Written 29 Jan/ 30 Jan
Valparaiso is only 1.5hrs from Santiago, but because it was a weekend, I paid an exorbitant 4500pesos to get there. Ridiculous, but I didn’t want to stay in Santiago any longer, so I paid and left.
The first thing I noticed when I got to Valpo (as the locals call it – first syllable from the name and add the suffix -po, in typical Chilean fashion), was that it reminded me of Lisbon. 😀 You can imagine how pleased I was to be in a place that reminded me so strongly of the wonderful time I had on exchange (: It probably had something to do with the fact that Valpo is built on 42 (or 43, but who’s counting, right?) hills and is a coastal city, while Lisbon is built on 7 hills and is also a coastal city.
I felt completely at home, climbing up a hill to get to my cheap hostel (Hostel Linancany) which turned out to be super chill, with super nice people. I met a couple of people at the hostel and shared some great pizza and conversations with them that evening. The hostel life really is something different, with the opportunity to meet so many different people from so many different walks of life. That said, I still prefer CouchSurfing because it’s truly a great way to get to know the locals and their culture. I mean, at the end of the day, all the people you meet in a hostel are still travellers, probably just as clueless as yourself.
The next day, Anna (American girl I met at the hostel) and I went to visit Pablo Neruda’s house. He has three houses, one in Santiago, one in Isla Negra and the last in Valpo. And what a quirky house it was! Paintings, statues, furniture, everything was just bursting with quirkyness.
After that, it was off to a free walking tour of Valpo with Tours for Tips which was very informative and a great way to cover the main highlights of the city.
After the tour, I continued wandering around for a bit, and eventually found myself in a cosy little restaurant (recommended by the tour guide).
It was cold and windy, and after weeks of almost nothing but beef and pork and chicken (which I love), I had a mega craving for seafood or soup. And whaddya know, the place had some sort of shellfish soup!
Really hit the spot, and I was a happy camper after that (:
The next day, I decided to go down to Viña, a town 20minutes away by bus, also along the coast. In my opinion, while Viña was much cleaner than Valpo, there wasn’t really much else to do besides walk the entire length of the beach, which I did, with Caesar, a CouchSurfer living in Valpo. CouchSurfers are awesome.
The weather was really weird, hot, but with cold sea breezes and the water was freezing cold as well, so we didn’t swim, but went to get empanadas instead – camaron y queso (shrimp and cheese). Mmmm yummy (thanks for the recommendation Sher)!
Caesar had to go to his office for a bit after that, so I tagged along and man, the view at the top was amazing. Fantastic bird’s eye view of literally the entire city, which because it sits on a bunch of hills and is elevated, can be seen all at once.
After that, it was off to the bus station to buy a ticket to Mendoza, which some of the people at the hostel had strongly recommended. I had no better plan so, why not, right? I spent the evening at the hostel, hanging out with some people who were making an asado (!every day there is an asado somewhere).
My bus to Mendoza was only at 9pm the following day, so I wandered around Valpo a little more the next day,
and had a typical Valparaisan dish, the chorillana – fries, eggs, meat, onions and cheese.
Such a bad idea, but at least now I can say I’ve tried it! Besides, walking up and down the hills for a couple of hours definitely burned off the calories.
All in all, Valpo is a place I wouldn’t mind returning to at some point in my life, but in the meanwhile, it was back to Argentina!
Oh, and a stupid thing happened when I was about to take the bus to Mendoza. So apparently when you enter Chile, you’re given a piece of paper at immigration, which you need to return to them when you leave the country. The bus conductor asked me for this little piece of paper, which to my dismay, was NOT in my passport, as it should have been. He was all like, oh if you can’t find it, you can’t leave the country, which seemed kinda ridiculous to me, but thanks to my habit of not throwing any ticket stub or map or anything I get on my travels, I managed to recover this magical piece of paper and was free to leave Chile. Phew. Lesson learnt – don’t throw shit away, or at least not shit they give you at immigration.