Hey all! I'm super excited to tell you all about what I did in what is so far my favorite place that I've visited --- Valparaíso! Due to requests for a larger font, this post appears quite a bit longer than it is, plus pictures. Read on if you dare!
|In the kitchen of our hostel|
We took a bus from Santiago to the city on Wednesday and arrived in Valparaíso (val-par-eye-EEE-so --- Valpo for short) late afternoon. After making our way to where we were staying, La Nona Bed and Breakfast, we met the owner, René. He was absolutely awesome, honestly one of my favorite people that I've met in Chile. He spoke English fluently, and was extremely helpful with anything and everything that we needed during our stay.
|First view of the city!|
After René gave us a thorough explanation of the city, including a bunch of recommendations and insider information, we decided to explore, mainly so that we could find food. We went to Fauna, a fantastic restaurant on Cerro Alegre (or "Happy Hill"), and afterwards we took some pictures and explored a couple of the little shops on our road --- a pretty relaxing evening. Based on René's advice and our personal interests, we planned what we wanted to see and do during our time in the city.
|With "Wally" (Lukas) in what once|
was the house of one of the richest men
in Valparaíso during the Gold Rush era
|One of the streets on our tour; I love the colors!|
After eating, we all trekked together up one of the steepest and longest staircases that I've ever faced to explore Valparaíso's Museo de Cielo Abierto, which is an area filled with murals. This wasn't quite as exciting as we'd hoped, however, and we continued up the hill to Pablo Neruda's Valparaíso home. The French and British members of our group wanted to explore more of the city, so we parted ways and my group went into Neruda's house, La Sebastiana.
|This is what Neruda would see from his living room|
|Graffiti of one artist's interpretation of Valparaíso|
|We even saw an artist at work!|
Some of the artwork was very beautiful, detailed, and intricate, and made me wish that I had even a touch of artistic ability; others... not so much. But all of the graffiti, good and bad, added to the bold flavor and personality of this city that I loved so much.
|My favorite graffiti that we encountered on our excursions|
On Friday we started our day by visiting one of Valparaíso's three cemeteries. We visited one of the Catholic cemeteries that overlooks the ocean, El Cementerio Playa Ancha, We were accompanied by one of the security guards, who told us about the history of the burial grounds, how the plot process works, and a couple of the urban legends related to the cemetery. For example, supposedly there's a ghost attached to the cemetery. Émile Dubois is supposedly the Chilean version of Robin Hood, and after he was murdered it is said that his ghost took up residence in the cemetery and can be seen on occasion. His spirit has almost reached saint status, and there's even a portion of the cemetery with a "grave" for Dubois (his body was never recovered) and people pray to him, ask for favors, and thank him for "taking care" of them by leaving gifts at the gravesite.
|The story behind this tomb is that the man made a pact with the devil to be successful in his life, and that when he died if he touched the earth, he would go to Hell. So, he found a loophole --- he had his coffin put on lion's feet above the earth.|
|Me, Hayley, Jen, Jackie, and Sarinah on our boat tour|
|Our group pre-ride!|
Saturday was quite the adventure for me. We had been hoping to do a horseback ride along the beach during the full moon of that night with René and his friend who does horse excursions, but there weren't enough people signed up for the evening ride; instead, we went for a half-day ride starting in the morning. We were joined by about 25 other American and German students studying in Viña del Mar, the sister city of Valparaíso, so our group was quite large.
I had been quite nervous about the ride because I hadn't ridden in probably over a decade (thankfully, my horse was extremely calm and patient with novice-rider me), but I'm so glad that we went. The ride was beautiful as we went up and down sand dunes and along the beach. Viña and Valpo looked just as gorgeous from far away as they were up close, and I will never forget the experience. I'd really like to go back and do it again someday --- after I've gotten better at riding, of course.
|The city from afar|
|Cooking the meat|
|With René during the asado|
We ate until we were stuffed, and while we digested we just took in the atmosphere. I'd never been to the Chilean campo, or countryside, before, and I really enjoyed seeing how the lifestyle was different there than in Chilean cities: chickens running underfoot, cats and dogs begging for scraps, grill smoke filling the air, and children practicing shooting guns with their grandpa --- in other words, not quite what you'd see in an urban area. After the asado, we headed back to Valpo to rest, make last-minute purchases, and prepare for our journey back to Chillán.
|Catching horses with lassos|
I really really REALLY liked Valparaíso: the colors, the artwork, the ocean, the Bohemian culture that is so unlike the Chilean culture that I've seen, everything. I'd love to go back just to explore some more, even though there's nothing specific that I want to see... I guess I'll just have to see what the future holds. From what I have seen, however, I feel like this is one city that I could spend quite a bit of time in --- maybe even live in it :O Again, I'll have to see what the future holds and what God has in store for me!
Thanks for reading! I hope that you enjoyed! Until my next adventure...
|Such colorful houses|
|I love this picture for its colors|
|The artists are super creative in Valpo|
|La Armada de Chile is situated in Valparaíso|