Days spent: 2 + 1/2
Days recommended: 2 + 1/2
Where we slept: Beautiful Airbnb room with rooftop terrace in a shared house in Cerro Bellavista.
What we ate: avocado, tomatoes and eggs on toast for breakfast, chorrillana chilena (typical dish made of sliced beef, French fries, scrambled or fried eggs and fried onions, try it @ La Rosita del Puerto, an extravagant, locals-favourite tavern), beef and salmon sandwiches, torta de hojarasca con manjar aka thousand layers cake with caramel (@ El Desayunador, a casual and cozy lunch place in Cerro Concepcion), Chilean empanadas (which are bigger and, in our opinion, tastier than the Argentinian ones), dulce de leche filled Berliner (at whichever bakery).
What we drank: Pisco sour (sorry Chileans but the Peruvian is on another level), Escudo beer.
How we travelled: We reached Valparaiso from Mendoza with a nightbus (9 hours). Crossing the Chilean border takes a while and the custom controls are intense (DON’T take any fruits or vegetables with you from Argentina if you don’t want to pay very expensive fees). In Valparaiso we walked a lot and took occasional public transports.
How many km we walked: 40 km
How Valparaiso affected our wallets: we tried our best to keep it cheap. Chile can get easily quite pricey, especially when it comes to food.
Issues we encountered: don’t be too bold in Valparaiso. The narrow staircases and secret gloomy alleys screams WATCH OUT! This is probably the dodgiest city we visited, even during the day. We heard the most bizarre stories about people being robbed. And the closeness of its most touristic areas to the poorest cerros (/neighbourhoods) in town doesn’t really help. Me and Isa agreed on not taking chances after dark. We got also recommended never to take a cab from the street.
Would we recommend it? Absolutely, dubbed throughout the 19th century as the “jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaiso and its maze of colourful buildings and cobbled alleys on different hill levels are unique. It easily made it in my personal South American top 10.
Analogue tips: portraits, portraits and portraits. Apart from offering eye candy panoramic views, Valparaiso’s streets are born to be perfect photoshoot locations. I went for one of my favourite portraits film, Kodak Portra 160, and I love how the shots turned out.
Pay a visit to Fábrika, an atelier where analog pics of Valparaiso are printed according to handcrafted technique.
What to do:
Wear your most comfortable shoes, grab a city map which will allow you to stay away from the dodgiest districts (such as Cerro Cordillera), take your camera and start to explore. The best way to experience the “little San Francisco” and get to breathe its bohemian artsy vibes, is actually wandering around without a detailed plan of where you’re heading. The sites of interests are mainly concentrated on two hills connected by a panoramic road, Avenida Alemania (you might consider a romantic walk at sunset). Cerro Alegre and Concepcion are the most popular neighbourhoods amongst tourists and offer a wide choice of restaurants, bars and hostels, on top of a great series of graffiti. Cerro Bellavista is a bit less packed and gives home to La Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda’s dreamlike retreat, and to Museo a Cielo Abierto, an open air street art gallery. On the sea level you’ll find the less attractive part of the city which, on the eastern part of Plaza Sotomayor hosts the financial district, and on the western part, what it used to be Valparaiso downtown. The latter is currently quite rough and most of its building are in state of disrepair. From Plaza Sotomayor you can also access to the majestic harbour. If you walk downhill from Plaza Bismark (on Avenida Alemania), you’ll come across Parque Cultural Valparaiso, an ex jail which has now become a recreational centre, and Cerro Panteón, where the three cemeteries tower. You will eventually reach the colourful mosaic covered, Plaza del Descanso. While doing this you will bump into countless stray treat-hopeful dogs, that will start following you around in packs and will eventually steal your heart away.
If your feet hurt and the idea of climbing up the stairs of the umpteenth hill makes you want to cry, just take one of the typical escalator.
Things we missed: Cerro Polanco and its viewing point.
Who deserve a big thank you: Daniel and Claudio for the tips.
Olympus OM-10, Lomography Redscale 50-200 / Kodak Portra 160 (35)
Canon EOS 300, Fuji Velvia 50 (35, expired)
20-21-23/12/2016, Valparaiso (Chile)