Firstly, thanks to Michelle and Uncle Michael for their lovely comments.
So since we last spoke we have been to Valparaiso – or Valpo for short. It was a huge relief to get out of the smog of Santiago and into the fresh air and colourful surroundings of Valpo. It is a fascinating place surrounded by the most colourful hillsides you have ever seen and lots of interesting nooks and crannies with murals everywhere. The “ascensors” – funiculars, are dotted all over the place saving your legs from the worst of the steep climbs around the city – mind you, they are not so easy on the nerves if you are at all scared of ascending in a rickety old lift that you can see through the bottom of in places All part of the fun! Somehow time disappears in Valpo – you don’t need top do much more than mooch about the aforementioned nooks and crannies and stop for coffee or food to have a lovely time here.
We stayed in a lovely hostel too – Hostal Luna Sonrisa, with yummy breakfast and clean rooms – a far cry from Hostal Forestal in Santiago in which someone had managed to write “dirty” in the dirt on the shower wall (needless to say we were quite pleased to move on from that one).
In Valpo we visited a house – La Sebastiana – that had belonged to Pablo Neruda. The house was like a mini Valpo in itself – full of colour and nooks and crannies.
For the thrill seekers out there we would recommend going on a local bus around the hillside Cerro Alegre (from the bottom El Plan). When they are in a rush they barely stop moving to let the passengers off and on, this combined with the twists and turns on narrow roads makes for an exhilarating ride that tops most rollercoasters. Not all of the buses go at the same heart stopping rate, but we were luck enough to experience one:)
At the hostal in Valpo we met Kirsten and Hywel (hello if you are reading this) who had previously met a Canadian traveler that lived in Valpo – Kenny. Kenny had invited them out so we tagged along… hence the hangover.
We went to a small bar with live Chilean music – there was a fantastic lady singing her heart out accompanied by a guitarist and a man that switched seamlessly between drums, oboe and violin. At 2 am and too much red wine and pisco sour later we walked back up the hill to the hostal – a walk that seems much easier after the red wine than before it.
Next day was bye bye to Valpo, hello to Easter Island!