Monday, February 13, 2012

Valparaiso, Chile - in November

So, we've been to Valparaiso twice - once in the off-season and once during New Year's week, which will come later. When I say "we", I mean my boyfriend and I.

Valparaiso is a magical little seaside city with cliffs and colorful houses, stacked on hillsides with cable car elevators (funiculars, as they are called in Italy), full of character and gritty to the core. The decaying old buildings are covered in graffiti and art, but somehow remain charming and interesting, like an old friend who may drink a little too much, but is still a blast to be around every once in a while. Despite what you might have heard, Valpo is no more dangerous (or at least doesn't feel like it) than any other tourist destination - and we stayed in what could arguably be called one of the not-so-nice areas of the city (approximately 4 blocks from the bus station - which we all know is NEVER in a nice area, no matter what city you're in).

The bus arrived at the crack of dawn one November morning, when the morning fog hadn't yet cleared and a chill hung in the air. Coming from the desert in Mendoza, we weren't ready for the abrupt change in temperature, and promptly layered whatever long-sleeved items we had over the tank tops and t-shirts we wore when we left 80-something-degree Mendoza.

Quick tip: $200,000 Chilean pesos is too much money to take out of the ATM at one time. It's about US $400. You're welcome. This was a lesson learned the hard way. Much like the time I took out about US $650 from an ATM in Iceland, by accident.

Yup - I could live here.
In a whirlwind 2-day adventure, we visited La Sebastiana, the historical home of Pablo Neruda, which was amazing. He collected a really eclectic, interesting, and beautiful menagerie of things from around the world, all on display in this incredible cliffside home. I could totally live there.
Some street art
Wandering down the hills after visiting his house, we came upon the "open air museum" that adorns the streets of the city. Very cool street art and interesting murals.


We ate great seafood at this port-side restaurant (whose name escapes me), where the waiter assembled a Spanish dictionary tray to show us each different type of seafood by its name. He was really sweet. Later that day, we got some coffee at the cafe attached to the Museo Lukas  (on Paseo Gervasconi). The mocha was pretty delicious.

Piri Piri shrimp and ceviche!
Another day was spent wandering Viña del Mar (another post to come!) and then returning to Valparaiso to traipse around Cerro Allegre and Cerro Concepción, peeking in the windows of art galleries, taking photos and looking for food and pisco sours.

Cerro Concepción
We ended up dining at Sabor Color Gourmet Bar and had a great cheese plate, fried seafood platter, a bottle of Tabalí Carmenere, and ridiculous brownie for dessert. Seriously - get the brownies! All of this was enjoyed with our friends while listening to the string trio play live in the other room of this converted house-turned-restaurant.

New Years? Now that's a whole other story...

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