On Saturday 28th December, after a crazy day riding bikes in the desert for eighty kilometers, Cindy, PJ, Yoann and I chilled and planned our NYE. First of, we bought our tickets to Viña del Mar for the same evening. The plan was to stay at the beach in a camping and spend NYE in Valparaiso. Accommodation during the few days around eNYE are just ridiculous, up to four or five times the normal price. So we decided to rent a ‘cabana’ in a camping that the four of us would shared.
Leaving San Pedro de Atacama on Saturday afternoon, we spent the next twenty five hours in the bus, making it in Viña del Mar at five o’clock on Sunday. There we asked the tourist information were to find a camping ground. They indicated us to take a bus to Reñaca, a city a bit further north. With some kind of map we took a ‘collectivo’ bus and reached Reñaca within minutes. Arriving there, we realised it was the place were all people with money would stay. It reminded me a lot of south of France like Nice or Saint Tropez, atmosphere wise. We stopped were we wanted, at the top of a hill, but quickly realised the camping ground was inexistent! We asked few people around who sent us to various direction but it the end there was no camping grounds in Reñaca… great!
Luckily, after speaking to a very nice local from Santiago, we got indicated a place that was renting our ‘cabanas’ for a reasonable price. And it was well located, only three hundred meters from the beach. The place was quite big with two room, a living room, a kitchen, bathroom and some kind if backyard. It seems the place is rented most of the year to long term students and, during holiday season, they are making them available for tourist. A bit dusty and old but we didn’t need anything better. After dropping our bags and taking a well-deserved shower, we checked out the beach and the surrounding. The owner of the cabins confirmed that Reñaca is the place were the rich and famous are, staying away from any pity crime that could happen in Viña del Mar. We got that same feeling when we visited the town but we liked it a lot. PJ, Cindy and Yoann didn’t see the ocean for quite a while as they worked in the Bolivian jungle for a month. They felt a huge difference with the high altitude and the mountains of Bolivia. Me, on the other hand, I saw the ocean not too long ago and despite feeling the difference of altitude, didn’t feel like it was another holidays. However after few days in the sun, at the beach, I really felt like this was something different. A holiday within a holiday. We enjoyed the beach and the sunset, had dinner and went to bed early.
On Monday we all agreed to do nothing and just enjoy a lazy day at the beach. And so we did. No need to bother going to Viña del Mar, we had a nice beach right were we stayed. We woke up late but didn’t care, got a quick breakfast and made our way to the beach. And we pretty much stayed there the whole day. The sun was out and the weather was great. The ocean however had a lot of wind and created a lot of shore break wave, making it almost impossible to swim. Mind you, the water temp was quite low so we were not missing a lot.
After another nice sunset and dinner, PJ, Cindy and I decided to go out. It turned out to be quite complex as there was almost nothing open. We got lucky asking people around, who were mainly telling us to party in Viña del Mar, and we found the single nightclub open in town. The music was good and the atmosphere ok but everyone was just observing each other, a lot of people wanting to dance but wouldn’t risk it, scared to be judge. It didn’t take me long to go crazy on the dance floor and everyone followed. We had a great night and even made some new friends there.
Tuesday 31st December, NYE is finally here. The day started in Reñaca, then we finally visited Viña del Mar. I went to an internet cafe to find out where I could catch-up with my OZ friends at night and was nervous to check the UFC results between Weidman and Silva 2. Like all the fans, I got totally shocked by the results but the beautiful day managed to make me forget it quickly. The plan was to meet Jenni and Jemma at 10pm in front of a pub in Valpo. Once done with internet we went around the city and headed towards the beach. Got some fast food for lunch and ice cream. The beach was packed as you can imagine with such a nice weather but we still found a spot to rest. The waves were slightly smaller then Reñaca due to the orientation of the swell so we went for a swim. The water was very cold yet we stayed there a little while. Even Yoann who wasn’t keen on the cold water went there for ages as he was having so much fun getting smashed by the shore break. The wind was quite strong and we saw few big umbrellas flying and landing on people few meters away; luckily there was no accident. We did spend most of the afternoon there and then went back to Reñaca to get ready for the evening party. A bus ride later, we were already partying in a ‘day club’ facing the beach. This place reminded me so much Australia for some reason: outdoor pub with sand, a DJ and multiple level, right in front of the beach. As time passed, the crowd started to join us and it wasn’t long before the atmosphere went up. We met few locals and got the idea of a challenge for the night: we had to take as many pictures as we could with heaps of people asking them to do the lama with their hands. We stayed a couple of hours, then went home to get ready for the evening. Our theme was to wear an hand-drawn moustache and a carnival mask, we all did and looked great. The sun was way down by then so we headed towards Valpo. But then somehow we managed to split. PJ and I left to the bus as Cindy forgot her money and Yoann went back with her. So the agreement was to meet in 5mins in front of Maccas. PJ and I quickly went in the internet cafe next door (to indicate my OZ friends I was running late) and basically didn’t manage to catch-up with the two Cindy and Yoann. So PJ and I took the bus to Valpo, tried to meet with my OZ friends, in vain (later on they told me they never found the place). So we followed the crowd to watch the fireworks. We walked up a street and got to a mirador where the crowd was nicely lined up and waited. Then I saw a couple of mobile toilets and a roof right above it and decided to go up to have an even better view. PJ joined me and we had the best view! The others in the streets were jealous and booed us but we just couldn’t care less. Actually right before the fireworks started some fifteen odd people joined us on the tin roof and it went off! Everyone was saying the fireworks in Valpo is great and I have to admit, it was fantastic. We had the view of five fireworks going along the coast, the one in Valpo was really close and loud and the atmosphere awesome. It lasted a while, we all had a blast, taking pictures, cheering and drinking on that tin roof and we went down went it finished.
The party was just starting. A band started playing on that same street so everyone danced at once, it was so good. PJ and I stayed there dancing for a while, enjoying the local music and the happiness of the crowd. There was no better place to be! The fireworks is Sydney is world class, I have done it few times, but you will not find people dancing in the street like in Valparaiso. We danced and danced for a long time, then decided to move on and go down to a place where everyone was hanging out. Turns out the atmosphere wasn’t as good, there were heaps of people but no music, a lot of them urinating in the middle of the street, so it kind of put the mood down a bit. We met an English guy who wanted to catch-up with his mates who were right were we where for the fireworks. We danced a bit more than went down looking for a club. On our way, PJ and I crashed in a house were they were playing some instruments so we joined them for a bit. Everyone seems so nice. Later, as we lined up to grab some late night food, I spotted randomly in the crowd, Jerome, a French guy I met a weeks ago in Isla del Sol when we crossed the Bolivian border. The crowd was packed but I still recognised him; it’s a small world but I wasn’t too surprised as we all follow the same trip (see my post on ‘gringo trail’). He was so blind he took him ages to see then recognise me too. He could hardly walk. He told me that he lost his mate (Julien) earlier on and that he had no clue where he was staying. But then he told me something I couldn’t believe: not only he knew Jenni and Jemma, my OZ friends I was supposed to catch-up on that night, but he and Julien were staying with them in Viña del Mar. Now, what are the odds this happen huh? I asked him where he stayed in order to see them but he had absolutely no idea (which turned out to be a headache for him to get back home). So we decided to go clubbing. By the beach there were all the clubs next to another. We got in one that was playing ragga, dancehall and soca music. It was cool but the crows was too young. Not long after getting in, Jerome left without a sign while PJ and I stayed a bit more. Around six o’clock we decided to go home. The sun was starting to appear, the streets were still full of party people and littering of all sorts. We manage to get a bus fairly quickly and got home half an hour or so later. There, we saw Cindy and Yoann, already asleep and we did the same.
The next day, on New Year day, we all woke up at different times. Yoann left early to go to the beach while PJ, Cindy and I had breakfast and joined him later. We found out that after Cindy and Yoann couldn’t find us at Maccas, they went close to the beach of Viña del Mar for the fireworks, tried to party there but not much was happening so they went back to Reñaca and partied at the club we went in the day before. They got home at around three o’clock. So on that first of January we decided to see Con-Con, a beach further north famous for its seafood. The day turned out to be a headache as we couldn’t get proper seafood as we wanted, there was just too many people to be served at every restaurant, and the beach was really disappointing so we went back to our favourite beach and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening there.
Compared to last year that started in a bad way, I have the feeling 2014 is going to be really good. A lot of changes are already in the making and I definitely plan to enjoy it as much as I can. Hope it will be a great year for you too!