Valparaíso blew my mind
Our Lonely Planet South America on a shoe string mentions Valparaíso and places it on its top 8 list for Chile however you don’t actually hear all that much about this little town and perhaps that’s why it unsuspectingly knocked us for six.
We caught a ride with Turbus from Santiago, as Valparaíso is only two hours away we did not pre-book our tickets as we usually do and simply showed up at the station, the trip is basically direct. Driving into downtown Valparaíso and pulling in to the bus station did not give us the best first impression of the UNESCO heritage listed town, but as I have learned over the months of travel this is no way to judge the rest of the experience.
We made our way to our hostel Angel Hostal in the back of taxi, and as we winded our way through the shabby chic streets my pupils dilated and I fell in love (again!). I was overcome with excitement and basically tumbled out the taxi door before the driver could even pull up the handbrake. We had arrived around lunchtime so went out straight away to grab something to eat before joining the twice daily walking tour with Tour for Tips. We are finding it quite amusing the amount of Asian food we are seeing here in Chile, not saying it is going to be good but the options are there and after a month in Argentina and seeing nothing on the oriental side of things it is quite a novelty for us. So it had to be – Chinese for lunch, rice, chicken and vegetables, unsure what the sauce was but it went down a treat.
Before heading off on the walking tour we spotted the Melbourne Cafe on the edge of the main plaza and I was elated to see soy milk on the menu which I very much enjoy with my coffee, the menu also included flat whites and real lattes. We didn’t try the food but this looked good too, I had a cappuccino and Rob a latte.
We took off on the walking tour shortly after and corner after corner we turned I couldn’t believe my eyes, the best way to describe the old town is a mixture of Berlin’s alternative artistic grunge , Santorini’s hilly whimsical dramatic terrain, Rio’s favelas with their remarkable congestion and colors along with Venice’s uniquely built narrow “paths” and wonder. There are 26 funiculars linking the hills to the “flat area” of the town, only six currently active and in operation only costing about AU$0.20c a one way trip.
The idiosyncratic streets are full of street art, cafe’s, bars, boutique shops and accommodation, you could endlessly wander to only try a handful of the options. There are the bad areas of the town, and we were advised of our boundaries by two locals and told where not to go exploring but we simply loved this place and both agree it should not be missed when visiting this region of Chile. Unfortunately these photos don’t do the experience justice, but enjoy nonetheless.