Home of a Chilean Admiral
In 2013, Don and I kept our fingers crossed as our taxi wound up the narrow road in Vina Del Mar.
We had booked our stay after reading positive reviews, but the price had seemed almost too good to be true. We hoped our inn wouldn't end up being in a ghetto.
Gated Community... Chilean Style
From the taxi, we could see lots of large homes behind a wall.
Could this possibly be where our B&B was located?
The taxi let us off beside the stone wall and was gone before we even found the buzzer beside the thick blue door.
We hoped we had the address right, because the home behind and above the door/wall, looked very intriguing!
Our First Greeting
Our host Jose, answered our buzz quickly and with a click, the blue door unlocked. We fumbled our baggage up the cement stairs and found ourselves face to face with a bold white house, trimmed in blue.
The wonderful old home, which had been an admiral's house, felt like a welcoming little fortress high on the hill. We were greeted by a sweet kitty in the garden...
And once inside we were greeted by Jose! What a treat to have a host who spoke English.
We had been in Chile a week and had learned to expect no help with communication! Jose, (along with the fresh colors and decor of the inn) couldn't have been more welcoming!
The living area was spotless, with strong beams of wood and walls covered in bright paint and bold patterns.
I peeked in the kitchen and could see a few reminders that this was not just a hotel, this was a home. Jose's wife and daughter weren't home, but there were crayon drawings and a few kiddie dishes. I hoped we would meet his family.
Up the Blue Staircase
The fresh paint, polished wood and modern light fixtures, made it hard to imagine this building, 100 years ago.
I would love to have seen photos of the admiral who once lived here. What kind of furniture? What kind of curtains? I should have asked Jose more questions.
Our Green Room
Our room was clean and spacious. I would have loved a comfy chair or sofa, but we hardly spent time in the room anyway.
And I was impressed that we could open windows and let in the sea air! Over the rooftops, we could spot the Pacific, with a few ships.
The neighborhood location was a treat for open windows, far from honking cars. But we did have some sounds to keep things from getting dull.
Occasionally a dog would break the silence, with a bark. Then a scattered chain of barks and howls would follow. I felt sure these dogs were sharing important messages, like in "101 Dalmatians".
On Monday morning we woke to the giggles and chatter of school children, traveling nearby in groups. Sure, we could have closed the windows, but I felt like we were getting a secret glimpse into another world!
There were a few other guest rooms with attached baths, but our bathroom was just across the hall.
The slight inconvenience of having to cross the hall, was outweighed by having the best bath and shower. I loved the blue tub, the large windows and clean wood and tile. I can't say enough how clean everything was!
This is the table where breakfast was served in the morning. I so wish I'd been brave enough to snap a photo with our fellow guests. At first, we were a quiet group around the table, nibbling homemade pastries, hardboiled eggs, meats and cheese.
But when the coffee finally kicked in, the 6 of us were all talking at once. Something about the accents and the sophistication (of the others!) reminded me of a scene from "Room With a View". I loved hearing about our fellow travelers from Quebec and Brazil, while tiny Laura, who spoke no English, served us. After a long breakfast we all hugged good-bye. Funny to hug people you just met.
So What is Most Notable?
The big house was like a hilltop retreat! Clean, safe and welcoming.
We loved being able to walk down and explore the charming streets and waterfront area. But Vina is like most cities. There's graffiti and there are dark alleys and you have to be aware at night. But we felt safer and more at home in our little fortress on the hill, than we would have at the nearby Sheridan, with the doorman and security guards!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!