After spending some days in Santiago, we let most of our luggage in our room, just took a small bag, and went for a couple of nights at the seaside. Destination: Valparaiso, less than two hours of bus away.
If you have ever played some kind of video games where you are supposed to build a city, you would have never picked (or hated) the layout map of Valparaiso. Lots of steeps hills running into the sea, nowhere flat. In short, impossible to develop something here. Well, Chilean people did it, and they turned it into the second city in Chile! It started as a harbour for Santiago, grew up and became a world-famous city in the universe of sailors, as it was one essential stop for boats going around South America on the Europe – USA transit line. Until the Panama Canal opened, and an earthquake destroyed most of the city more than a hundred years ago, putting a slight end to a golden era.
Nowadays, the lower part of Valpo, close to the harbour is a pretty ugly place, stacked with badly looking concrete buildings, narrow and dark streets, and a lot of noisy traffic. But as soon as you go up in the different hills or cerros, you discover a much nicer, residential and lively area. The town is an open art museum for graffiti and everywhere you can see awesome artwork on walls, garage doors, or even garbage trucks. To go up in the different cerros, you can climb up an infinite number of stairs, or take one of the more than a hundred years old funicular or lift. So old that everything is shaking and making terrible noise. You think more than once during the climb that you’ll be the last person using it before it breaks!
And here are some examples of the street art we liked the most.
Valparaiso is also home to one of the three houses of Pablo Neruda. The famous (if only?) Chilean poet and Literary Nobel Prize winner. He wanted a house in Valparaiso to find peace and inspiration, away from the busy Santiago. And what a house he found, on the top of a hill, overlooking the whole bay. Easy to find inspiration for poetry after that.
On our way back to Santiago, we stopped in Pablo Neruda’s third house, la casa de Isla Negra (which is not on an island). It was a very nice and big house right in front of the Pacific Ocean, that also served as a collection display of everything he liked to collect. From boats artefacts to smoking pipes, to sea shells and toys. We really enjoyed the visit and the views on the ocean, even though it was stormy weather outside and it poured down continuously the whole day.
We have very little pictures to show as it wasn’t allowed
Soon, you’ll be able to read more from us, from a much more tropical location!