We stayed at Hostal Donde Rita in Vicuña, which felt like staying at my old German grandmother's house. Her breakfasts were amazing and her house beautiful, complete with pool and solar oven:
On our first day, we ate at a solar oven restaurant where they cooked all our food even dessert in the solar ovens!
After our lunch, we walked along country roads lined with vineyards towards the Capel pisco plant where we had a tour and tasting:
The next day we took a colectivo into La Serena for the sole purpose of introducing Nicole to Locos a la parmesano (abalone baked in cheese). She agreed they're pretty delicious, especially with a coke made with real sugar:
After lunch, we laid out on the beach where we both ended up falling asleep (hence, no pictures) and then walked through a nearby casino. That night we took it pretty easy because we had tickets for an the La Pangue observatory tour led by real astronomers. Supposedly, Valle del Elqui has the best stargazing in the world. Too bad the pictures didn't come out:
Because it was AMAZING!!! I've NEVER seen so many stars in my life, and different from ones in the Northern Hemisphere, like the Southern Cross and Magellanic galaxies. Through the telescope, we saw nebulas, supernovas, and collapsing stars! Although the road up to the observatory is a scary adventure in itself, it was well worth the trip. You MUST visit Valle del Elqui and go stargazing at La Pangue if you ever visit Chile!
While we were in La Serena, we discovered that all the buses to Valparaíso were booked on the 30th so we had to leave a day earlier so we weren't stranded in La Serena on New Year's eve. I'll post our adventures there next.