Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feliz Año - or Happy New Year - from Valparaiso: part 2

Origami birds, Valparaiso
We had agreed with the lady at the hostel that Nic would be allowed to sleep on the floor of the single room that we had booked, and when we moved into it, she happily showed him a piece of foam mattress that he could use to sleep on. It was only half size but would at least support his torso, and was better than just the floor. All Nic could focus on though was that it had childlike pictures of cats and mice on it - for some reason he found ths especially amusing and had to take a photo of it. In the end, we both squeezed into the single bed for the few hours sleep that we had, but it was good of her to try to help.

We spent some time in the hostel in the morning working out where we were going next and looking up the fire in Torres del Paine, which I have already posted about. We found a late lunch in a little place that looked a bit down at heel initially, but where the food was actually quite nice. It had lots of little origami birds hanging from the ceiling, which we assumed were supposed to be pelicans as we think that was what the name of the restaurant was.

New Year's Eve fireworks, Valparaiso
We were supposed to be going of to sightsee for a bit after lunch, but as Nic for some reason was finding it impossible to keep his eyes open, and as we were expecting a late night for New Year's Eve, we went back to the hostel so he could take a nap. When he resurfaced, we went back up to Conception.

Our meal that evening was in a restaurant called Cafe Vinilo. As is almost always the case for me, I couldn't eat the appetizer and starter on the set menu, but the guys were very helpful and made me alternatives that I could eat. And each course came with wine, so we were well looked after. The fact that the main course came with a bottle of red to share, which meant that Nic had to drink that himself while I bought an extra bottle of white was obviously most unfortunate, but we coped! As we sat in the restaurant, we could see all of the locals gradually making their way to find somewhere to sit and watch the fireworks, most taking with them food, lots of the with a big cool box presumably full of drink. We finished at about 11:20 pm and walked in the same direction the locals were.

New Year's Eve fireworks, Valparaiso

By about twenty to twelve we found a suitable spot to watch the fireworks down a side street where we could see down across the harbour and along the seafront. Nic accidentally walked in front of a few people trying to take a photo, which immediately prompted them to get us in the photo too and start a conversation. There was a group of about seven people, some of whom were already a bit worse for wear, but all were friendly and chatty. As usual they were interested in where we were from and where we were travelling, and we soon had some new, albeit it only very temporary, friends. One of the guys who had definitely had too much was very keen to share his drinks with use, so we had a few from a coke bottle that definitely had some alcohol in it, but not sure what, and some beer. We drew the line at the joint though!

New Year's Eve fireworks, Valparaiso

As we got to midnight, the countdown started, then the party poppers went off and the bubbly was sprayed, and everybody started wishing everybody else Feliz Año. Lots of hugs later, we settled into watch the fireworks. They were supposed to be the best in South America, and they probably were. There were certainly a lot of them, as they went on for almost twenty five minutes and huge numbers were set off at once. There was no attempt to put them to music or anything like that, and they focused on the big starbursts, but there was a nice variety of big bang ones, pretty glittery ones, ones that looked like planets and so forth. It was also good to be able to see along the coast, because as well as the ones right in front of you, you could see the neat round bursts of other displays in the nearby towns too. You really got the impression that there  were fireworks everywhere and I guess that was true.

We said goodbye to our new friends and set off back to the main bar area, expecting that although everywhere had closed for everyone to go watch the fireworks, they would now reopen. But nowhere did. So we slowly made our way back down the hill and through the town back to our hostel, watching the revelry as we went. We did manage to pick up some additional drinks on the way as the bottle shops were open, so we still ended up staying up until pretty late.

New Year's Day cake, Valparaiso

Obviously New Year's Day was a late morning, but we were given breakfast by the lasy at the B&B.  She was clearly very happy to be sharing breakfast witrh us, including the traditional , and rather sickly, New Year's Day cake.  Not sure it's the best thing after a night drinking, but we appreciated it nonetheless.

New Year's Eve leftovers, Valparaiso

After buying our bus tickets for the next day, we went back up to Cerro Conception and found a nice German cake place for a small late lunch, and just chilled out until our dinner booking at a French place that we hadn't been able to get into the first day.

Happy 2012.

Christmassy garden, Valparaiso

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