Out with Hana and Luis for a riotous dinner until late, I blogged until 12:45pm so we got a late start from Puerto Varas. I will miss the quiet beauty, superb hotel and wonderful fish restaurants.
On Chilean Highway 5 we could have been anywhere in the States: four lanes, toll booths, hay fields with the huge round bales wrapped in white plastic, cows in the fields. We reached the city of Valdivia in under three hours, then fought our way through heavy traffic to the waterfront. Valdivia sits at the confluence of three major rivers, but it is a city with city problems. We found secure parking and Tom convinced me to walk to the river to see the sea lions. One was perched on an old submarine, the rest hovered around the fish market and what a market. (See photos) We settled for reaspberries, raisins and fresh cheese, having nowhere to cook the fish.
After a cup of tea we found the road to the tiny coastal village of Niebla. Apparently this weekend is the big festival of the region and several locals warned us that we would find nowhere to stay. We persevered and found “El Castillo Hotel” a charming Victorian house with spacious, well- appointed rooms, plus breakfast for the princely sum of $58. US
When we asked about dinner, the owner waved us down toward the bay for the festival which is rather like a fish version of The Three County Fair complete with rides for children, dancers on a stage, singers and forty or so booths for different kinds of food. First Tom and I had a plate of razor clams cooked in garlic with parmasan cheese, then we had kebabs fresh off the grill, a beer and blueberry juice respectively, finishing with local chocolate bars.
We walked to the historic fort that was under construction, then back to the beach and home to the hotel. I imagine the fair will be going all night. It is tempting to return but I have washed my clothes and am ready for bed.