Morning of the 4th we left the hostel with a small army of 8 people (4 Canadians, 2 Germans, an Aussie and an Argentinian) set to explore the port city of Valparaiso, fondly referred to as Valpo. One of the staff at the hostel gave us a great map with directions throughout the city including some real hotspots. So with that we hopped on a bus driven by the Chilean Michael Schumacher and made it to Valpo in no time! Then the exploring began following the hastily draw map and our own intuition.
I’ll be honest. I’m not very good with the names of places we went but everything was very cool. Valpo starts on the ocean and just climbs the surrounding hills covering every inch. The houses and buildings are all brightly coloured creating a rainbow effect across the hills.
I tried to run a low cost tour service for our group of people (knowing nothing of the city or history) but a couple still decided to join up with a Tours for Tips after my great tour! Apparently you learn a lot more and there are free drinks at the end…something I do not provide, for wealth and safety reasons.
The main draw in Valpo is the graffiti that seems to cover every inch of the city. There are pieces on doorways, in alleys and on the sides of 20 story buildings. It’s incredible to see all the styles and stories the art is trying to share. My favorite was of a fox holding a heart and an earth. Valpo also has funiculars (or as we came to call them “wildly sketchy outdoor elevators” – pretty close to a direct translation). They cost only $100pesos for a trip and boy is that money well spent! Saves us churro filled tourists the embarrassment of climbing stairs.
After our adventure we jumped back on the bus (which are $400 peso/person) and made our way back to Viña. Becca and I then crafted a pretty delicious meal of free hostel rice, ground beef, avocado and red pepper with crushed tortilla chips for dinner. Unfortunately we were too tired to enjoy the 4 dollar beers and went to bed pretty early.
The morning of the 5th brought with it some wild fog and a touch of rain even though our weather apps told us it was Sunny and 17… so we’re going to be more cautious of trusting weather apps. Also, Becca and I stored our big bags at the hostel in Santiago and only brought our carry ons with essentials and some clothes ready for a beach weekend. Unfortunately it’s about 10 degrees colder on the beach and I only packed 1 T-shirt and no sweaters… I guess this has become a learning moment.
Anyways, we decided for the day to be a fairly low key one and went to check out the local mall (super cultured). Enjoyed a Completo Italiano (imagine a hotdog covered in tomatoes, guacamole and mayonnaise, so it looked like the Italian flag) DELICIOUS! We may or may not have also tried half a dozen churros (on account of us not being able to understand what we were ordering) and maybe a churro covered in chocolate, but we can’t confirm those facts.
The afternoon was very laid back consisting of Spanish learning, reading and chatting with hostel folk. Becca and I were feeling pretty drained so dinner consisted of cheese and crackers and a banana (Michelin Star dining). The evening got even more wild, with a fast paced no hold bars game of Spanish Monopoly! Canada vs. Germany vs. Argentina, proud to announce that yours truly (Kyle) was victorious.
The morning of the 6th we woke up early to get organized to check out. Which is quite easy when you only pack 1 T-shirt and are wearing it. Then with our new friend Ariel, we went to Concon to explore the sand dunes. These natural dunes stick out like sore thumb surrounded by a growing city. The highest dune towers over 15 floor buildings and gives a commanding view of the surrounding coast line. Unfortunately we went to early to get sand boards and try our hand at not breaking bones while speeding down sand slopes. If you want to board then go around 2:30 or later, that’s when the boards are for rent (only $1000 pesos for an hour, we were told to get one for a group because you get tired walking back up the hill).
We rocketed back to Viña and got all of our stuff out of the hostel (most hostels will store your things for free after check out), and took off for the bus station. The buses here run like clock work and we had purchased an open return ticket. This allowed us to show up at the station and hop on the next free bus which lucky for us was 3 minutes after we got there. Tonight will be spent in and around the hostel, maybe sampling some of the local beverages, maybe not. But yah, we definitely are.