Valparaiso is an interesting little hillside city. About an hour and a half (depending on Santiago traffic) northwest of Santiago - Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a cruise ship port.
Founded in 1543 Valparaiso was at one time the Pacific’s greatest port. Unfortunately as one gentleman told me, “She has gone from a Grand Dame to a faded silent film star.”
What an interesting analogy! For some reason what this man told me put thoughts of Acapulco from the 1960s in my head. Images of high-rise hotels, fashionable people lounging on the beach as waiters in khakis and white shoes served fruity and tropical drinks from little trays.
Well, Valparaiso certainly is not Acapulco from the 1960s. It is the opposite of that ideal. So upon first sight I was confused, and if I had been on my own I would have been reluctant to spend much time there.
Luckily we had enlisted the guidance of Vivian from ABC Tour. His passion and understanding of this faded Grand Dame certainly turned what could have been a disappointing day into one of the best days of our trip. He showed us the past and the present of this once mighty shipping port and even speculated on its future. Right from the beginning it was apparent that this transplanted Frenchman has found his soul mate in Chile and especially Valparaiso. If you plan on visiting Valparaiso be sure to contact Vivian if you want the inside tour and not the tourist route.
We began the tour at the top of the hillside city and worked our way down. At the top you take in the locals and you get to see how they live. The top is the heart of Valparaiso. It’s where you live and take care of your family. Down the hill into the port is where you work - it seems the locals prefer to be up on the hill.
THE HILLSIDE CITY:
|One of the many homeless dogs that are adopted by the locals. He seems happy!|
GRAND HOUSES FROM VALPARAISO'S PAST
THE PORT CITY:
|If you are a port city then you need a Naval Museum!|
ON THE PACIFIC'S EDGE:
I am absolutely thrilled to say that I have seen the Pacific Ocean from two different continents!
THE LOCAL CEMETERY:
This was by far the most unexpected part of the tour. Usually when somebody suggests we go visit the cemetery, 'I say thanks but no thanks.' However this time I really am glad somebody took me to the local cemetery.What an absolute display of joy and color-complete with the flags of the local football team!
THE STREET ART:
For me - my absolute favorite part of Valparaiso was the amazing street art!