Monday, August 20, 2012

Viña del Mar - why you need to go, Wok & Roll, bagels

Valparaiso's colorful houses and picturesque hills are amazing, but if you go to the Chilean coastline in this area, you'd be remiss if you didn't make it slightly north to Viña del Mar (about 10-15 minutes) and Reñaca (about 40 minutes).

They're easy to reach by bus from Valparaiso (and directly from Mendoza) and a major vacation destination for the Argentines, and particularly, the Mendocinos. Everyone goes to Reñaca during the summer. It's like what the Hamptons are for New Yorkers. Except this is the Hamptons for the slightly less well-off, where there are no impressive houses and everyone is eating empanadas. And a lot of people have rat-tails, but not in an ironic way.

Still, you must go. I will write about Viña del Mar here, and Reñaca in my next post. You can catch the city buses there that run up and down the coastal road and the ride is scary, but cheap.

Viña del Mar has at least 2 things (other than Entremasas) that you should go see while you're there. One is Moai from Easter Island. If you take a photo just right, you can fool some fools into believing you actually paid the billion* dollars to fly to Easter Island from Santiago.

The other is the flower clock that they are so proud of. It's not amazing, I know. But it's pretty cool. And if you're going to be there to see the Moai and get some sun, you might as well mosey on over and take a photo. I'm told that they change the flowers every now and then, so the colors probably vary.
Son las 12:37, perras.
What's more, Viña is more like a "real city" in some respects; they have a Lider (Chilean WalMart), good shopping, a (VERY nice) Casino, a boardwalk... the whole nine.  I recommend having a drink on the patio of the Enjoy Bar, which is right across from the casino, at the end of the little street that leads to the boardwalk. They had a drink called the "Quiet Relax"... which is just a ridiculous name for a drink that was strong as hell and unidentifiable. Stick with a pisco sour. They are delicious here.

I also recommend renting one of the 4-person Surreys (bikes with an awning above it) and riding up and down the street. We went a little crazy and drove up to the doors of the casino. It was hilarious, but I think you just had to be there. You should probably do it, too, and let's see if we can start a trend. If you do, please send me a photo. I'll post it. I swear.

A stroll along the boardwalk should also be in your cards for the day, as well as a good wander of the shopping streets. We ate at a delicious pan-Asian restaurant that night, which by its name was highly deceiving, as it brings to mind a certain bad-mall-Chinese-food vibe; Wok & Roll.

The menu was a bit all over the place, but we all decided on curries (chicken with green curry for me) as our main dishes, with some sushi rolls to start. The curries were fantastic, especially since we were in Chile. We didn't have much time to eat because we were catching our bus back to Mendoza in a few hours, so we probably would have stayed longer if we could have. The staff were great and called a cab for us while we were eating so that we could leave as soon as we were done.  If I went back to Viña, I'd go eat there again.

Another notable thing for Expats who are missing the flavors of home is that there's a bagel shop in town now, run by expats called BagelMania. They had a booth at Lollapalooza Chile, and I was really impressed. Check it out.

*Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.

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