03.18.2013 - 03.18.2013
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I had heard many things about Valparaiso. I heard recommendations to skip it and people who loved it. It seemed like such a polarizing place. Thus, I decided to check it out.
Valparaiso a city of about a million people on the Pacific coast 80 miles west of Santiago. It is located on a bay surrounded by hills. Founded in the 1500s, Valparaiso became a prominant and prosperous world port between 1849 and 1914. During the California gold rush, boats had to come around Cape Horn and stop in Valparaiso. When the Panama Canal opened, Valparaiso's golden days ended. So, it is a city that has risen and fallen on hard times. Now, 2 hills are a UNESCO world heritage site and the city is coming back again. The vibe is a bit San Francisco with a gritty rough feel. there was even a devastating earthquake here in 1906, same as San Francisco. There are cable cars here too. I kind of feel like I am in a parallel universe or something.
The city is built all over 43 hills, the buildings are all customized to the countour of the hills creating very unique architecture.
With these hills, there are furniculars, or ascenders, in Spanish. This is El Peral, one of 7 functioning right now.
The city is known for its graffiti art. It is everywhere and tastefully done.
There are so many colors too, because fisherman long used colors to make their homes easy to recognize.
Down near the port, the architecture is amazing
I took a really interesting tour, run by donation only, which gave an overview of the city, allowed me to meet other travellers, and get a lot of the stories and history of the place. At the end, the guide recommended a local dish to try called chorriana, which is a heartly porteño meal of meat, cheese, onion, and egg over french fries. I tried it and it hit the spot!
After that it was time to head back toward the hostel as dusk fell on the city.