Valparaiso Chaos

Port of Valparaiso

Port of Valparaiso

I was invited by a friend to visit Valparaiso, who thought I would enjoy this unique city she’s called home for nearly a dozen years. Considering the fact that I’m taking the time to write down my thoughts about it, I’d say she was either very right or very wrong. Well in fact she was very right. Be it the winding streets carving their way through the many hills, the beautiful harbourfront, the vast vineyards, or the incredibly colourful structures in the old part of the city, Valparaiso gave me more to photograph than any other place I’ve been to in some time.
Valparaiso is just 70km from Santiago, the starting point of many Chilean trips, and yet isn’t frequented all that often by travellers, certainly not the backpackers who prefer the more out of the way, obscure locales. I guess there doesn’t seem to be much to do here on the surface, other than doing some horseback riding, or visiting one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, but for me, it’s so much about stuff to do as it is stuff to see. I want to see things that I’ll remember for a long time. I’ve never understood people who travel around the world for a vacation, and then just sit on a beach the whole time. What’s the point of that?
If you want to see awesome sights, then the historic district of Valpo has to be at the top of your list. This area sits firmly in the middle of the town, once the most important in Chile, until the Panama Canal helped divert sea traffic from the coasts. Atop the town now sits the residential areas, but lower and upper class. The lower, flat section of Valpo is devoted mostly to industry and trade, including the port area. There are funiculars which help quickly transport you around the city. Valpo is still a major port and trading destination, and still ranks as one of the largest port cities along the Pacific Ocean.

Cerro Baron

Cerro Baron

Unfortunately I never got to see some of Valpo’s famous sunny weather while I was here. With Santiago being so gloomy and hazy most of the time, Valpo has become notable for the contrast it provides, with bright clear skies and sun at most times. The misty, almost haunting weather really added something to the photos though, except for the brightly coloured houses in the historic district, which I would’ve liked to snap on a bright day. I stayed at a hostel during my time here, not wanting to inconvenience my friend, and it was one of the best hostels I’ve been to. The La Luna Sonrisa had wonderful staff who really made me feel welcomed, and the other guests were great as well. There were only a couple, an American exchange student, and a Dutch journalist, as it was a down time of year, and like I said, Valpo isn’t a routine stop on the backpacker’s typical circuit of Chile. Which is a real shame, because there’s so much to see here, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.