Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

Or Valpo and Viña..

Valpo was a city we loved spending time and walking around. It is a very special place. It is more specifically the artistic and cultural capital of Chile as well as Pablo Neruda’s hometown. Pablo Neruda is a famous poet in South America and we can say that the city has a special soul. From all of the artistic wall paintings all over the streets, to the views of all of the Cerros, Valparaiso made a special spot on our hearts.

We decided to do the same walking tour we found in Santiago called “Free tour” working on donations.

It was amazing to learn about the history of the City behind some of the paintings in the walls. We started the tour by taking one of the many Ascensores (funiculars) around the city to go to Cerro Alegre. These ascensores were build back in 1898 to 1902. After the earthquake, some of them shut down, but the few remaining open, give something typical to the city and became somehow a thing to do in Valpo. We must say it is a bit scary at first but safe, no issues have been reported according to the operators. 🙂
As you go up to Cierro Alegre, you have a beautiful view of the city and the imposing port. You can look around and see how picturesque all of the houses are. Every house is painted on the outside with different colors, some with abstract art on them as well. It is called street art and the cultural center is a great place to admire the artists paintings and various graffitis.
As we kept going with our tour guide Franco, he also explained to us that Valparaiso was named part of the UNESCO world heritage site as of 2003 which made them very proud but brought certain regulations and restrictions as well. For example, if anything breaks on one of the houses, they must repair it with original parts, which is expensive and not easy to find. We saw buildings or homes abandoned, we guess by lack of money to get original materials.
The end of the tour was at the main Plaza by the port. Valpo is no longer the main port of Chile but still remains an important part of the traders of the same.

We spent few days after that walking around the town, eating in small cafes, and enjoying the views of the city.

We didn’t forget though, to go see another major attraction which is the house of Pablo Neruda, “The Sebastiana”. Now dead, Pablo, winner of Nobel prize of Literature, was a famous poet in the 19th century in Chile and became well known for its touching and inspiring texts. His house had been built in a form of a boat, as he got obsessed with collecting ships. Supposedly, he couldn’t swim, so he built the house as a manner of fighting his fear of water. It offers one of the best views of the city and the ocean. The house is now a museum with all of the collections left by the author. It’s definitely worth the 45 minute walk from the main Plaza.

One of Pablo Neruda’s Poem:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Read more at http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poems/best/pablo_neruda

Beautiful Viña del Mar 

From Valparaiso, it is very easy and quick to get to Viña del Mar. A 20 minutes bus ride drove us to the main Clock and to the nearby beaches.

Viña is known primarily as a resort town and for having beautiful beaches, clean streets and a high income level. It is more expensive to eat and stay in Viña but it is definitively worth to spend 1 afternoon there.

A walk along the beach and bay, gave us a nice experience of what Viña has to offer. Nice hotels, excellent restaurants with seafood and fresh Cevice! (fresh shellfish cooked with lemon).We walked around for a bit and enjoyed the beach and the numerous pelicans as well ! 🙂 The water is freezing which gave us absolutely no desire to go swimming.

At the end of the day, we took one of the various buses going back to Valpo. We enjoyed our last night by having a glass of wine and cheese with one of the best spots in the city, right underneath the ascensor Victoria.

Now we get ready to start our way south to the Patagonia and do a 5 day hike in the National park Torres del Paine and enjoy some penguin watching in Punta Arenas. 🙂

Hasta pronto!

Useful information:

Getting out of the city : These cities are connected by buses to Santiago. There are departures almost every half hour and the ride last 2 hours. We chose Turbus as a bus company but other are operating at about the same price: 3’000 pesos the ride/pers.

Where to stay in Valpo:The Casa Verde Limon, well centered, clean and friendly staff, double room in a share flat at 20’000 pesos, address El Descanso 196, [email protected]

Bodega at the ascenor Reina Victoria (top) : They offer a wide selection of wine for wine tasting, 3’000 pesos the glass

Delicias Express: Best Empanadas of the city to try ! Address: Calle Urriola 358.

Free walking tour: Every day at 10 am or 3 pm. Meeting point at Plaza Anibal Pinto. No booking needed.