We decided to leave Viña del Mar for one last "adventurous" trip at the end of our year away - it seemed like a pity to be so close to the wilderness in Chile and not visit.
In the end it probably wasn't worth the hassle of up-rooting the kids, packing all our stuff, and taking yet another flight. While Puerto Varas was nice, it was a long drive from the interesting hiking, so we spent a lot fo time in the car. And the weather was so fickle that we ended up drenched in freezing rain more than once.
But as always we managed to have a fun time, and the girls loved walking up their first volcano and stamping in the snow at the top.
We had to pop back in to Santiago for a few nights before flying home, and we managed to have a great final meal to celebrate the end of our adventures. Overall it was a fun way to finish our year overseas!
After the smogginess of Santiago we were keen for some fresh sea breezes, so we headed to Viña del Mar, which is a few hours away on the coastline. We decided to stay put here for the final 2 months of our trip (with one final excursion to come before we fly home).
We were lucky to find a beautiful apartment 5 minutes away from the beach, with lovely sunset views each night. Nelly and Clementine started another pre-school, and as usual they flourished and thrived amongst their new friends. In fact, some weekends they actually complained that they'd rather be in school than hanging with us on the beach...
We occupied our time by starting work on some new side-projects, snoozing on the beach, and sampling the local restaurants a few times a week.
All in all, it was a fantastic spot to spend some time for the last stretch of our 12 month adventure.
We had originally intended to stay in Valparaíso with the kids, but were convinced to stay instead in nearby Viña del Mar, and commute over to see the sights on the local bus.
This turned out to be excellent advice as the city is definitely scenic and atmospheric, but also very hilly, a bit dodgy in places, and quite piss-smelling!
Instead we headed into Valpo a every few weeks to walk amongst the graffitied walls, and to have lunch in some excellent restaurants. Here are some of our favourite street scenes.
One of the first things we noticed about Santiago was the pollution.
Sitting at the base of the Andes, the smog of this capital city has nowhere to go - it just hangs around. So, although there were plenty of parks and green spaces to hang out in, we were reluctant to spend too much time in the haze of the city.
We ventured out of the city to get our outdoor fix and did a good hike at the foot of the Andes, where the air was thankfully much cleaner.
Now we've moved to the coast at Viña del Mar - but more on that next time...