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Published: February 14th 2019
I wanted to love quirky little hotel Winebox but to be honest, shipping containers aren’t very soundproof so we had a restless night of traffic, barking dogs and plumbing noises, compounded by the continued fallout from the Fritz & Franz pigeon poo lunch.
However, they redeem themselves at breakfast with fruit salad, smashed avocado, poached egg and fresh orange juice. I’d almost forgotten what fruit juice tasted like!
We spend the morning in Valparaiso with no specific plan (we consulted 3 maps and they were all completely different) other than a combination of murals and funicular railways.
We walk down our hill (Cerro Florida) then take the Ascensor Espiritu Santo up the next hill (Cerro Bellavista) to the Museo a Cielo Abierto, an area my guidebook says is adorned with colourful murals. Unfortunately, the museum and Lonely Planet are both in need of updating. It’s kind of interesting yet sad to see how dilapidated the area has become.
On to Palacio Baburizza, an art-nouveau chalet built in 1916 for a wealthy businessman, now an art gallery. The Palacio is at the top of the Ascensor El Peral. The old man, who thinks himself an expert navigator, tries
to take us to the base station but somehow manages to navigate to the top. I point out (more than once) that one doesn’t usually climb so many steps to reach the bottom of something. But he is undeterred. We finally reach the top, panting like a couple of steam trains. At least we’ve burned off breakfast (and saved ourselves 12 pence each on the Ascensor fare).
The Palacio is an interesting building with stained glass, wrought iron and an intriguing marble shower. The building outclasses the art it contains and isn’t really worth the foreigners’ entrance fee, which is double the standard fee. But, thanks to our epic climb, there is a great view across the city and port to the sea and the neighbouring town of Viña del Mar.
We take the Ascensor down to Plaza Sotomayor with its imposing blue Naval building and Monument to the Heroes, honouring Chile’s naval heroes. After a brief detour to the port, because the old man loves a boat, we take the train to Viña del Mar.
It’s a pain not having a car, but the train is clean and modern, costs 60p each way and runs every
7 minutes along the ocean front. So it’s a pleasant 5 mile journey which passes beaches lined with pelicans.
We walk along the coast of the resort town of Viña del Mar, past the Castillo Wulff, another house of a wealthy businessman. It was built in 1906 to look like a castle with a bridge to a tower overhanging the rocks beneath.
We visit the city’s main attraction; a floral clock. It’s surrounded by people dressed as Disney characters, superheroes and a rather scary tree man.
We catch a train back to Valparaiso, buy some empanadas and a bottle of Viñamar wine to commemorate our trip and climb the 285 steps back up to our hotel. Most of me has loved our trip to Valparaiso. My calves not included.
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