I should start off by saying that I have never been to Miami Beach. But the beach in Reñaca, Chile made me think of a scaled-down version of Miami Beach.

Last weekend we went to the coast with some Chileans friends. They have a son who, age-wise, is right in between Carman and Sudoku. With three of them and six of us, we used both of their vehicles to get around in the traffic-heavy, beachy tourist areas to the west of Santiago. They drove for us, showed us around, waited to find parking spaces…Oh my. They made our trip.

We drove from Santiago to Viña del Mar and we explored Valparaiso, Renaca, and Concon too. Then we came back over the mountains and through the countryside via Tiltil.

Viña del Mar is a popular vacation spot for Chileans and Argentinians. It is just north a Valparaiso, one of the oldest cities in Chile. Viña del Mar is a modern, hip, popular place. In the off season, life there is slower and calmer than say, in Santiago. Residents leave school or work at lunch time to dine at home. Sounds quaint. But the Viña we visited was not quaint — it was hopping – ’cause it’s summertime.

The first day, we drove from Santiago to Viña del Mar and located the furnished apartment we had rented for the weekend. (Our friends were staying with family for the weekend.) We stayed in an apartment complex on a “cerro” (a hill) not far from the beach. The cerros in this area remind me of San Francisco. They are steep with rounded tops, and in this area, they are covered with houses and/or apartment buildings. (These next two pics are by Flicker’s aev and Claudio, respectively. Hopefully they give you an idea of the size, scope, and steepness of the cerros.)

After getting settled, eating lunch, and taking a little break (there was a small playground at the apartment), we headed to the Reñaca beach. The beach at Reñaca, we learned, is for the young or “youthful”: the young, wild, and daring. 🙂 There were folks playing games, music, and of course, lots of bikinis. There were a few people knee or waist deep in the water, but few were swimming. We did spot a few surfers, but for the normal person, the water was really cold. Like, make-your-feet-ache cold. I could handle it for about 5-6 waves before the ache was too much for me.

Now, a break for a bunch of pictures!

Those are terraced apartments/hotels built onto the side of cerros (hills)

So, we hung out on the youthful beach for a while, let the kids play in the surf (which they loved). We headed back to the apartment to get some dry clothes, and then went out for pizza. We didn’t have to drive far at all – we probably could have walked to the pizzeria and probably should have, because finding a parking place was a bear. And it was after 10:00pm – busy time.

This is Chile. Folks here are typically night owls. The typical “dinner” time is around 9:00 in the summer. So we were out at dinner-time rush hour on a weekend. We drove in circles for — I don’t know 20-30 minutes? — trying to find a parking space. The pizza – WOW! The best I’ve ever had. Super thin crust, different, delicious toppings, with a cheese or other non-tomato base. Just truly delicious.

We got back to our apartment after mid-night and slept hard. There’s much more to say about our trip, but this post is already too long. More later.