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  • Writer's pictureMarielle Velander

MONTHLY UPDATE 01: From NYC to Valparaiso

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

On Saturday, December 17, I kicked off my long-awaited trip around the world with a direct one-way flight from Berlin to NYC…to be on the road indefinitely 😨 A little scary for sure, but also I’ve never felt more free. This is a copy of my monthly newsletter, in which I'll share what I've been up to the past few weeks and where I'm planning to go next. Make sure to sign up at the bottom of the page to get the next edition straight in your inbox. Here we go!

Stop 1: NYC 🇺🇸

In NYC I was received by my dear friend Aida. The morning after I arrived we ate fresh bagels while watching the exciting World Cup final between Argentina and France. My heart was a bit torn, but in the end I rooted for Argentina because it’s in my plans to visit them soon. After the game ended, we strolled through Greenwich Village, and celebrated Argentina's win with New Yorkers of all backgrounds and walks of life. The next day we had time for a matcha at Cha Cha Matcha and a walk along the Highline before I had to run for my bus to Vienna, VA.

Stop 2: Virginia 🇺🇸

In Vienna, VA, I reunited with dear friends who now are part of my family. My second mother, Erika, treated me to finally seeing Wicked at the Kennedy Center, and a delicious early Christmas meal at Founding Farmers. From Vienna, I continued to Ashland, VA, to meet the utterly charming 6-month old Anya and her wonderful parents, long-time friends. During the freezing cold days I was there we played with the baby and made creme brûlée from scratch.

Stop 3: Florida 🇺🇸

On Christmas Eve I flew from Richmond, VA, to Sarasota, FL, to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with my parents, grandmother, and aunt. I had a wonderful 10 days with plenty of precious family time and some beach walks. On New Years Day my dad and I departed for Miami, so I could catch my flight to Chile on the morning of Jan 2.

Stop 4: Santiago 🇨🇱

I arrived in Santiago via a brief layover in Bogota, landing late at night. I stayed at the very comfortable Yogi Hostel in the Providencia neighborhood. My first day was packed with the highlights of this busy city sprawled between the Andes and the coastal mountain range.

After a flat white and palta con pan (avocado toast - a typical Chilean breakfast rather than simply hipster fodder here!) I strolled along the Mapocho river, admiring the street art. I walked through Barrio Bellavista, the neighborhood where Neruda used to live, and ordered a chirimoya juice and machas (Chilean clams served with melted parmesan on top) at shady Viva La Vida restaurant. Rejuvenated by my snack, I took the cable car up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, the highest point in the city.

After admiring the view of the Andes towering beyond the city, I was ready for some art. Following a brief walk through Parque Forestal, I went to Museo de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporario, for a fascinating range of exhibitions featuring different South American artists. A siesta later, I was hungry for dinner, and very satisfied with the quinoa salad, steak tartare, and Casas Patronales Carignan from Baco.

The next day I explored Cerro Santa Lucia, a hilltop tower and 19th century fort in the center of the city with a beautiful view. I strolled through Plaza de Armas and grabbed a traditional Chilean sandwich (un chacarero con churrasco) at Elkaki, a German-themed sandwich restaurant frequented by local. After that I took the speedy and convenient metro to Pajaritos bus station to grab my bus to Valparaiso.

Stop 5: Valparaiso 🇨🇱

I arrived to Valparaiso in the afternoon and immediately grabbed a micro (mini-bus that serves as public transportation between towns here) to get to Reñaca, a beach where my hosts were spending their day off. I looked like a true backpacker there with my backpacks and hiking boots in tow!

After a beautiful afternoon on the beach I could settle into my home for the next 2-3 weeks: a private room in a gorgeous 20th floor apartment overlooking the historic and artsy port town of Valparaiso as compensation for volunteering to help run penguin and surfing tours.

Since I’ve arrived to volunteer for Go Penguins, I’ve run at least 4 penguin tours and 2 surfing tours. I’ve already had the chance to see Humboldt penguins and sea lions up close, experience (and fall in love with) paragliding, develop skill in sand boarding, take a surfing course, and become adept at preparing Chilean specialities like pisco sour (a popular cocktail here) and pebre (a salsa that is added to anything savory). I’ve also met so many interesting locals and travelers. Grateful for this opportunity! If you visit Chile, definitely check out Go Penguins.

On my days off I visited the poet Pablo Neruda’s Valparaiso home, La Sebastiana, and explored Valparaiso’s famous street art and nightlife. A highlight has been the live cueca and tango music at Bar Cinzano, a mainstay in the city since 1896. I’ll be sharing a blog post later on with my top Valparaiso recommendations because there are too many. I also enjoyed the beaches of Vina del Mar, a neighboring resort town, and the vineyards of Casablanca Valley, a verdant region that produces unique wines thanks to the valley’s position near the coastal mountain range. I especially recommend the family-run winery Villard.

Where to next?

Over the next month I'll be venturing into the untouched wilderness of Patagonia, the mystical islands of Chiloe, the altitudes of the Atacama desert, and finally enter Bolivia to experience Carnaval de Oruro. I couldn't be more excited! Make sure to sign up for my next newsletter to get the next update right in your inbox.

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