Valley of Paradise?

It rained a lot last weekend. As in, this was the heaviest rain this part of Chile had seen in a long time. Naturally, this was the weekend we went to Valparaíso.

Valparaíso is one of Chile’s larger cities and sits nestled between the Pacific Coast and the precordillera. The city is mostly built on rather steep hills. The appeal of Valpo is that you can basically just walk around everywhere and find things to do- they have an amazing bar scene and nightlife, lots of outdoor art, and just general exploring. Which involve walking, up and down hills, outdoors. Historic rain is not conducive to that kind of activity.

So, I will preface my Valpo experience by saying that I am sure I would have enjoyed myself much more if the weather had been nicer. In the sun, I bet things would have looked brighter, cleaner, and less sad. The energy was very low, and I think I picked up on that and thus did not experience as much of Valparaíso as I should have.

After dropping our things off at the hostel, my friends and I walked over to La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses in Chile (remember that I went to La Isla Negra during my first weekend in Santiago). Once again, they would not let you take pictures of the interior of the house itself, but I was able to get pictures of the ocean view from the inside:

Pablo Neruda looked out this window. Think about that.

La Sebastiana, like La Isla Negra, demonstrates Neruda’s love for the sea and his unique and eccentric style. Once again, every piece in the house was selected and located where it was for a specific reason. He even named a lot of the bigger furniture and artwork. It was a short and easy visit, and we got a student discount too. Walking there was a nice way to look around Valpo a little bit more. From what I did get to see, I think Valpo is best seen on the street.

After that we met up with some other friends and walked around the Museo Cielo Abierto, or the Open Sky Museum. Valparaíso is also known for its murals (or graffiti), and the Museo Cielo Abierto is a network of streets demonstrating specific murals. It was a little difficult to follow the streets, since everything winds around and goes up and down precarious stairways, and some murals were covered, but it was another cool way to experience art. Here are a few examples:

Like peeking into windows.

Trying to get an artistic shot.

Not a mural. But I’m obsessed with these houses.

Love the colors in this. Also, I wish I knew who the man was.

After that, I was getting bored of the rain and the hills, so I went back to the hostel with friends and there we rested and laughed for a while. We went out again around 9 to get dinner and party for the night. Our hostel was excellent and recommended El Pimentón for dinner. The maximum capacity of this restaurant is 29 people- that’s how small and packed in it is. I highly recommend this restaurant! The staff was very friendly and the prices were cheap. I paid about US$6 in total for two or three glasses of raspberry-blended wine (probably one of the best things I’ve ever had to drink) and a giant (but really, giant) corn and cheese empanada.

After El Pimentón we wandered over to an artsy bar that our hostel had also recommended, but it was packed (around 10:15- very early for Chileans!) and there were no seats. Since our next potential event (a concert) was not scheduled to start until at least 1 AM, we wandered over to another bar. It looked like a new place- you could tell that the design of the bar was not really figured out yet, and there wasn’t even a sign over the door. It also seemed like it might be a secret spot, since when we walked literally every single person there turned at stared at us until we sat down. On the bright side, they had drink specials until midnight, which meant the drinks were dirt cheap, and we hung out there until close.

We walked back over to the concert to see if things had started yet, and while there was certainly a crowd, they were only playing recorded music. We were later told that the concert wouldn’t have really started until about 3 AM. So off we went to a disco! This was my first disco in Chile, folks. I know I know I know, I’ve been here for 3 months, how the heck have I not been to a disco yet?! I’m debating whether or not to call this my first real disco experience. Apparently it’s the low season in Valpo, especially with the rain, so the disco was fairly empty. We danced to a few songs, a band came in and played a short set, and then more dance music until about 3:30. Then we decided that things probably weren’t going to pick up and figured we should just get back to the hostel.

We were up bright and early (okay, 10 AM. But really, we got home around 4 and the neighbors were playing incredibly loud music until probably 6) for the official field trip with our study abroad program. It was raining once again, and even harder than it had rained the night before. Of course we went out on a boat ride in the bay.

The boat ride gave us some cool views of Valparaíso and also taught us a little bit of history. Fishing and shipping are big industries in Valpo. The city was the most important port in Chile for a long time (now it’s San Antonio). We also learned that the word for sea lion in Castellano is “lobos del mar”- sea wolves!

Shipping Containers. You know what they call them in Spanish? Containers.

Fishing boats! Don’t you love their colors and the fact that they’re all named after women?

Sea wolves! Although I still think their furry collars resemble a lion’s mane.

The view of Valpo from the bay. Thank the “Enhance” option in iPhoto that these photos aren’t entirely gray. Because that’s what it looked like that day.

After that we went up to a mirador, or a viewpoint, to look down at the city and the sea. My photos aren’t very interesting. After about fifteen minutes we went back to the bus and got ready for lunch.

Empanada photo time!

Empanada de mariscos- seafood. This thing was packed with shellfish. So delicious.

Reineta a la plancha- grilled reineta, the standard fish in Chile.

My vegetarian friend S.’s salad. Vegetarians can survive in Chile!

After that we had another brief walking tour of Valpo. Very brief- it was getting colder and wetter the more we did. We went up an ascensor, one of the old escalator cars that transported people up and down the hills of Valpo. We saw parts of the old English/German neighborhood and visited a newly opened art museum. Here are a few photos to take you the rest of the way.

This is the seat of the commander-in-chief of the Navy in Chile. There were also naval ships all over the bay.

Up the ascensor! It gets scary at the top and you think you’re going to fall all the way back down. Okay, that might be just me…

More graffiti! I really like this mural.

Requisite shot of the colorful houses nestled into the hills. Imagine this in the sunshine!

Chao chao, Valparaíso! I can see how it’d be the valley of paradise. It just wasn’t on the days that we went.

With love,



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2 responses to “Valley of Paradise?

  1. Some great street art on the highway leading to Vino del mar…Is a nice walk actually from center of Valpo to Vino…along the coast…or take a micro.
    Some of the pieces are actually underneath the highway and trickier to get to 😦

    • Hello! I never made it to Viña when I was in Chile- a shame really, since I lived in Santiago and could have taken a bus and found a cheap hostel on almost any weekend. I didn’t know there was art under the highway though! Cool tip!

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