Marc and I visited the beach resort town that was a short 15 minute train ride from Valparaíso. For being so close, these two towns are nothing alike. It’s the same contrast as Venice Beach vs Santa Monica. Valparaíso has an artsy, edgy feel. Viña del Mar is manicured, polished, and kind of commercial.
Apparently, the reason Viña del Mar is in such good shape is because it has a huge casino that pays a good amount of taxes. So what does that mean for us? Well, of course Marc had to gamble. Surprisingly, he walked out net positive! The first and only time we will have positive cash flow on this trip. So what did we decide to do with his winnings? Eat “fancy” Chinese food because Marc was craving rice. The Chinese person that greeted us as we left seemed extremely excited to see us. I’m going to guess he rarely sees Asian people in his restaurant. (As expected, the food was not great. Plus, the rice looked dirty.)
I forget how important Asian cuisine is to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with this issue (maybe when I first moved to UCSB but at least I had Asian snacks and a rice cooker there), but man, it’s hard to go for weeks without Asian food. I didn’t realize this when traveling in Asia of course because that’s all we ever ate. I also don’t realize when I work late, I order Thai, Japanese, or Vietnamese food at least twice a week (rarely Chinese though). I guess noodles and rice are really important staples in my life! It is probably the one thing I miss most.
Then we found a big shopping mall. It felt like we were back in the first world. There weren’t many other highlights to Viña del Mar other than really big pelicans. Only two interesting things about it: the Chilean presidential summer home is here and its sister city is Sausalito, California (I don’t know why).