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Published: November 27th 2012
The bus to valparaiso was great, nice comfortable seats, attentive staff, cheap and on time. Probably the nicest bus we have ever been on, and only cost about £3 each! After we arrived we had to get a local bus to the hostel, which was at the top of one of the hills. Valpo is a port town, built around the sea, but all but the oldest development has been on the many hills surrounding the port. The houses are built on steep inclines, accessed by steep roads, very long crazy staircases or a series of old funicular railways, which are being slowly restored and reopened by the government. Our hostel was at the top of one of these hills - cerro Allegre .The hostel was more of a B&B really and was lovely and homely, we had a balcony overlooking the city from its elevated position. (It was called casa kreyenberg, we feel it deserves a mention!) after checking in we spent the rest of the afternoon just walking around the hills and narrow alleyways, getting a feel for the place. It's again plagued by street dogs, there are low running electric cables everywhere and graffiti on most buildings. Like
many places they have tried to combat the 'tagging' by inviting 'street artists' to paint murals on the walls, and although this is better than the tagging, it doesn't have quite the same impact as places like Melbourne, or even Santiago.
After some good time spent walking about we went back to the hostel to watch the Liverpool match in the lounge with the owner, which was a lovely bit of home comfort. Nice to be back in a time zone where football matches are not the middle of the night! On the evening we walked a little way down the hill to an area we had been told housed several restaurants. Although we found them, they were mostly expensive or empty. Eventually we found a seafood restaurant which turned out to be a real find, food was beautiful and staff friendly. The menu was of course completely in Spanish and we needed some help, but we are getting there with our food words! No bars around here but we didn't really want to walk down into town, it's nice and safe where we are (valpo is very poor, so there is some crime, although no more than you
would really expect from a big city), so we just went back to the hostel for a drink and a play about on the Internet, lots of things to organise!
The next morning after a lovely breakfast we got the mad bus down the hill to the bus station in order to book all our onward travel tickets for Chile. Then we went for a walk around the nearby sprawling market streets! There was everything and anything or sale here, as well as endless vegetable and fish stands, selling huge amounts for dirt cheap. After some lunch, we tried to visit the cathedral, unfortunately this was closed! Then we went to meet another 'free' walking tour, at least this time it was upfront - 'tours or tips'. We were not however given a recommended value this time, which was nice! The tour was interesting from a view point of learning the history of valparaiso and its various international influences. It was lead by a local Chilean guy, who was keen to show off his town. It mostly involved climping a lot of hills and looking at lots of graffiti. Some of it was enlightening, including a tag stating 'long live
the hairy women' and a loose hanging electrical cable tied up to be a noose with a tag saying, 'got problems?' As part of the tour we had a ride on one of the funiculars and also a trolley bus. At the end we were taken to the usual arts centre to buy things and given a long slow list of recommendations, including going to see his band that night!
In the evening we just visited another local restaurant and then drank some ridiculously cheap Chilean wine (£2.50 cab sav!). Tomorrow we head for the coast further north and La Serena. Valparaiso is a really interesting town which is going through some changes due to a recent Unesco recognition and a big tourist boom, hopefully it will keep growing as sensitively as it is now, they are keen to preserve the historical buildings and heritage.
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