We celebrated the New Year in La Serena, Chile. We wanted to spend the New Year at the beach! I must say right off that I haven’t felt very comfortable about taking photos in town and city centres since we had our bag stolen in the bus terminal in Mendoza. Anywhere with loads of people around puts me off and makes me slightly nervous and so I didn’t take any of the town centre of La Serena. I almost regret not taking any pictures as it is quite pretty in parts. I am sure if you google it, you can find some nice pictures on the internet.
I did manage to take some pictures though. We went to the Japanese Gardens which was opposite the hostel where we stayed at on our first night.
The Japanese Gardens were very pretty, but could have done with a bit more shade. It was really hot! It also would have been more relaxing if it weren’t next to the highway, but that is the way it goes sometimes.
La Serena also boasts two large shopping malls (we visited both), loads of cafes and ice cream shops. There are restaurants, but they seem to only be open in the afternoon. We spent a couple of hours trying to find somewhere to eat dinner in the town on our first night there and nothing was open. We eventually found somewhere by following my nose, literally. I smelled food and we found a place to eat on what seemed like a totally residential street. We advise eating your main meal at lunch time.
We moved down to the beach on our second night. The hostel we stayed at had two properties. We were lucky to have the bungalow to ourselves for a couple of nights. It was a five-minute walk to the beach.This is the Pacific Ocean! Bob had never been to the Pacific Ocean before and can now say that it is actually terrific! There were beautiful sandy beaches for miles! However, in Chile, beaches come with a warning!
Well, at least we knew where to run, just in case! We really did have a chilled out and relaxed time here. We did one excursion, to the Elqui Valley. We rented a car for the first time and drove out of town. It was really easy and the roads were great.
What is so special about the Elqui Valley? The fact that crops are grown in what is essentially a desert. The main crops are grapes that are grown to produce Pisco. I have become quite fond of Pisco Sours! They also grow fruit and other produce. The verdant green in the valley is such a complete contrast to the dry brown mountains on either side.
There are also a few Observatories in the Elqui Valley as the night sky is especially clear in this area. You can do tours in certain observatories and they start from 8:30 pm. It isn’t possible to just drive up the road to one, we tried. You need to schedule a tour in advance. Instead, we watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
It was amazing and romantic. On the other side of the bay from La Serena is Coquimbo. Every year, Coquimbo has an amazing firework display on New Year’s Eve and people from La Serena go to the beach to watch them! This year we celebrated the New Year with the family who owned the hostel. We had an asado that included the other guests where we were staying and some from the hostel in town. Afterwards, we went to see the fireworks. It was a great night of camaraderie! We had a really lovely time here!