I quickly got tired of wandering around trying to find a hostel and couldn’t believe there wasn’t one closer to the bus station. After asking a taxi driver for directions it turned out that I’d walked straight past one, but the sign was so small I hadn’t clocked it, an unassuming white door in the midst of shops with their peacock displays. The hostel was full of Argentinians and Chileans but they were all in huge groups which made trying to fit in a whole lot more tricky. I was only staying for 2 nights so I wasn’t that bothered.
The main attraction in Viña del Mar is the beaches, which stretch for kilometres, lined with cafés, restaurants and market stalls. Even for a Monday, the beach was packed, with a lot of tourists visiting from neighbouring Argentina, as the beaches are supposedly better on the west side, if not only for the fact that you can watch the sunset. On my walk up the beach I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention to the puddles dotted around along the pavement. I peered my head over the side of the sea wall to get a better view and just after I’d continued on my way along the path, an almighty wave crashed against the wall and launched a barrage of water down on me, soaking my whole backside.
I spent the day relaxing at one of the cafés, reading and people watching. There were lots of families stretched out on towels, sunbathing, reading and listening to music, as you’d expect. The sadistic part of me did get a good laugh when the tide would suddenly catch them off guard and chase up the shore further than they expected, soaking their towels and disrupting the peace. The curious thing was that they didn’t really seem to learn, as every 20 minutes or so the same thing would happen, I’d hear an orchestra of “Oohs” and then see the desperate scrambling of arms and legs, as if trying to evade an invisible stampede.
I left the next day on a local bus to neighbouring Valparaíso, which only took about 15 minutes, a world away from the 20 hour bus trips I’d become accustomed to.