Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Year's in Valparaiso, Chile

I suck at posting. I was in the US for quite a while, and getting my fill of all things American and Texan distracted me from updating this thing. Mil disculpas.

I don't remember a whole lot from New Year's Eve in Valparaiso, but what I did remember is below, included in a list of a few pointers, for those who are thinking of spending New Year's Eve in Valpo in the future:

The scene at Plaza Sotomayor - safe, but crowded.
Toward the pier (between the buildings) it gets much, much worse.


1) DO go to Plaza Sotomayor but stay in the areas where they have the stages set up for the bands. They sell all kinds of alcohol (mostly beer) and food (italian sausage, chicken kebabs, etc). Bring cash, but not much. Don't bring anything with you that you wouldn't mind having stolen, or that's not attached to you. Normally I wouldn't wear a money belt, but I'd consider one for this night.

2) DO NOT stand on the pier just under where they shoot off the fireworks (in Plaza Sotomayor). The crowd is large, dense, and dangerous. Men were grabbing me and my boyfriend was right next to me. People were shoving their hands into his pockets, trying to pickpocket him. It's not worth it, and it was downright scary. If you insist on being this close, be warned.

Oh, we were ready.
3) BUY the cheap plastic champagne glasses and party favors, noisemakers, crazy sunglasses, masks, lucky yellow undies, and other fun stuff from the street merchants all around the city on the 2 days leading up to NYE. They are all pretty cheap and have some fun stuff that you won't mind losing/breaking/giving away.

4) MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE. Especially at the popular places on the hills, that are booked up weeks in advance. Figure out where you want to eat and bite the bullet, and pay the ridiculous $$$ to do it. At least you'll have a plan, and you'll be out of the danger zone down below near the water (of partygoers, broken glass and mischief). We tried to get into Brighton (Website here) a day in advance, and it was already fully booked.

Valparaiso - one of the squares all dolled up for the holidays
5) Make sure you have a hostel or hotel booked far in advance. We stayed at our go-to place El Rincón del Marino, which we love because it's cheap and clean, and the owners are friendly. It's not the nicest place, but it's certainly pretty good for the price and in a location with easy access to transit and going to Viña del Mar/up the coast if you have done and seen most of Valparaiso.

6) Buy champagne and alcohol at the supermarket or liquor stores the day before or early that day. You'll want to bring your own with you if you do decide to brave the crowds and party in the street, and they begin to sell out of stuff pretty quickly the closer it gets to New Year's eve early evening.

7) If a random Chilean family offers to let you watch the fireworks from their ridiculously large picture windows on Paseo Gervasconi, for the fee of $40 per person without alcohol (and ask that you bring some to share with them), politely decline. It is tempting, but it ain't worth it. True story.

We did have a great time in Valparaiso, and the Chileans really know how to party. The fireworks are amazing and definitely the most elaborate displays I've ever seen, maybe. I'm not sure if it is the same or better than the Macy's 4th of July fireworks over NYC which I've also seen up close and personal... but they're pretty damn amazing.

Just be careful, watch your stuff, and make sure at least one person in your party is sober enough to get you home and out of trouble!






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