Valdivia, Chile

A University city, at the junction of three rivers,Valdivia is a delightful place to relax and explore.

 

With rainy weather moving into Patagonia, we caught an express bus to Valdivia. For two hours we motored up the Pan America highway, a tediously straight tollway that looks exactly like highway 99 in the Central Valley of California. We stopped briefly in Osorno, the southern gateway to Argentina, and continued north. We eventually left PanAm and took a two lane highway over rolling hills towards the coast. Again, the image was that of California, this time the Napa Valley. We even passed vineyards as we came into the lush valley which is the setting for Valdivia.

We had learned that Tourist Information Offices have agents who know the hotels, have the correct pricing, and who speak English. There was one in the bus station, and soon the friendly agent connected us with a small, but well located hotel. The hotel was within walking distance, as is most of downtown Valdivia, and we enjoyed the tree lined sidewalk, beside the Calle Calle River, that took us to our lodging.

A quick change, and we continued walking beside the river to the market district. Across the river, we could see the buildings of Universidad Austral de Chile, and in the river the rowing crew practiced in their shells. The sidewalk became a promenade and waterfront park, and we joined dozens of other vacationers enjoying the floating restaurants and snack shops and examining the produce in the canvas covered marketplace.

Valdivia is full of coffee shops, various restaurants and shaded parks conducive to hanging out. It seemed very upscale to us, coming from the rural south in Patagonia. Santiago would later seem even more so.

On our second day in Valdivia, we caught a bus to the coast, about ten miles away. It was a rugged coastline, not particularly conducive to swimming. At the river mouth were two fortresses, built by the Dutch in the 1600s, to protect its interest in that part of Chile. They are tourist attractions, and we did the obligatory tour of Castillo de Nebla.

We finished our time in Valdivia by visiting a Chilean steak house where we enjoyed a perfectly grilled sirloin steak. The effusive waiter brought numerous complimentary extras including "Matte," the herbal tea of South America, and a couple of apƩritifs.

Bus attendant

Bus attendants collect tickets and money and check luggage. They are used on all but the most local of buses.

 

Cheese

Chileans eat a good bit of cheese. Most are soft cheeses. 1,000 pesos is $2, so one can easily calculate the price per kilo.

Fish in the market.

With its coastline more than 2,600 miles long, good fish is always on display in the market. Displayed here, mackerel and hake.

 

Conger Eel

When I first tried the conger eel, I was expecting the small, bony fish of my childhood in Taiwan. Conger eels are large, delicious, and not bony, very similar to ling cod in flavor.

Kunstman Brewery

Kunstman brews several varieties of German styled beer, and it is popular all over Chile. We stopped at their brewery outside Valdivia, for a draught and a German plate of sausages and kraut.

 

Plaza in Valdivia

Valdivia is well suited to walking, and loitering.

 

Chocolate shop in Valdivia.

We found Chilean chocolate beautiful to look at, but it was not pleasant to our palette.

 

Rowing a shell in the Valdivia River.

The university rowing club members stayed on campus to practice during their summer vacation.

 

Riverfront boardwalk in Valdivia.

Waterfront restaurants and snack bars on the Valdivia River.

 

Castillo de Nebla fort.

Castillo de Nebla is a fort built by the Dutch to control access to the river.

Children dressed as pirates.

Apprentice soldiers quickly adapted to their roles.

 

Soldiers at the fort.

These soldiers took a more perfunctory view of their station.

Distances to the world.

At a pub, backpackers are made aware of their location in the world.