South America Day 35 - Valparaiso

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South America » Chile » Valparaíso Region » Valparaíso
February 12th 2019
Published: February 13th 2019
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Today we head to the Pacific coast. Our original plan to spend a few days driving up the coast in our fantasy hire car has been changed to two nights in the port of Valparaiso.

We receive a message from the hotel warning of a gang that targets hire cars, puncturing a tyre then robbing you which you change the wheel. We tell them not to worry, we were robbed before we reached the hiring of the car stage.

It’s a trek to Valparaiso by public transport (taxi, tube, tube, bus, taxi). Also, we haven’t booked bus tickets in advance to avoid using our last bank card unnecessarily. So when we reach the bus station, the first two buses are full and we have to wait 40 minutes. It isn’t a disaster but further fallout from being robbed; a two hour car journey becomes a 4 hour public transport extravaganza.

It’s 500 pesos to use the station toilet (that’s 62p) so I sit with my legs crossed waiting for the bus to arrive. However, the bus is modern, clean and punctual with comfy allocated seating.

We reach our hotel in Valparaiso; WineBox. It’s built from 25 shipping containers, most of the décor is made from recycled pallets, bottles, barrels etc and it’s covered in murals. It’s very cool. It sits on a hill overlooking the city with great views both from the balcony and the rooftop bar where they serve their own wine.

We walk up the hill (in Valparaiso it’s all about hills – hills and steps) to La Sebastiana, home of the poet Pablo Neruda. He had the house built on 5 levels overlooking the city and bay, designed with a nautical theme. We take an audio tour of the house, which is very interesting.

Valparaiso is a strange place; spreading up a series of hills overlooking the ocean; a mixture of industrial port and colonial buildings mixed with slums; and there are murals everywhere. It’s dirty and chaotic but also alluring. Neruda sums it up in his ode to the city that he loved:

what an absurdity
you are,
how crazy:
a crazy port.
What a head
of disheveled
that you never finish

We walk to the supermarket to get some dinner. It’s not far, but it’s all downhill. Which, of course, means it’s all uphill (including 285 steps) with the shopping.

Once we have caught our breath, we spend the evening eating roast chicken and drinking Chilean wine on our balcony overlooking the city, watching the sun set over the bay.

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