Corrugated City

Friday 28 November 2008


On Wednesday I had to go to Santiago. Longer term readers of this blog may remember that I detest Santiago. Unfortunately, I've had to make quite a few days trips in the last couple of months to deal with tedious business stuff-signing papers, paying bills and other fascinating activities.

This time, I had a couple of hours to kill in La Zona Prohibida, otherwise known as Santiago Centro. Now, on a Sunday, this part of town is really quite nice as it has some beautiful architecture, plazas and interesting streets to wander around. On a week day at 2pm, it is the inner circle of hell.

However, I took advantage of my spare time to visit a couple of museums on and just off the Plaza de Armas. Firstly I went to La Casa Colorada, which charts some of the history Santiago. It's an interesting but small museum with some entertainingly rubbish diaramas. Well worth the 500 pesos entry. Right now there's an exhibition on by a painter called Paula Nosequien who painted a series of works based on interviews with families who lost relatives during the military dictatorship. I really didn't like the majority of them but two really struck me.

After this I headed to the Museo Histórico Nacional, a larger and more detailed history of Santiago and Chile. I didn't have a great deal of time at this point but next time I have time to kill in Santiasco I might head back there.

When I'd left Valpo in the morning it was raining (very odd for this time of year) and it was cloudy and misty until reaching the other side of Tunel lo Prado and arriving in the bowl of Santiago. It was then hot all day and when I finally left around 5pm I encountered the mist and crappy weather again as I drove back out through the same tunnel. Here's a photo of the bank of cloud waiting for me. I think I've mentioned this before but I really can't recommend taking photos as you drive.

Monday 24 November 2008

Zapallar and Papudo: Both Quite Nice

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Monday 17 November 2008


With the exception of Valparaiso, a handful of places that maintain a little Colonial architecture and, apparently, Punta Arenas (I've never been), most Chilean towns and villages look like how I imagine the survivors of a nuclear war will live as the Earth is rebuilt. Think the Apocalypse with a little extra Apocalypse thrown in, just for fun.

This is particularly true of most Chilean beach resorts. Pichidangui is no exception. As we arrived on Friday afternoon accompanied by grey skies and gusty winds, the village looked bleak, desolate and rather unwelcoming. Some of the houses were so ugly I nearly vomited. I wish I'd managed to shake off my disgust at the architectural nightmare with which I was confronted in order to take some photos to prove my point. But I couldn't and I can't. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Another thing about Chilean beach towns is that, when you enter, you actually travel back in time. In Chile, hotels and complexes are built but never updated. A bit of maintenance here and there, sure, but a full modernisation? Never. So we drove around for a while, choosing our decade. In the end, we decided that the 5ooo pesos premium for 80s kitsch just wasn't worth it. So we went with early 70s.

The Cabañas del Sol complex was one of the first to be built in Pichidangui and is actually really well maintained. The beach hut style cabins are dated (to say the least) but well kept, clean and comfortable.The barbecue was put to good use. The entire complex is really quite pretty with mature gardens and 3 very friendly and surprisingly well behaved Alsatians.

It looks like the set of a Swedish porno from the 1970s...

...and comes complete with an original and highly funky mini oven, enamelled sink and...

...just look at those tiles. Brilliant.

One of the cute dogs.

Saturday was a beautiful day and the sun even made Pichidangui look almost not quite hideous.

The natural setting of the village is, of course, absolutely beautiful. The beach curls along the coast some 7 or 8km with the mountains just behind.

We also managed to find real free range eggs in the mini-market, worth the trip alone. Yum.

The promenade is also very nice with antique street lamps and no graffiti (hard to believe, I know).

Along from the beach we came across the Kon-Tiki cabin complex. Its grounds are private and reserved for guests but who in Chile is going to challenge a tall, blond foreigner? There's a stunning (but freezing) pool made out of natural stone right on the water's edge and a really pretty stone walkway along the mini-cliff front. I was surprised that a small resort like Pichidangui would have a place like this. I was actually slightly surprised that Chile would have a place like this. Modern and attractive mid-range accommodation is just not this country's forte. Expensive boutique hotels, chain hotels or dated cheap-ish accommodation is usually all that's on offer.

For a relaxing weekend away (out of season at least) I'd definitely recommend Pichidangui. It's a 2 hour drive north of Valparaiso.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Dying in Valparaiso: Barbers

The Sociedad de Peluqueros (Barbers' Society) tomb can be found in El Cementerio de Playa Ancha

Sunday 9 November 2008

Back In The News

So after my first outing in the Grauniad blog by blog guide, I'm back in again. This time it's just a short piece about Valparaiso and other 'exotic' locations. Go check it out!

To any Guardian readers new to the blog, hope you enjoy it...

Come visit Valparaiso because it's the only city in Chile that's worth any of your time. The rest of the country scenery-wise is spectacular but the cities are generally pretty rubbish.

Oh, and please buy my house. Much obliged.

Friday 7 November 2008

More Old Photos of Valparaiso

You probably won't believe me, but I've actually been incredibly busy for the last week or so. This is new for me as I'm a work-shy layabout normally but when it comes down to it I guess I can work as hard as anyone. One day I hope to get paid.

Anyway, this is why I've not blogged for a while and also why this post is going to be nothing more interesting than a few more olde photos of Valparaiso. I hope to be back with something interesting to say at some point in the near future. Please don't hold your breath.

Plaza Sotomayor looking up towards Cerro Alegre

Looking up Calle Templeman and down Urriola, Cerro Alegre (photo taken from a house on Cerro Concepcion).

The intersection of Calles Prat and Cochrane used to look like this:

And now it looks like this:

Paseo Atkinson before the tosspots in the council allowed that hideous pink monstrosity (amongst others) to be built directly in front of it, obscuring the view and ruining the city back in the 60s.