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Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

My wife, 11 year old daughter and I ventured onward to Vina Del Mar, Chile this past Christmas vacation of 2013. Due to rave reviews from friends/expats in the US, we have been talking about visiting here for quite a while. We were sorely underwhelmed by this place in the world, to say the least.

Let me begin by asking your reasons for wanting to visit Vina del Mar. If you have to go for business and the company is picking up the tab, well okay. There are worse places. If you are going to discover new culture, fine architecture, great beaches and interesting people, there are 1,000 better places. If you are from the US and taking a family vacation here, willingly, I would ask you to make an appointment with a neurologist.

There is nothing about Vina Del Mar that even remotely has an edge over the most basic of budget beach resorts at the Jersey Shore. All the beaches, in and around this area are dumpy and dirty. Many as well reek of urine, either from the horse drawn carriages, stray dogs or homeless people in and around the area. They're just NOT at all pretty. You walk out on the rocks on the beach at Renaca and find trash and more urine smell, at one time so pungent I nearly vomited. Want to go swimming? We were there on the first day of summer, Dec 21, and it was pretty cold just to walk around. But even in the height of their short summer months, January and February, the water remains Ice-Cap bitter cold due to the area's proximity to the Antarctic.

This is NOT a family vacation destination, especially if you have US teens. The restaurants are mediocre to good, but in some areas downright awful. There are 2 Starbucks in Vina thank God. You can not get a decent cup of Joe anywhere in this God forsaken country. We ordered a very mediocre lunch in a "café" on Liberdad (one of the main drags) with some Café con Leche. The waiter arrived with instant coffee, a pot of hot water and 2 milk cartons.......and if that wasn't comical enough, one afternoon we ordered omelettes and a cheese sandwich. We all received ham and "cheese of the day" sandwiches and the waiter ran away after placing them on our table. Yes, I do speak pretty good Spanish and ordered correctly, this is just an extremely odd country, and that being said, there is more................

A man came up to us as we were walking to dinner one night down 5 Norte, waving his hands at me as he got closer. Each hand contained a large nail. He was insisting I listen to something which sounded like the beginning of a zealous, inspired personal discourse on the death of Christ, and he waved the nails in my face for a moment before we all walked off. It took us a little while after some laughter to try and figure out what he was attempting to say. Did he want to sell us the nails for 1000 pesos? Why not? Various people walk around selling random band-aids, so why not nails? Perhaps he wanted a hammer? Help putting up some new shelving in his home? Nope, it was probably about some religious fanaticism, which breeds a somewhat puritanical and conservative air to the place. My 11 year old daughter wore typical US teen tights and a t-shirt one afternoon and the doorman stopped me, saying she was dressed inappropriately and requested she change. Whattttt?????!!! The same doorman hassled a younger woman for entering the building, wearing a skirt on the short side with boots. This, as an American, I found most bizarre.

In a nutshell, we were in Vina Del Mar as an American family for 8 days, and it was 8 days too long. It is old, smelly, and dumpy, lacking in character. One post I read before arriving there compared Vina Del Mar to Barcelona. What a farce! Barcelona is a beautiful European city and Vina Del Mar is a dump; an armpit comparatively to Barcelona.

Don't waste your time traveling to Vina Del Mar, nor its neighboring towns like Valparaiso or Renaca, which are even dumpier. Valparaiso is so old, decrepit and run down it looks like a hellish version of San Francisco in 1960 during a garbage pick up strike.

84 replies to this topic
Saratoga Springs, NY
Level Contributor
159 posts
6 reviews
1. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

My God! Next time stay in the US. Lining in lovely Saratoga Springs, I never compare it to places where we travel. We are travelers; it sounds like you are tourists. Also, do some research before going to another country. Perhaps you should have gone to Pizza Hut or McDonalds rather than, as a traveller does, sample the local fare. Regarding clothing, travelers respect the country to which they travel. Enjoy Stamford while we who have found the beauty of Chile enjoy our time here.

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
2. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

Hi Grouchy,

Seems like you've missed the point of the whole review. It was not a total criticism of Chile. In fact, we went to Algarobbo and thought it was charming. Really enjoyed the worlds largest pool there and had it all to ourselves for a short period of time. Notice by really reading what I wrote, that it was critical of Vina and its surrounding areas. We hear southern Chile is beautiful and more for, as you say, true travelers.

Also notice, that I never wrote about comparing Vina to someone else's vision of US fast-food utopia. I've never been to either a Pizza Hut or a MacDonalds, so cannot comment on that. Also read, that we tried much of the "local fare," as you say, and as well noted that some places were very good.......but truly, most of Vina Del Mar really just sucks. So if you like it, thats just great.

My review is there to warn Americans with style, who have traveled to places different from the US and love to do so, like us, that Vina is old, dingy and smelly, and not worth spending their hard earned money getting to. We have traveled extensively through central America, especially Panama, which is at least 30 years ahead of VIna in all ways. I did not think it fair to compare such a place as Vina to a small European town; even anywhere in Santiago. Its just not true, and people should know what they are getting into.

I am attempting to get across how pathetic the "local fare" is in this area of Chile, and hopefully may adequately warn people that its just not worth the trip. Many others agree as far as I can read here.

I do enjoy Stamford, thanks! Its a great city! You enjoy Saratoga springs! Its nice up there. Chill out dude...

Tyler

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
3. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

PS - You sound like a man trying to hide something.... do you sell Chilean Real Estate?

; ) Ty

Reykjavik, Iceland
1 post
2 reviews
4. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

I have to admit that the smell of urine does pervade the place. I fail to see how a ride in a horse carriage might be regarded as charming... Don't they ever wash the poor beasts? I found it a very weird place. I walked for 4 hours and spotted only about 6 hotels. The tourism office had 5 agents and no clients when I walked in. And this was high season (January), too I would have left, but it was late and I was exhausted. I could not imagine spending 8 days here. You should have taken a bus out after the first night and gone to some place like Pucon or Futaleufu.

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
5. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

Yes it is a dreadful place, and that was very disappointing for us. What actually saved the day however was our trip to the large pool at Algarobbo, San Alfonso Del Mar. It was beautiful there and we had a nice time. I wrote a review on that here too and supplied plenty of photos. Thanks for writing!

Fairfax Station...
Level Contributor
1 post
71 reviews
29 helpful votes
6. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

My husband and I just came back from spending two nights in Vina del Mar. I was quite concerned about going there after reading these highly critical posts. We were coming back from Easter Island and just wanted a nice place to relax after our strenuous touring schedule on Easter Island. Although we didn't stay here long, we enjoyed it very much. We walked and walked along the seaside walk, ate at seafood restaurants with beautiful sea views and good food, and talked to many kind local people. We didn't get the bad smells that other travelers ran into. We enjoyed visiting ConCon to view the sea lions and drove up the coast to view the Humboldt penguins and birds at the reserve. We found the landscaping in Vina beautiful and got a chuckle out of the gigantic calla lily sculpture on the beach. We didn't find anything objectionable in Vina. Yes, there is graffiti, and yes there is some trash but this is an urban area and that is to be expected. We have traveled all over the world, and are older so obviously our perspective is a bit different then the previous poster. I would not suggest this is a town for hanging on the beach, there are many better places for that, but there are some interesting things to see here. The museum was fabulous, and we have rarely found a museum that gives you free parking right at it's door. I do think that they should get rid of the horse and carriage rides. That is so unnecessary and does add to the street dirt. All in all we enjoyed our short stay in Vina del Mar. In our opinion it is worth a quick look.

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,740 posts
30 reviews
116 helpful votes
7. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

A lot has to do with the season. In summer the tourists flood into Viña, mostly from other parts of Chile and from Argentina. Many young people try to sleep on the beach and party all night. Traffic becomes a nightmare. It is a lot harder for the city to cope.

I think you enjoyed the best of the activities around Viña and your assessment was spot on. I agree about the carriage rides. They are a leftover from a time when Viña was a lot smaller.

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
8. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

Well I would place the emphasis on "short" visit. Certainly if you are coming over as a layover from Easter Island Vina is tolerable. As well please note that there are few few warm months in Chile to boot ( hence it's name ! ). The locals told us that you can only expect really nice weather in January and February. The rest of the time it is chilly, damp and dingy.

We ate at one of the finer restaurants on the water, and it was pretty good one night. We went back for another dinner and I had the worst CHILEAN SEA BASS I have ever eaten ( I eat it in the states all the time ) so I thought that was pretty funny too.

The urine smell is centered around the town center off of 5th where homeless sleep in the park, and where the horse and carriages set up. The kids sleeping on the beach when we were there in December were vagabonds who did not seem like they had any $$$ for vacation nor drinks nor partying. We got hit up constantly for hand outs and it was pretty annoying.

Santiago, Chile
Destination Expert
for Chile
Level Contributor
11,740 posts
30 reviews
116 helpful votes
9. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

>>The locals told us that you can only expect really nice weather in January and February. The rest of the time it is chilly, damp and dingy. <<

I lived in Viña for a number of years and it was not my experience. Climate change?

At the end of the day, one poster disliked it intensely and another found it interesting for a short visit. Not everywhere is for everyone.

Stamford...
Level Contributor
25 posts
22 reviews
130 helpful votes
10. Re: Vina Del Mar should be renamed Vina del Urine: Not Good !

Well, being that the water is persistently freezing with Antarctic flows, which also gives the air a kind of snappy cool to it, its certainly not your best choice for a "beach get-away." Sure, a short visit anywhere is a short visit, and thats about all Vina has to offer, I'd say 2 days max. For the life of me I can not understand why someone would spend their hard earned $$$ to travel here from the US or Canada with the intention of vacationing solely in Vina and its surrounding towns when, for less $$$ and travel time, I can name 100 different places I have been to which have so much more to offer. I have not visited southern Chile, which I hear has spectacular beauty. From what I have heard, this is the place to go if you don't mind rustic surroundings as the beauty of southern Chile makes for a fabulous back-packing / camping vacation. I just found everything from Santiago to Vina Del Mar not worth the $$$ and travel effort, so I again say, BUYER BEWARE! Of course you are right, its all up to individual tastes................

Edited: 01 April 2014, 11:44
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