04.09.2010 0 °F
To get to Valparaiso from Patagonia it's a 6 hour flight followed by a 1.5 hour bus ride and believe me it ain't fun. Valparaiso though was worth the journey. This place is a gem. UNESCO had it right when it declared this town a world heritage site. My best description of Valparaiso would be like putting San Francisco into a blender and when you pour that shit out you get Valparaiso. The hills, the quirky streets, the architecture, the urban sprawl, the art, the culinary scene, this town has it all and San Francisco doesn't even come close. The only thing about this town that sucks is the dog shit and I already stepped in some. Tourists are everywhere in this town unlike Patagonia...well I mean foreign tourists. Americans, Argentines, and yes even Euro trash they're all here. Valparaiso is basically two parts: the flat commercial area and then the hills or Cerros. The best thing to do in this town is to explore these Cerros and basically just get fucken lost because every turn, every alley, every whatever is bad ass. Oh and a good buzz helps too.
If you're fat and out of shape, well, good luck exploring Valparaiso. The hills here are intense so for those that are not athletic they built these funiculars that take you up and down the hills. It's 100 Chilean pesos one way and I took one up and down just for the heck of it. They don't look or feel very sturdy so just have faith.
There's art everywhere in this town and Chileans were correct in calling Valparaiso the cultural capital. Creativity oozes out of every nook and cranny. The lamp posts along the street leading down the hill from our hostal were turned into a mosaic. While I was taking pictures of these lamp posts a lady walking by told me to put my "machine" away if I were to continue down lower. That's the downside of this town...petty crime. My camera is huge! I can't have my camera out for pictures too long before I get uneasy stares.
After getting lost down in the flat commercial district I finally made it to Cerros Concepcion and Alegre. These are two adjacent hills known for 19th century homes painted with bright colors and sweeping vistas of central Valparaiso and the port. These hills have the best restaurants and cafes in town. The first cafe we went to was alright and it was only because Judy needed food and was starting to get cranky.
Thereafter we went to Cafe Vinillo for some drinks. Cafe Vinillo has a variety of micro brews made by the owner and yes they didn't disappoint in taste. I had the blonde and the brown ale. Both are excellent so I'll be heading back to this place tonight to try the other brews. The only strange thing was that they served my beer in a wine glass. Also tried an ice cream desert but I have no fucken idea what the flavor was but it looked nice. Wasn't too excited about the taste and the texture was too icy. They have art plastered all over the place so it's nice to look at and the atmosphere and the servers are great. I had a Pisco Sour here and I still have yet to like this national drink of Chile. I talked to an American lady here who was originally from the D.C. area but have been living in Europe for the last 7 years. I think her hubby was a French dude. It was nice to converse in English again. Almost forgot the damn language.
With my buzz on I walked around some more to get better views of central Valparaiso. We stumbled upon Brighton, which is a B&B with amazing views of town. The place was too busy at first but we came back later and got a table on the patio. I ordered a soup and inhaled that motherfo! It's a cream of pumpkin with razor clams and fried camembert. Think clam chowder but with pumpking instead of potatoes. I want some more. I also ordered a Pisco Sour in my quest to find a place that makes this damn drink good. And I have to admit Brighton makes a very good Pisco Sour. I also had a Valparaiso micro brew and that beer didn't disappoint. While enjoying this cafe we talked to a couple from Argentina and they recommended a few beach towns north of here for us to visit so we'll most def hit these spots. The Argentines also commented on my gigantic camera and called it a machine as well. I also saw some Americans here at Brighton and could spot them from a mile away...homeboy was wearing basketball shorts, a UCLA t-shirt and Nikes.
I bought another souvenir from Chile and while I was taking a picture of my purchase and older Chilean man said to me that the dude on the magnet I was buying was the best president ever. I asked how he compared to Castro and wasn't sure if I offended him or not. I remembered not to talk about this country's Communist past so I didn't pursue the conversation further. The magnet was of Pinochet but it read Pinoshit. For years Pinochet ruled Chile with an iron fist and was put into power by the CIA after a military coup. The president was assassinated and Pinochet was given the reigns. A part of Chilean history that most of them would like to forget.
As I had mentioned earlier there's a huge art scene here in Valparaiso. Here are a few shots of murals around town. I also ran into an artists making a mural out of bottle caps. He was turning the walls around a small park into art and had kids sort out the bottle caps for him.
So far Valparaiso has captured me with her charm and unexpectedness. I'm also excited that this town didn't disappoint with the food. I'll post about tonight's dinner soon since I have yet to eat. I'm just trying to figure out how to get back to Cerros Concepcion from the hostel. The streets and street names here are not easy to remember...well, except for this one.