join some of the other traveler’s we had met(an awesome group of Aussies and Americans) for a big salmon and wine feast! I don’t usually eat fish but the South is known for it’s amazing fish and seafood, and it was probably the best salmon I’ve ever had(bought from a local market in Valdivia), so I was glad I tried it!

The next day, we went on an amazing walk around town, through the fish market and out by another brewery. We saw wild geese, beautiful green scenery and drank another Kuntsmann as the rain poured down at a different brewery. Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned it yet, but it was FREEZING! Apparently it’s pretty much always cold in the South of Chile, but as it’s winter it was a cold I haven’t felt in a long time! As you’ll see by all the pictures, we were very bundled up! After our long walk, we headed to a really cute, hippy/bohemian restaurant where I had a tofu sandwich for the first time in SO long! After that, we checked out of the hostel and were off on another bus to Puerto Varas!

Puerto Varas is only about 2-3 hours south of Valdivia and I had heard great things about it from my former Spanish teacher in San Francisco, Patricia, who happens to be Chilean and happens to be living in Puerto Varas right now! We were luckily able to meet up with her right after we got off the bus and we had some wine and coffee and caught up on the last 2ish years of our lives! After meeting up with her, we checked into quite possibly the cutest hostel I’ve ever stayed in – all wood, with central heating(woo!) and a very nice German owner. We were just about the only people in the hostel as they don’t get too many winter visitors so we drank some wine and beer and relaxed! Ah, we also managed to make it to the casino there(I lost $5 on slots) and wander around the town, although there wasn’t much happening in terms of night life…

The next day, I woke up with the start of a cold and a bit of a fever, but we still decided to head to a place called Frutillar for the day to check out more lush, green landscapes! After a micro bus ride and another long walk, we found our way to the magical little town of Frutillar, complete with a gorgeous beach on Lake Llanquihue and German-style wooden buildings. We walked around the beach and town, taking pictures of all the wondrous sites. As the sun was setting, I saw some of the most beautiful colors in the sky and water, that I’ve possibly seen in my entire life. My camera couldn’t even capture the greens and blues, but it was seriously a fantastic sunset and sight. After the sunset, we headed inside and grabbed a coffee and saw a great art exhibit inside the town Theater, which again was another magnificent wooden building.

As that day happened to be the 4th of July, we decided to make an American/Chilean feast of hot dogs(my meat was mushrooms) and beer at our adorable hostel.  The next day, we walked around Puerto Varas a bit more, checking out the beautiful German-influenced church and some great views of the city.

After that, we headed on another micro bus to the bigger town of Puerto Montt, where we again walked around, shopped for some artesanal goods, ate fish/seafood empanadas, checked out the fish market and drank pisco sours. We then sat on some rocks overlooking the lake and the volcano drinking wine as we waited for our overnight bus back to Valparaiso. By then, I was feeling pretty sick, but it was all completely worth it!

Enjoy the photos! Next up… Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and an English winter camp with high school kids!

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