This post is continued from Clint and Ashley’s travels in Santiago Chile. Clint and Ashley dropped everything in Colorado to travel the world with their Mountainsmith travel gear, and want to show you that you can do it to. Here is the latest from their time spent in Valparaiso, Chile…
With all of our gear loaded in our Mountainsmith packs we navigated a few blocks of busy city streets from our apartment in Santiago to the Santa Lucia Metro stop. After purchasing our tickets we hopped on the subway to the Pajaritos station where we’d be able to catch a bus to Valparaiso. The ride between Santiago and Valparaiso was very comfortable and only took about an hour and a half.
We passed several vineyards that seemed to be calling our names for a visit but something must have been lost in translation as the bus driver clearly didn’t hear the beckoning of the wineries as we had.
We hopped in a cab to our accommodations in Valpo and were amazed at how big of a city it was. Both of us expecting a somewhat sleepy port town – more akin to a fishing village perhaps – our assumptions were completely off base. Much larger geographically and faster paced than we had imagined, Valparaiso was a surprise.
We checked in and quickly headed out in search of coffee and food. After enjoying cappuccino and a snack while overlooking the port we began exploring the cerros (hills) of Valparaiso. More color per square inch than any place we’ve ever seen, we lost ourselves walking around Valpo for the next few hours. Between the vibrantly colored houses and the incredible graffiti murals that are ubiquitous in the city, there is nothing dull or drab about this place (despite the fact that we had grey, misty weather for two and a half of our days there).
After we made our way down to a local microbrewery, we opted to use an ascensor for our ride home. Located throughout the city, ascensors are the lifts that transport people up and down the hills that the city is built on. Imagine a gondola on railroad tracks and there you have it.
For our second day on the coast we decided to explore the resort town of Viña del Mar. While inquiring with our host, Andres, about the best way to get there we told him we were thinking about walking. He said that although it was far, it was still possible to walk. Always up for a challenge, we determined that it would be a good adventure.
Despite the weather being uncooperative, we set out for Viña and were able to trace the water pretty much the entire way there. Over the course of 2 hours on foot we visited the fish market right on the water, came across a large group of (horrible smelling) sea lions, passed a few public exercise areas, met several stray dogs, and were turned away from the Valparaiso Yacht Club (apparently I had forgotten to ask Jeeves to phone ahead to announce our arrival at the club) before eventually arriving in Viña.
Once again, the town was not as we had imagined. Viña was also much busier and urban than anticipated. After wandering the hills and streets for a couple of hours we had decided we’d put enough kilometers on our shoes for the day and hopped a local micro (minibus) back to Valpo. Holding on tight we braced ourselves as the driver weaved in and out of traffic at an impressive yet alarming speed en route to Valparaiso.
The following day was dedicated to exploring the cerros of Valparaiso. We stopped by La Sabastiana, one of the homes Pablo Neruda kept in Chile, and wandered throughout the Bellavista area and other parts of town admiring the incredible murals that seemingly appear on every block.
That evening we began chatting with a couple that we thought we recognized from the trail up to San Cristobal in Santiago a few days earlier. It turned out that we were in fact on the same hike a couple of days before and strangely enough they too are from Colorado (Vail)! We had a great conversation and played the name game to identify a few common acquaintances back home in Colorado. The world really is a small place.
The following morning we decided to head back to Santiago for a few more days before exiting Chile and moving on to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ashley’s incredible researching skills landed us with a reservation back in our same apartment building in Santiago but for a $100 less for the same number of nights!
Although the weather didn’t do us any favors, we enjoyed our time on the Chilean coast. Valparaiso was a great experience and we will certainly come back for another visit the next time our travels bring us to Chile.