Jan 16

Valparaiso in a day

by in Chile

Valparaiso in a day

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Darin had spotted a day trip from Santiago on the bus that would take us to Valparaiso. Once a major port and affluent city due to its ideal stopover point for ships traveling between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, this city is a mixture of everything. Including its fortunes. Although the capital of Chile is Santiago, the National Congress of Chile meets here. It is an important place, and was known as the ‘Little San Francisco’ and the ‘Jewel of the Pacific.’ Along with those accolades were Chili’s first public library, and the oldest stock exchange in Latin America. We had a couple of hours on the bus to get here when we felt like those people on a cheap away day ticket. Mostly locals with a couple of tourists. We had checked the weather and it was going to be hot, it has a very good climate, but when we were pulling up to the bus station people were dressed in costs and hats. A bit of a worry.  I was wearing a tank top and shorts and even though Darin had advised me to bring a sweater, I had chosen not to as I didn’t want to carry it, plus it had been sweltering in Santiago. Big mistake. Note to self. Please listen to Darin in the future about dress code. I said listen, not necessarily adhere to.

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Bougainvillea Babe

So our first stop was to buy a cheap sweatshirt in a thrift store. I almost wanted to ask if I could borrow it as it was only going to be for a few hours. But I ended up taking it back to Santiago and leaving it with a few other treats for the chamber maid.
Anyway, it was cold and at first appearance the place didn’t look particularly nice. But then we remembered the bus station is always in the not so nice part of town, so we got a  map and headed to the center. There are as system of 16 funicular elevators -essentially a tiny car -that is hauled up an extremely steep hill, so you an get to the next level.

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View up the funicular

It’s very weird, they are all really old and look as if they haven’t really been maintained. But the journey lasts less than a minute.  In fact the World Monuments fund has said that Valparaiso funiculars are on the top 100 lists of endangered historical treasures. And we rode them, which makes us endangered treasure helpers, or something  similar.

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I am quite sure we will start to receive Funicular Monthly newsletter and pens saying ‘Funicular riders do it straight up’ or something equally as challenging. And asking for money of course…. Must get a block on those letter….
Anyway, the city is a World Heritage Site based on its ‘improvised urban design and unique architecture’. And the further we walked away from the bus station, the better it got.

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Lots of VW campers in Chile and Peru

We climbed up and up and reached about as high as we could and found a delightful cafe for lunch. Shabby chic but Chilean style was the theme, and we enjoyed chatting to the owner and having a glass of Chilean beer. Quite delicious.

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Beautiful mural with spotted painting

One thing that struck us was how much graffiti, and art there was around. Most of it was stunning, with me giving the occasional raised eyebrow. Abstract, mythical, and various messages adorned the walls throughout the city, and it was refreshing to just walk around and take it all in.

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We didn’t go into any museums, old houses, government buildings but had a really good day just wandering around the streets.

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Quote of the day

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