Saturday, October 13, 2012

Te amo Viña

Monday the 15th is the holiday here, so I decided that I wanted to spend part of the weekend away from Santiago.  I didn´t have any classes on Friday, so I took off to Viña del Mar for a few days.

Of course TurBus raised the prices on all the tickets since it was a long weekend, but I lucked out.  While most tickets cost 5.000 pesos each way  (about 10 bucks), I found tickets for 1.000 pesos each way (2 bucks).  It was with a company called Condor, and the bus departed from Terminal Sur.  I had never been there before, but the ticket agent assured me that it was right next to the main terminal at the Universidad de Santiago station.  After arriving and asking for directions she was right, and I settled into my seat and napped until I arrived.

Getting to the bed and breakfast I booked was a bit more challenging that I was expecting, but after some walking and asking for directions I got a colectivo and it was a short walk from where they dropped me off.  The bed and breakfast is run by a couple: Carlos from Santiago and Gisela originally from Germany.  It´s in a quiet area and it´s a short walk from downtown, and I´m really enjoying it.

After settling in and taking a nap I decided to get a late lunch at an Italian restaurant that my Let´s Go Chile book recommends.  It was about a 25 minute walk, but definitely worth it.  The restaurant was a bit fancy and caters to a bit of an upper class crowd.  I felt a bit out of place with my jeans and sneakers, but they still gave excellent service.  I rarely eat out at fancy places, but the meal was worth every peso: fresh bread right out of the oven, an amaretto sour, and delicious fettucini alfredo.

I haven´t posted about interesting bathrooms in a while, and here I definitely came across one:

It took me some time to figure out how to get the ¨faucet¨ to work, and it turns out that there´s a button on the floor I had to press:

After that adventure I was ready to move on and see what else the day had in store for me.    I had already seen the touristy things in Viña, but I didn´t want to go back yet.  It was only about 4:45 after all.  Then I noticed the Viña del Mar Casino.

I have to admit that I like the thrill of gambling and possibly winning money, and so I decided to check it out. It seemed strange to me that you had to pay an entrance of 3.800 pesos (about 7 dollars) to get in, but I figured it would be worth it for the cultural experience.

Inside it was like a casino in Vegas: marble floors, red carpets, lots of slot machines, cocktail waitresses, and people gambling.  One thing that surprised me was that there were separate smoking and nonsmoking sections, but it was a pleasant surprise.  (You can learn a lesson from Chile, Vegas!)

There was also a gambling reward card, and so I decided to get one.  They asked for my basic information, and a few minutes later I had one!  I doubt that I will ever gamble enough to get any considerable rewards from it, but it´s still cool to have the card.

After exploring I decided to give my luck a chance.  I walked around and found a slot machine that I liked: Zeus.  The reason I chose it was because I have a game that I play with my young students called Zeus on the Loose, and a few of them are in love with the game.

So I put in 5.000 pesos (about 10 dollars), and I made the largest bet with the most number of lines possible.  I didn´t win anything and noticed that it was over 2.000 pesos for that bet alone, so I started lowering it.  A few bets went by with nothing, then I won barely enough to keep me in the game.  Then two bets later I hit a small jackpot!  I got up to 14.100 pesos (about 28 dollars), and I cashed out.

After exchanging the ticket for the cash, I decided to push my luck a bit further.  When I went back the Zeus slot machine I was at was occupied, so I went to an identical one a few machines away.  I put in 3.000 pesos (about 6 bucks), and after about 4 bets I hit a mini jackpot and won 7.650 pesos (about 15 bucks).  I once again cashed out and left happily with my earnings.

It was about 5:45, and I took a leisurely stroll back to the bed and breakfast.  Along the way I browsed in some shops, and one of them was a vintage clothing store.  They had a variety of completely random t shirts from North Carolina: boy scouts, a pizza place, a gym, and a few other places I can´t remember.  It was a bit strange because my brother and sister in law moved there a few months ago, and I also have a few good friends that live there.

I contemplated going out for some drinks at night, but it got surprisingly cold once the sun went down.  I also didn´t get to know anyone else staying at the bed and breakfast, so I was content to stay in, catch up on some reading, and update my blog.

Today´s agenda is also pretty wide open: I might meet up with some friends who are in the area or some other friends who want to get lunch.  I want to go back to the casino, but I also want to walk and explore the coastline and beauty of this picturesque escape from Santiago.

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