28.03.2012 - 02.04.2012 18 °C
After sipping wine in Mendoza for a couple of days it was time to leave Argentina. We got on the bus and made our way across the Andes into Chile. Our first stop was Valparaiso, a small port city just outside of Santiago.
As the original plan was to go to Santiago before Valparaiso, we hadn't booked any accommodation. We ended up staying in 3 different hostels, luckily they weren't very far apart.
Back in the day Valparaiso was the leading merchant port along the Cape Horn and Pacific Ocean routes. Foreign trade and capital made it the financial powerhouse of Chile. A 1906 earthquake started the demise of the city. Also the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 obviously directed most ships along a different route. Today Valparaiso has the highest unemployment rate in the country, but tourism is starting to bring the life back to the once grand city.
Valparaiso is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is considered the cultural capital of Chile . The city is covered in street art;
Valparaiso is hilly, and full of stairs. Most are artsy, some are just steep;
Most our days here were spent just walking the streets and taking in the atmosphere. It was way colder here than we had planned for, but in the sun it wasn't too bad
Valparaiso is very hilly. Drinks were obviously in order
Luckily there are many of these elevators to take you up the steepest hills Unfortunately only three of them work. Well, two when we were there. This particular one is from 1883.
For once we also went on a city tour. Jason hates tour groups with a passion, but when we saw a poster at our hostel advertising Tours for Tips, he gave in. The original plan was to not tip that much, but tour ended up being really good (even though it lasted almost 3 hours!), and we parted with more money than intended... Plus we got to see loads of places we would have never found ourselves, and the history to go with it;
Obsidian stairs in an old building from Valpo's Hey Day. You know you're rich when marble stairs just don't cut it.
Almost all the houses in Valparaiso look like this. Some are clad with tin sheets and most are painted in all the colours of the rainbow. The tin was brought here as ballast on ships, and unloaded here with it's cargo. The inhabitants used it to shelter their homes. The many different colours are also related to the shipping industry. When the ships were painted the Valparaisians could buy the left over paint cheap, and therefore painted their houses in whatever colour they could get.
Because Valparaiso is so hilly, there is always a small super market close by. This has to with the fact that it gets tiring (and really old) walking back down, and then up a big hill just because you forgot to buy milk. This guy took advantage of this, and has been selling alfajores (caramel filled cookies) out of his house for the last 20 or so years!
A well deserved Pisco Sour after a long day of sight seeing
After spending some days getting to know Valparaiso, and walking up way too many hills, it was time to hit the Chilean capital. Only a short two hour bus ride away we left ealy in the morning to spend the day at Lollapalooza Music Festival