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Valparaiso

Written on: Saturday January 19th, 2008

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Valparaiso, Chile 

Author: Kevin 

Hola! 

After our late night at the observatory, we boarded an early afternoon bus to Valparaiso. 

Valparaiso is the South American version of San Francisco.  Its similarities span across its musicians, writers, chefs, painters, street cars, paved hills, bohemian lifestyle and it?s a port town to boot.  My first visit to ?Valpo?, as it?s known to Chileans, in 2006 left me with an impression much to be desired.  Its streets were lined with noisy buses discharging clouds of diesel fumes and the city?s buildings lacked charm and badly needed paint.  Clearly I was missing something here and we returned to find out exactly why people were so jazzed up about this city. 

This world UNESCO heritage site is considered the cultural city of Chile.  Its location is a 5 hour drive north of Santiago and neighbours the city of Vina del Mar.  The history behind the city?s port was that it was used as a stopover for sailors leaving California during gold rush.  Now imagine a European captain at the helm of the ship, sailing down the pacific and stopping in Valparaiso before heading to Ushuaia and then following the stars across the Atlantic to reach Spain and the rest of Europe.  They used this route up until 1914 before the Panama Canal was built.  That?s not all that long ago people, its only 30 years before my dad was born! 

If you plan on doing a bit visiting of your own, I would first suggest you book two nights stay before you arrive.  Valparaiso is a popular destination during the summer months of Chile, so you?d be best to book ahead.  We did have some complications finding accommodations when we arrived just after the sun went down.   It never feels comfortable walking around with your backpack and belongings strapped tightly to your body, while the sun is setting.  After walking up and down hills and sweating balls, following confusing instructions given, we took the first room we could find.  To our surprise we found a little bed and breakfast that had a room, but only for one night, they were fully booked the night after. 

Nightlife and walking is what you can expect from Valpo. Wandering the streets, observing murals, architecture, abandoned vehicules, riding ascensores (elevators), kept us preoccupied during the day while wine and food occupied our evenings.  A great walk though the city is on Almania Avenue, which takes you from hilltop to hilltop, you get a wonderful view of the ocean as well as some of the beautifully coloured and shaped homes.  On the top of this avenue we visited one of Pablo Neruda?s homes which is now a museum.  We later stumbled upon the open sky museum, a series of murals painted by artists in the late 1960?s.  There are 20 murals in total and are mostly abstract art and are randomly spread out around the neighbourhood. 

Later that day we met up with our French friend Thomas whom we met during our trip through the Salt Flat of Uyuni. He and a friend named Joris joined us a café outside the plaza Sotomayor, which although is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings, is not a very nice plaza since they allow cars to drive straight through. We spent a couple of hours enjoying a late afternoon drink till finally deciding to maybe have supper somewhere near our hostel in Cerro Concepcion. We had moved to another hostel earlier that morning after receiving help from the previous night?s hostel owner. We were located only 1 block away from where the boys were staying. 

We quickly got changed and talked with a few other people at the hostel who were also contemplating a night out on the town. So, now a group of 6 people, we headed out to eat at a French restaurant that turned out to be closed for the evening. With time ticking away and our stomachs growling we returned to the expensive but delicious restaurant we had eaten at the evening before. Great people, great conversation, great wine and great food made for a winning evening. At midnight when we had finished eating, we decided the night was still young so wandered the streets looking for a bar to share a nightcap and found a cool little place with comfy sofas and chairs. The night ended at 2:30 AM when we all looked at each and realised that we were all yawning. Time to go home to catch on some sleep.

 

From JS on Mar 12th, 2008

Hey Kev...on picture 1 of 47...are you doing one of those JS back crackers?