It was time to head out of town and a solid highway, lined with picturesque vineyards, got us to Valparaiso. After a pleasant lunch of congrio fish in Concon, just north of Vina del Mar, we began our tour. We started at the Muelle Prat, to look at the port, and saw the monument to naval heroes that died in Iquique in Plaza Sotomayor. From there we took an funiculer up the hill and explored the neighborhood with it's typical tin walls and multi-colored homes. Parts of this port city are slowly being gentrified and the cerros (hills) are full of little galeries, hostels and cafes. We continued with a surprisingly amusing visit to the Lukas museum, that features his drawings and caricatures. Then it was time to descend the hill. Our evening ended with a walk on the lively Viña del Mar boardwalk.
The next day we did an area tour of the beaches north of Viña. We made it all the way to Maitencillo where we had a fabulous lunch of Pastel de Jaiba- a thick creamy crab soup covered in cheese and baked; seafood soup, and abalone. One of the highlights so far, was on our way back to Santiago: we encountered dozens of pilgrims walking along the highway towards the Virgen de lo Vasquez church, whose pilgrimage day is celebrated on Dec 8.