Practical Tips for Traveling in Chile: Overnight Accommodations in Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and Santiago

Overnight Accommodations

  • Hostels
  • Hotels
  • (air bed and breakfast – global site that coordinates people who want to rent their apartment out for a few days)
  • Vacation Rentals by Owner:

Valparaíso (large city west of Santiago, fun, artsy place to stay; 20 minute bus ride from Viña del Mar)


Viña del Mar (beach city in the region of Valparaíso)

  • Hostal Villamar ($) – Website:; Email:;  Phone: 56(032)297 4404 – 56(032)317 4296. Convenient location near the beach.
  • Hotel Albamar ($$) – Website:; Email:; phone: 56(032)297 5274 or 56(032)273 7955; Address: San Martin 419, Viña del Mar. Great location near the beach and in the heart of the city center. Price estimates for March: US $90 for 2 people; US $120 for 4 people.
  • Casa Olga Bed & Breakfast ($$) – One person US $60 – range up to four people US $110.
  • Kalagen Hostel ($$) – matrimonial suite (queen/king bed), three-person, four-person, and dorm style hostel rooms. CH $10,300 for dorm style – up to CH $76,000+.
  • Hotel Cap Ducal ($$) – Historic hotel. Range CH $58,100-$87,100.
  • Che Lagarto Hostel ($) – CH $6,250-17,200.
  • Vista Hermosa ($$) – US $48-84 (CH $24,000-$42,000)
  • Residencia Offenbacher-hof ($$) – Ecohostal CH $30,000-60,000

Santiago (capital city)

  • Hotel Plaza Londres in Santiago Centro ($$) – (Website:; Phone: 56-02-26397621; Address: Londres 77, Santiago; Email: – in a beautiful British-style neighborhood in downtown, close to many things to do/sightseeing.
  • Mercure Hotels in downtown Santiago ($$) – (Website: or; Address: Av. Libertador O’Higgins 632; Phone: 56-02-25956622: Email: – in the heart of downtown, close to many things for sightseeing.
  • IBIS ($$) – (Webiste: Hotel in Providencia near Metro Manuel Montt and in Las Condes near Metro Manquehue; very accessible to use Metro public transportation to get around from these hotels, plus they are nice and affordable.
  • See a guidebook for more options, depending on where in the city you want to stay.


$ – less expensive price

$$ – medium-range price

$$$ – higher range price


Quick price conversion reference (as of 1/11/2015)

$10.000 chilean pesos = US $16.31

$613 chilean pesos = US $1


Practical Tips for Traveling in Chile: Transportation

Transport from Santiago Airport or Santiago to Valparaíso or Viña del Mar (or other cities)

  • Bus – most economical option
      • Recommended bus companies:
        • Centropuerto or Turbus – Take a Centropuerto or Turbus bus from the airport to the Metro Station “Pajaritos” which is also an inter-city Bus terminal; can also return to the Santiago airport on this bus from Metro Pajaritos
          • How to get tickets: When you arrive to the airport, ask where the Centropuerto buses are located, can get on and pay on the bus in Chilean pesos. Get off the bus at Metro Pajaritos.
          • Cost: $1,500 pesos (US $2.50) for a one-way ticket
        • At the Metro Pajaritos Station in Santiago there are various bus companies selling bus tickets to various cities throughout Chile, and I tend to buy tickets at Turbus, Pullman, or Condor. You can also book your ticket online in advance (e.g.
          • How to get tickets: you can buy tickets at the company window at Metro Pajaritos or other offices throughout Santiago (confirm the time, date, and seat # at the window). Buses tend to be leaving every 5-15 minutes, so you can pretty much show up and get your bus ticket for the next available bus.
          • Cost: usually between $2,500 and $6,500 pesos (US $4 – $10.50) for a one-way ticket to Viña del Mar or Valparaíso from Santiago.
    • Tripda ridesharing service – Tripda allows people to offer trips from City to City and riders to find a ride with someone, often for a fee set by the driver (Website:
  • Rental car
    • Ask at the airport or look online.
    • Keep in mind that most cars in Chile are stick shift/mecánico (not automatic/automático), so if you only drive automatic, specify that.


Public and Alternative Transportation in Chile

  • Metro system in Santiago – you can get a one-way ticket at the ticket office (boletería) in the metro station. If you buy a Metro card (tarjeta Bip!), you can just recharge it when you need to take the metro or bus in Santiago. You can plan your metro trip and view the metro map here: Metro fares are between $1.00 to $1.20 ($640 to $720 pesos) depending on the time of day.
  • Bus system in Santiago (Transantiago) – the public transportation buses are called “micros”, as in, “I am going to take the bus downtown” (“voy a tomar la micro al centro”). A metro card (tarjeta Bip!) is needed in order to pay for the bus ride in Santiago. You can plan your bus trip or view the map here: Bus fares are between $1.00 to $1.20 ($640 to $720 pesos) depending on the time of day.
  • Colectivos in Santiago and the Valparaíso region – cars that resemble taxis, but they have fixed routes, which are indicated on the signs on the top of the cars. The colectivos have a fixed rate depending on the distance and time of day you travel.
  • Taxis – taxis in Santiago tend to be safe and relatively cheap, in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, they are a bit more expensive.
  • Uber – Uber cars are a recent thing in Chile. You must have the Uber app and a Smartphone with GPS in order to use them.
  • Bus system (micros) in the region of Valparaíso – I recommend asking a local if you plan to use the buses because the information available online is a bit confusing, but locals tend to know. Website: Bus fares in Viña and Valparaíso tend to be 50 cents to 80 cents ($350 to $500 pesos) depending on the distance.


Zigla en Seminario “Creación de Valor Compartido” / Chile

Last week in Chile was the launch of the report titled: Shared Value in Chile: Increasing Private Sector Competitiveness by Solving Social Problems (Spanish version available at: ; English version will be available soon!)

Inversión Social Estratégica

Esta mañana se desarrolló el Seminario “Creación de Valor Compartido” organizado por la Universidad del Desarrollo y la Subsecretaría de Economía del Gobierno de Chile. El evento se desarrolló en el Hotel Intercontinental de Santiago de Chile, y asistieron más de 500 personas. Además el Seminario fue transmitido por el streaming de

El seminario partió con las palabras de bienvenida de Federico Valdés, Rector de la U. del Desarrollo y las de Katia Trusich, Subsecreataria de Economía, para luego entrar a la presentación de Mark Kramer, Co-fundador FSG.

Mark Kramer presentó el concepto Valor Compartido que se basa en el artículo original “Creando valor compartido” que él escribió junto al profesor Michael Porter, para la revista Harvard Business Review.

Mark Kramer señaló que Valor Compartido no es responsabilidad social, filantropía, ni sustentabilidad, sino una nueva forma de lograr éxito económico. El Valor Compartido se refiere a políticas y prácticas…

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Guest blog: On what that first half marathon meant

My sister, Lara, submitted this post reflecting on her first half marathon…. read along!

Some pre-partying before the big day
Some pre-partying before the big day

Nearly three weeks have passed since we ran 13.1 miles along a misty, warm San Francisco Bay. Reflecting on the joy this all has brought to my life over the last few months, I realize how much I needed it. I was at a crossroads in life – leaving the comfort of my college town, the security of always knowing what was next… and coming to a point where I’m seeing the world in transition, I’m open to new things and also nervous of the unknowns, experiencing the movement of friends to new jobs and loved ones to distant countries, and myself starting a new job at Five Acres. I was trying to find community and something to ground me in a world of change. I was seeking health and balance after a stressful period in my life. And what the heck, perhaps I’d meet someone special along the way. Little did I know what I was getting into, but so happy I did!

There’s a sense of community, fun, ambition, and love that I’ve found in my running group and my running friends. We understand something fundamental about one another, without words even needing to be spoken. But as I’ve become closer to my running friends, I see something in common that motivates us – we want something better for ourselves and to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I used to work out alone, and while I still enjoy my alone time on the road (or the grass, the detour I often take), there’s something unique about a group of people who will wake up to meet at 7 a.m. at the Rose Bowl and run together for two hours. There’s something unique about people that start out running a few miles and then quickly envision 13 miles, then 26, then 31, then 50.

I’m in constant awe of those around me. It only took a week for me to decide, through subtle positive peer pressure… sure! I’ll do a half marathon with you in San Francisco! With the Pacers, you feel like you can do anything. From there began the training with Barry and Natalia. From there I met Jose. From there my friends and family started to see and hear from me a little less, but I hope that when they did I was more content in my heart, my body, my mind. I’ll spare you the details right now of my actual workouts and regimen, perhaps for another time if you’re curious. But what was incredible to me was the little things that happened in my life that made me appreciate what I was doing and the people whose encouragement moved me forward each of those 13 miles.

People come into your life at different times for different reasons, just as there’s an ebb and flow to the sea. I had been spending much time with my dear friend Emma during her whole debacle breaking her ankle and I wanted to make sure she had someone there for her while she was bored sitting at home. We would go to the movies, eat popcorn, get our nails done, and talk. She actually cried the first time we went to the movies because she was so grateful to have something to do. Her boyfriend Tony and little Ricky were there for her nearly daily, but she and I got our once a week outings in and they were fun. I felt a little guilty inside, being able to run and work out meanwhile she was confined to her leg brace. But I did what I could to be there for her. And now that her cast is off, she’s getting in the pool and finding her former child Olympian coming back. Different strokes for different folks, right? She was probably the biggest influence early on. If I have health and ability, I should make use of this gift that not everyone has at this moment.

Second was Barry, my friend who had just finished his first half marathon in Hollywood the month before, who encouraged me to join Pacers. My colleague Lizette tells me it’s always good to train with someone who challenges you and someone you can bring up. We met Natalia from Columbia after about two weeks and found out she was also planning to do the SF half marathon in July. It was April at the time. July, I thought… that’s four months away, I can do this… and so I invited Barry and me on her trip north. Then I met Jose at a Pacer Chaser (yes, we like to have fun and go drinking after a run once per month). A sweet, guapo Chilean in my Pasadena running group? I couldn’t believe it. Neither could he! (If you know me, you know my sister is in Chile marrying a Chilean next spring.) Soon, Jose was meeting my sister, my friends, and added to the trip.

We all pushed each other forward, showing up early Saturday mornings, stretching, and then sweating it out on the run. Marianne is our other running buddy who I ran my first 10 miles with. She encouraged Barry and me to run in the 9 minute per mile group, which turned out to be the 8 minute 50 second mile per minute group! We ran from the Del Mar Gold Line station, through trails and residential areas all the way to Philippe’s French Dip in downtown. After surviving that, I knew I was ready.

Early rising for the 5:30 am start
Early rising for the 5:30 am start

I should probably mention the actual half marathon… we had a lengthy trip up (pace slowed mainly by unusually long service at Subway and traffic); stayed at an airbnb with 5 people – Barry, Natalie, Julio (Natalia’s husband), Jose, and me; we carbo-loaded and drank red wine the night before; and awoke at 4 am (sharing one bathroom) to make it to the start line by 5:15 am. The run itself was fantastic. The light barely rising, we started along the Embarcadero, ran along the bay, passed Crissy Fields beach, up onto the Golden Gate Bridge (one lane of runners crossing north, another lane returning south, and cars to the west), and then up THREE MILES of hills through the Presidio and ending at Golden Gate Park. Quite a journey, and I would totally do it again.

I finished in 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 30 seconds (9:02 min/mile). Barry finished about 10 minutes before me, and Natalia 10 minutes after. We felt so amazing! I took four opportunities throughout the race to do an “interval” – one minute of walking – to regain my energy, eat a honey gummy, and sip some water. The Pacers live by intervals, and I think it really helped me still feel powerful enough at the end to blast through those hills to the finish.

I was welcomed at the finish line by Jose smiling and holding me up, Julio taking photos and documenting our adventure, Barry cooling off safely in his insulating blanket, and my family from the Bay area. My aunt Jan came out from Fremont and my uncle Richard and aunt Linda came with their dog Isabella to cheer us on. It felt so good to have them all there. My parents wanted to be there but were volunteering at Hayward field the night before for an international youth track competition. Yes, I am from track town USA 🙂 My parents and sister tolerated all my running talk over the last few months, so I greatly appreciate their support. And lastly, one of those random things that kept me going was a friend from high school, Melissa, who I ran track with and she and I became friends on RunKeeper. She would like my workout posts and occasionally comment, and I would see her 10 and 12 mile runs at a 8:30 pace and that would provide some serious fuel for me. All these people and many more became part of this experience in my life and supported me throughout the past few months in so many ways – from taking care of my cats, to massaging my back, to giving me running advice. I’m so grateful, and I’m so proud to have accomplished this.

I can’t wait to see what’s next. I’ve already signed up for the LA Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in October. Perhaps a marathon next spring. Thank you all and thank you, Pacers, for being with me on this path.

Thank you, Julio Orozco, for contributing over half of these photos.

If you got all the way to the end of this post, please leave a note! Thanks 🙂

The Amazing Views while Hiking in Santiago

Do you enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains and the city at the same time? Santiago is a great place for hiking!

My recommendation is to bring enough water and pack food because there’s no store up top. And be aware of the timing so you can ensure you’ll make it back by dark so you don’t end up camping out without food in the cold at night. And don’t go alone, always bring someone along with you!

Cerro Alto del Naranjo is a pre-Andes mountain with a great view of the Andes mountains and Santiago. It’s about 1,890 meters high and has several different access routes. This hike took us around 5 hours in total.


Cerro Pochoco is another pre-Andes mountain in the neighborhood of Lo Barnechea in Santiago. It is approximately 1,800 meters high. This hike took much longer than we anticipated because it is really steep, so it actually took me longer to get down than to go up the mountain! In total, it took us about 4-5 hours.




Parque Natural Aguas de Ramón is a national park with environmental education activities. It is located near the neighborhoods of Las Condes and La Reina in Santiago. This hike took us about 7 hours, and we were taking it easy that day! The waterfall at the top made it worth it!




Two Hearts Beating in Unison – The Story of Two Identical Twin Girls: Part I

Meagan and Lara

What is it like to be a twin? Who was born first? When your sister feels pain, do you feel it to? Do you have a special way of communicating with each other?

These are commons curiosities of singletons when they find out I am a twin.

As I visited home twice this year, I got to spend more time with my identical twin sister and my parents who live in CA and OR respectively. Observing the reactions of others to my sister and I is always interesting. For instance, when we went to solicit in-kind donations for the non-profit she works at, only some of the people we came into contact with noticed that we are twins. When we were at the beach and went to the restroom, our long-time friend who was with us came out of the restroom, saw me entering the stall next to her, and exclaimed, “Whoa! I thought you were your sister for a second, weird!” When my fiancé visits us together, I think he gains a deeper understanding of me as he sees how similar we are in our appearance, our interests and passions, our gestures and mannerisms, our way of speaking, and our laugh.

People who only know one of us are always shocked and fascinated to find out that we are twins and of course they want to see a picture to believe it and see just how similar we really are. They often guess wrong when trying to determine who is who in a photo of us together. However, my fiancé looked through baby photos and teen photos of us growing up when he visited my parent’s house in 2008, and he guessed correctly in nearly every photo!

Fortunately, my sister and I grew up together and were not separated at birth. We have since departed on our own personal and professional paths that have led us to live in faraway places, but we maintain a special bond through our sisterhood and twinness. She lives in CA and I live in Santiago, Chile. We talk weekly on Skype or by phone, text and send photos via Whatsapp, and occasionally post on each other’s Facebook profiles. We manage to visit each other about once a year. We are there for each other for the personal and professional ups and downs, although we are not in close proximity.

When we were little, we were often mistaken for twin boys because we didn’t really have much hair until we were about 1 ½ years old. Our parents tried not to exaggerate our twinness, so they would dress us in different clothes, or at least in similar clothes but different colors. They also did not want to be overly feminine with our attire, so they also dresses us in traditionally “boy” colors as well, such as blue and red, which may have contributed to the confusion about our gender as infants.

As for how they told us apart, my sister was born with a distinctive birthmark on her thigh, which I do not have. So in a diaper, it was quite easy to tell who was who. On the other hand, I had a mark on my forehead that was a sort of purple tone, like when you hold your breath and push, so that helped differentiate me a little bit. Nevertheless, this mark has gone away over time. Nowadays, our dad frequently confuses us and has created a fusion of our names since he accidently says the wrong name so often!

When we were in elementary, middle, and high school, our parents specifically requested that the school place us in separate classrooms. It’s my understanding that they wanted us placed apart so we could develop individually. However, when junior and senior year of high school rolled around, we were both loving and advancing in Spanish classes and the only option was for us to have Spanish III and Spanish IV together during our last two years of high school. Ultimately, our Spanish teacher, Don Douglas, inspired me to eventually study abroad in Chile while in college!

In high school, my sister decided to take the IB (International Bachelaurette) track, which meant she took classes that incorporated a lot of international themes and had the possibility of graduating with an additional IB high school diploma. Instead of doing the IB track, I took the Honors and Advanced Placement track. Our test scores on the SAT college entrance exam, for instance, were pretty similar, although she scored a bit higher. In addition, our GPAs were quite similar, only a 0.03 point difference on a 4.0 scale.

When it came to college, we applied to some of the same colleges, but ended up deciding to go to different colleges, although they are within about 30 minutes of each other in southern CA. She majored in International Relations/Political Science, with a minor in Spanish. I double majored in Psychology and Spanish, and later went on to obtain a Masters of Social Work degree with a specialization in Management and a concentration on Social and Economic Development. She is contemplating graduate school, perhaps an MBA with a focus on non-profit management. However, having seen my student loan debt burden and through her research regarding graduate education, she has hesitated about whether it is really necessary for her to get an MBA (probably having to take on significant student loan debt to do so) in order to advance in her career and acquire the skills and networks she seeks to develop.

In college, I received three undergraduate research grants that allowed me to do qualitative research projects in Nicaragua on poverty, in Argentina on organizations and services for survivors of domestic violence, and in Chile on culture, political history and expressions through the national dance – cueca. These research and cultural experiences were very formative for me and increased my interest in working in Latin America and my confidence in navigating a foreign country on my own. Although my sister focused her high school and college studies on international relations, I have ended up working internationally while has worked in more local, community-based organizations in CA.

Both us of have worked in service-providing and administrative roles at non-profit organizations and in administrative roles at academic higher education institutions. Her experience working with first-generation-to-college low-income students inspired my choice of internship experiences in graduate school related to community development, prevention and youth development programs. While my work and professional training in workforce development, domestic violence prevention and intervention, and non-profit management, have been sources of learning and inspiration for her as well.

As time goes on, our professional interests seem to have aligned well, although we are in different roles and different countries.

As for our hobbies and interests in our free time, we participated in some different activities in middle school and high school. We both played soccer, but my parents encouraged her to play an instrument – viola – although she never became passionate about the viola. We both ran track and field. I participated on the sprinting the team (100 meter race and hurdles), and also did field events, while my sister, on the other hand, was part of the long-distance running team and participated on the cross-country team in the off season. I preferred the high jump, which my parents speculate has to do with my early development in utero. When I was an infant, apparently I would constantly curve my back over their arms and they think it’s probably because I curved that way over my sister in utero for quite some time, so it was a comfortable position for me.

Being involved in student government and leadership groups in high school and college led us to engage in community service and really enjoy it. We also like going to the beach, hiking in the mountains, running in nature, and practicing yoga. She likes to engage in a weekly study group that continues to stimulate her intellectually and help guide her in her career, and she and her friends also started a book group that meets about once every two months. I think I would enjoy those as well, but I have yet to find such a space for myself in Chile. Nevertheless, I have joined her study group and skype in on a weekly basis!

In high school we had some different friends and some friends in common. She made many friends in the international high school program and extracurricular activities, and I made friends in my classes and other activities. Many of her college friends stayed in the CA area and are nearby so they still get together often. Many of my college friends are either living at or near their parents’ home and trying to figure out their career in a slowly recovering economy while they balance part-time, unstable, or entrepreneurial jobs, and others have gone off to faraway places to work or travel, such as Argentina, Greece, and Australia. In graduate school, many of my friends were international or have lived internationally and have moved back to their countries of origin, like Singapore and Thailand, or countries they previously lived in, such as Indonesia and Cambodia. Many of my other friends from graduate school are living where they have landed jobs in their field.

It has been interesting to see the changes in people’s lives as we grow older and to get together with many old friends when I visit home. Some family and friends will be traveling to Chile next year to visit, which is very exciting! My sister will be coming at the beginning of next year. I can’t wait to see how my sobrinos here in Chile tell us apart or if they’ll be totally confused!

My next post Part II will be about our adoption, so stay tuned!

The Annual Celebration of San Pedro along the Fishermen’s Coves of Valparaíso


Dancing in unison with beautiful decorations and adornments on their traditional outfits, the dancers at the celebration of San Pedro amazed the spectators and honored their saint, San Pedro, on a beautifully sunny and clear winter weekend day along the coast of Valparaíso, Chile. The decorated boats were a sight to see as well!

This Sunday, June 29th the artisan fishermen and women, their families, community members, and tourists gathered along three coves of Valparaíso to celebrate the annual celebration of St. Peter (San Pedro). The celebration is organized by the fisherman unions of El membrillo, Portales y Laguna Verde and the municipality of Valparaíso to honor San Pedro. The religious holiday tradition dates back over 120 years, and was passed down from their ancestors. The celebration includes traditional songs and dances, special decorations of the artisan fishermen’s boats, and Catholic mass in honor of San Pedro.

President of the Union of Fishermen of Caleta El Membrillo, Manuel Cisternas, said,

“This is our religious holiday that we celebrate year after year, and it was passed on to us by our ancestors. Every year, we thank the patron saint for the year we had and ask for another year of jobs and fish products. We also ask that the relevant authorities support us with a fishing-related law that is fairer to the artisanal fishermen.”

The village head said that activities like these,

“help raise the spirits after the tragedy. We know there are locals who have suffered a lot as a result of recent events, but we know that San Pedro will give us the opportunity to recover the level of services we can offer as a tourist destination (Valparaíso). And this weekend a large number of services associated with the heritage hills, and the city in general, have offered the best in hotels and restaurants.”

The celebration was fascinating to watch and has much significance for the artisanal fishermen and their families who make their living on the sea with marine products.

I recommend trying the fish and seafood when you visit Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, or Concón.


Source: UCV radio, June 29, 2014,