After 9 hideous hours of bus travel from Santiago to Valdivia we arrived our destination, and hideous just for adding drama to the story because we slept as snorlax all the way.
Already at the terminal we took a cab at a completely foreign place, with all the confidence of the universe I would tell the taxi man an address without stutter, which to be honest I didn’t knew if it was right or wrong or if the streets where correct and real, but it seems it was about right, because him didn’t made questions.
Our previously Airbnb searched and booked host recommend us an specific route to get to his place, route that obviously I mentioned like it was the same old route I used to get there every day of my life.
The first impression of the place whilst in the cab was great, I could watch the Callecalle river to my right, realize that I wasn’t anymore at a city full of buildings to my left and I noticed there was a taximeter on front that was raising bit by bit as I pulled out the stack of coins off my bag, which I counted as any rookie, every time the taximeter raised.
One of the most outstanding structures of the place was with a naked eye the Valdivia Dreams Casino, it highlights because of the possibility that it is the tallest building of the place with an architecture that doesn’t look like anything around it and with a shape that reminds to the Burj Al Arab at Dubai or to a patty (It seems there’s a trend on every country or cities to make a building with that shape).
Finally we came to what it would be our home the next 2 weeks, easy to recognize because of the previously viewed pictures, but easier because everything is well listed at the town and the number at the end of every direction is understood by every local, I until that moment wouldn’t even deduce it was the house number.
Our host was at Santiago de Chile at the moment because of business, but we were welcomed by his wife, which showed us a bit of the place and took us to the room we had rented, also commented us that because of rain issues (something completely normal at Valdivia every 15 minutes), one of the gales affected the post that sustained a quantity of services such as cable, phone, electricity and internet, the gale broke the internet and just the internet, everything else including phone was working, thus the invisible energy that provide us the warm WiFi was useless, connecting to it was the same as to open an empty refrigerator at 2 am with hunger, but nothing to be scared of because none of our jobs depends on it (understand sarcasm).
Anyway this wasn’t a conflict to us, in the coming days we found several new ways to generate internet out of a bottle of wine and ceviche, we also used the internet of our phones to connect our laptops, so we could work easily just without an exceptional speed.
Our room was basically an annex of the house, so it had its own door to get in, our host was really thoughtful and time to time he’d come and knock with snacks or a glass of wine which was ever exceptional and very welcomed at any moment, and it couldn’t miss the homemade pisco sour that always turned out great.
The phone company had not gone to repair the internet of the house yet, and I just can remember that cold night (every night was cold), there was 11, the wind was very strong and it was raining outside, and the door would knock (and inside my mind just was the UP scene where Russel was knocking the door while floating at the sky), to our surprise there was a lady below all the coats that were at the doorstep in the middle of the storm with an USB stick with internet for us, because they knew our jobs depend on it and they were very nice on giving us that device, at the end it didn’t work but you see the scene.
Our first day was great because of the amount of hazing (I realized they were that 3 weeks after). One of them was having lunch on the first coffee shop we met on the internet, food was excellent, price doesn’t and because of rain which hates WiFi, this establishment also did not have internet working.
Walking around Valdivia for the first time was great, I was dying cold and loving it, rain would blew out of nowhere and people will carry their life’s like it was nothing, so I became used to it, it was remarkable that I was breathing a different and fresh air.
What would be the downtown it’s crowded with stores and street vendors at the sidewalk and although this could sound like the desperate streets of every city downtown, here was the opposite.
To the naked eye the first thing we were surprised was with the low prices on fruit, fish and of course wine.
Our second rookie mistake was to enter to the supermarket to buy stuff to days to come of winter that really had started the day before. Obviously half of the things we bought we couldn’t pick them right, because they were ridiculously expensive or when we tasted them we didn’t like them.
Second day we went to meet the famous Fluvial Market of Valdivia first thing in the morning, a space at the shore of the Callecalle river where several traders sells their fishes or harvests at really low prices, and these are products with a perfect look and really tasty, the fluvial market also helps to keep an economy of really low prices over Valdivia, it is because of this that larger supermarket chains are bound to keep their prices low.
The fluvial market was about 5 km from our place of staying, and practically we took that route every day because it is very close to everything, this route has a bus, which we ignored perfectly, and we saved 2$ the bus and we knew the city as we walked it (I have to say that I never got tired over walking the same route, it was visually good the place with very vivid houses). I think drivers don’t want much people to think like us.
A very good detail of Valdivia and actually a lot of places at Chile, is that it is full of very tiny groceries that actually posses everything you might be looking at a supermarket, with the same prices and even at sometimes cheaper, good thing is that if something is missing at 10pm you don’t have to go too far away, believe me at a block of distance you’ll always get one.
Our host as a way of apologize for the lack of internet wanted to redeem himself (and he made it), inviting us to eat one of the best ceviches I have ever tasted (he prepared it), a pisco sour and plenty of wine to spend the rest of the day by telling stories and getting recommendations for our trips and staying at Valdivia, what could be better as a tourist guide.
To the new week start after 5 days of doing nothing “touristic” we were up to visit some of our host recommendations, “The Botanical Garden” from the Austral University of Chile, it was about 10km, so we obviously walked to it.
To be honest this distances fell short with everything there is to see, on our way to the botanical garden we saw for the first time sea wolves close to the fluvial market, amazing creatures that seem to fight about sleep.
Arriving to the Austral University there is a segment of the street which everybody has a pic of it, I couldn’t waste this opportunity so I stood at the middle of the street to make a few pics and taking my time, until Natha told me there was a bus about to run me down, I can’t complain the pic was pretty.
The university posses a very impressive and artistic structure, it inspires to study, to attend courses at it, shame it’s not my thing, other people would appreciate it better.
The Botanical Garden arises a few steps inner the University literally you can say it is the University’s backyard, it doesn’t cost anything to walk in and you can go any time of the year, you just can describe it like a big and beautiful mass of nature, the walk is very short but very impressive, a place I consider students must be sick to watch, we enjoyed it like the perfect pair of tourists.
After finishing our walk we wanted to find a place to calm down our stomachs, so we walked a while Isla Teja, until we arrive to La Pizzería de Renzo, I didn’t have any idea of the place, I have ever listen to it before, but I was days craving for pizza and they sold it, I don’t regret it it was the most fantastic pizza I have eaten in months.
For our second Valdivian tourism day we decided to go to Saval Park that was just in front of the Botanical Garden on the same Isla teja, we could have gone to the 2 places the same day if we would wanted to but the day before we really got hungry.
Saval Park does have a paid ticket to enter unlike the Botanical Garden, so with pain we paid the astounding quote of 500 pesos chilenos each, a bit less than a dollar.
Time to enter the park we were immediately welcomed by a dog we named Pancho and who followed and guided us through all our way into the park, the place is bigger than the Botanical Garden with basically just one path that surrounds it all, with a picnic area in the middle of it to share it with family, at some times of the year you can do canopy over the lotto lagoon, it’s pretty big, already at the end of our way through the park Pancho said goodbye to us and started to follow a new group that was beginning the trail.