What’s to See in Valparaiso, Chile? Well over the next nine days we will explore and find out.
Days 293 – 301 December 20th – 28th, 2014.
We arrived in Valparaiso in the early hours by cruise ship it was the end of a 16 night Panama Canal & South America cruise. Our first stop in Chile was in Arica, the far north of this long (very long) country two days earlier and after spending the day looking around there and organising a local sim for the phone we enjoyed the day.
Standing at the cruise terminal in the port of Valparaiso we were happy to connect with Hernan the son of Miguel who has the AirBnB apartment where we stayed for the 9 days in this colourful city in Chile.
Our place from AirBnB in Valparaiso
Our place which I had arranged while staying in Medellin Colombia was just perfect. It had a comfortable queen bed and practical bathroom with a good shower, nothing worse than a crappy shower, well there is but that’s another story. A small kitchen with most things and lounge and dining table, also a balcony with great views. Most important very good internet WiFi.
Hernan and his mum were able to show us around for a while before heading back to Santiago. The local shops banks etc, you know the places one needs when getting somewhere for the first time.
“Plaza Sotomayor in Valparaiso, Chile”
We explored Plaza Sotomayor and then had a coffee from an Australian café (no sign of an Aussie) and the so-called Australian flat white was pretty average.
The views from this AirBnB place were awesome, we could see the port albeit partly obstructed, the famous hills that Valparaiso are known for with a acensor or funicular at the right from our balcony view and the rest of the town below us.
A bit closer you can see the ascensor and the colourful facades of the building on the hill or Cerro as they call it.
The balcony was not for the faint hearted either, talk about low, it didn’t even come up to my hips, probably not ideal place for a family with small kids.
Basically the building is located right near the town center, near to anything you need. We spent time looking around over the 9 days having the local menu del dia here and there and we found a good café obviously with great coffee at a place called Foto Café. Inside is also a shop that sells all things photo and pictures, good WiFi as well.
We found Valparaiso to be very dirty and smelly. Sure it is colourful and has many wonderful buildings and wall art but with so many tourists visiting and the expensive prices we pay and the low amounts of money the locals earn, it makes me wonder where all the money is going!!!
From reading up on Chile we had an idea that it was expensive and we were right, Chile is expensive. They also have a shed load of buses that are everywhere there is also a manual check point which is monitoring the times at which they run all very strange.
“Victoria square in Valparaiso”
Valpo as the locals call it, is home to many thousands of stray homeless dogs. You can see them everywhere you go, some alone others in groups, strangely enough they look pretty good, not skinny or scraggly, it’s as if they are being secretly looked after.
The locals believe it to be a good thing and the dogs do get fed from scraps and all over the town you can find water bowls. You could easily fall in love with one or many and take them for love and care. It made us quite sad really.
Our digs were right near the Plaza Victoria and close to most places like I have said before, we could walk for five minutes to the supermarket or the park etc.
If you walk heading towards avenue Argentina in the direction of Vina del Mar you pass lots of shops and street sellers eventually coming to the Valparaiso bus station, on this day we bought our tickets for the Tur Bus to Santiago ready for the 1st of January 2015.
The shops were very busy as you could expect, with it being christmas while we were here. Even on Christmas day the locals were all out in the streets selling their wares and also enjoying the fair like feel of the street acts and events for the kids.
“Coffee & Cake on Christmas day”
From midday we could hear the sounds of street music coming from the park nearby. The roads were being set up with lots of stalls and things for the kids to do, it was a party mood.
A great place for us to stop and soak up the atmosphere while treating ourselves to some coffee and cake, why not it’s Christmas after all.
Boxing day was a more quiet day and the streets less active, nonetheless locals and tourist made their way around like it was a normal day.
When in Valpo be sure to take at least one ride on a funicular, there are 15 of them to choose from and they cost 200 Chile peso about 40 cents each way. It sure saves walking up, going down is easier. This is a map that shows where all 15 are in Valparaiso.
Ascensor Espiritu Santo in Valparaiso”
We took the one closest to our place called Ascensor Espiritu Santo which takes you up to the where the white statue of Christ is looking down over the city.
This funicular looked to me as if it would collapse any moment especially the building around it. The ride up was over in a mater of seconds and the views around are great.
“Open Sky Museum of Valparaiso”
Valparaiso is also well-known for is street art or wall art. It has a dedicated museum for the art called the Open Sky Museum of Valparaiso, there is a map to follow which marks out where to view each one. Some of the art is in need of repair or a touch up and according to Miguel it is due to commence in 2015.
Walking through the area at the top was enjoyable, very quiet with hardly anyone around. The paths are not easy to walk on as they are very uneven and you need to keep a good eye out not to step in something!! We came across a huge church that was all locked up.
Most of the buildings here were old and run down, some with only the many layers of paint holding them up, yet on a positive note there are new buildings going up.
The views around are great, you can see over to Vina Del Mar where we will move to for the New Years Eve celebrations.
After spending some time here, we walked all the way down passing lots more wall art and made our way between some poor housing areas. Even poorer than some of the places we saw in Colombia.
A few days later we walked all around another area of Valpo, this time just following our nose up to the top, via this street and that not really knowing where we would end up. We past the metro along the waterfront and then up into the hills.
We spotted a nice place up the hill and made our way. It was a pleasant stroll and every where you look is colour, you would certainly be fit if you walked these hills everyday.
“The hill called Cerro Concepcion”
Each road took a turn to the left then to the right and we were getting no closer to our destination… Anyway we stopped for a coffee at this little place which was in a really nice area, shame the coffee was not so crash hot.
The area we were walking around was called Cerro Concepcion and we made it to the top. Part of that walk was on these picturesque steps and paintings.
Like everything that goes up it must come back down and that’s what we did, we must have walked for 3-4 hours. With a different view at each turn, colours popping out from any wall.
“Ascensor Reina Victoria in Valparaiso”
Eventually making our way back down to where the Ascensor Reina Victoria runs. At the entry to this ascensor is a small coffee shop and as you know anytime is coffee time right. Shame it was very average again, dammit, why are there so many average coffee serving places around.
This Ascensor is right next door to the brewery which as we got there around five was closing up. During our walk we crossed paths with a group doing the free walking tour of Valparaiso, I guess we were following our own tour and seeing them was a good sign that we were on the right path.
Back at our pad it was time for us to pack ready to depart this place in the morning. We can highly recommend staying in this area of Valparaiso and also in this apartment. We will miss this view for sure.