Val easily lives up to the universal recommendation of a the city not to miss in Chile. It is an old, beautiful, decayed, artistic, very hilly, energetic and amazing city. I´ll not try to compete with the guidebooks or poets. I like Pablo Neruda´s description of yet another of his home towns (he also had homes in Santiago and Isla Negra):
what a lunatic,
what a head –
finished combing your hair,
to get dressed,
death has awoken you,
in your nightshirt,…
The full Ode can be seen here: http://www.tumblr.com/search/ode%20to%20valparaiso
I stayed in a hostel to which I took one of the many ancient funiculars (of the 26 originals built in late 1800s and early 1900s, 8 are still in operation) that scale the hills.
If you´d like to know more about them, see:
On the way toward the Valparaiso bus terminal in Santiago, I approached a woman to ask which metro stop to take. She said ¨I´m going also to Valparaiso, so just follow me.¨ We became friends right away, and she hung out with me and the 2 recently graduated high school students I met in Santiago (who stayed at my Val hostal) pictured below for a day when we rented a car to go to northern towns and beaches:[I have no idea why the font changed or how to fix it] I joked with the boys about them not playing high school basketball (do Swedes play basketball?!) at 6´4¨when I did–our team was desperate. Roberta is a grandma with a son and daughter and 2 grandkids, who has been divorced twice. She studied English in Miami, where she fell in love with and married a Cuban academic. After some years, she decided her mother and kids needed her, and wanted to join them. He sadly gave her an ultimatum, him or the kids, and she left. We talked about health and fitness, and we traded yoga and xi gong moves. She´s an up front Pinochet supporter who said the communists came to middle class neighborhoods and threatened to take away their property. Below are some of the pics from our day trip north of Val.
More (and better) pics of Pablo´s 3 homes can be seen here:
I spent many hours wandering the streets gawking at the art covering so many buildings, expecially in an area below Neruda´s house that emphasizes art everywhere. Here´s a taste:
As in all Chilean towns devastated by earthquakes, there is a mix of new and old structures. Here are a couple examples of the older beauties:
A couple miscellaneous shots:
But don´t settle for these, check out other amazing photos (someone overdid it with the color enhancement, though I can´t imagine the need to do so!):
I also met the first such person my age traveling the way I do on this trip–Jerry at our hostal. He said he has been on the road for 30 months (about 3 to 6 months in each country), which he called a short trip. He claims to be traveling until he dies, and therefore hopes that this is the very short end of his journey. Jerry said he retired when his son finished college, and hit the road. I asked if he raised his kid alone, and he said that he was married for over 20 years, and that one piece of business was to get a divorce before he started traveling. Says his wife wanted to continue spending money as they had and living in the same place. He wanted to stop making money and travel. He chided me for missing Carol, wondering why I´d miss a wife. He commented that he and his wife made an agreement when they were married: she would be right 50% of the time, and he would be wrong 50% of the time. I let him know that Carol is making all the money, and that we both understand I´m right all the time:)
If you´re planning on traveling to Mexico, Central or S. America (at this point or elsewhere in the future), I recommend his very detailed blog that outdoes the guidebooks in some ways: seniorbackpacker.wordpress.com.
My favorite graffiti on a set of city steps: Donde hay justica, no hay problemas. Where there is justice, there are no problems.