Travel Journal

Valparaiso

(Thursday 31 March 2011) by Timo and Jon
We arrived in Valparaiso a couple of days ago...easily found our accommodation which turned out to be a lovely apartment on one of the 19 hills surrounding Valparaiso...we got very lucky once again...a huge flat with bedroom, lounge, kitchen/diner and a bathroom with a view over the coast and the town! We couldn't ask for more..:-)

Valpo, as it is known locally, is a UNESCO world heritage site and a busy port town, very lively with clear no-go areas; where we are staying (Cerro Alegre) is very bohemian, lots of art galleries, craft shops and small restaurants, cafes and B&Bs, all with very colourful painted buildings and a very relaxed atmosphere.B-)

To get to the town, there are several options...walk, or take a lift (ascensores), or take a colectivo (shared taxi), a very popular and easy way to get around...once in the town there is a metro system (above ground), buses, colectivos or trolley buses (which are pretty ancient now but are very cheap and popular)...they run on overhead electric supply.B-)

Valpo has had a rise and fall in recent history. Before the opening of the Panama canal it was a very wealthy area with merchants and port trade...then the fall came with the massive earthquake in 1906 and the opening of the Panama canal in 1914 which led to severe hardship to this area. Currently Valpo has the highest unemployment of all the Chilean cities. Having said that, we find it to be very much more relaxed and comfortable than most cities we have visited.;-)

Valpo also accommodates the Chilean Congress when it moved from Santiago; quite an impressive statistic for a non-capital city.:-^

Food is excellent...today we happened to be in the centre at lunchtime when the hunger started so we looked for 'menu del dia'. We found a place with a few items we didn't understand but the menu looked great value...we ended up having mussels salad, pumpkin soup, (2 starters each), then steak (& chicken for Timo) and desserts...all for the sum of 2750 pesos each (under £4). Including 2 glasses of wine each. I seem to remember paying £4 for 1 glass of wine at Gatwick.:o)

Also today, we decided to head to Argentina's wine region as it is directly to the east of us, and en route to Buenos Aires. The climate here is very cool at night, in fact last night we had to wear long jeans, socks and shoes for the first time since we landed in Mumbai on 31 October last year!!!! We will stay in Valpo until 4th April then we take the bus to Mendoza in Argentina before arriving in BA. We hope to return to Chile on our way to Peru (it should be warmer in the north!);-)

 


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