I am in love. Colourful, vibrant Valparaiso. Steep and narrow little alleyways everywhere. Street art, beautiful old buildings, some brightly painted, others neglected and run down. Interesting people. Sophistication and poverty, all intertwined in this magical city clinging to the side of a mountain, overlooking the pacific ocean.
We arrived here at night after a long bus journey. The place alive with merchants and residents embracing the start of the weekend. The streets bright and noisy and buzzing. An abundance of bars and restaurants and little corner stores, stocking everything from toilet paper to wine.
We weaved our way through the bodies and little alleys until we found ourselves in the heart of the old city of Valparaiso. Here we stood and stared and drank in the fun and excitement and beauty of a place shaped by wealth and neglect, earthquakes and tragedies, the arts, rebellion and those seeking significance and meaningful endeavours.
As we meandered our way up and down brightly painted staircases, up and around and over an array of buildings and walls, all connected, we were hardly aware of our heavy backpacks. So consumed were we by all the sights, that we didn’t realise how far and how long we’ve been walking for. It was very late by the time we found our hostel. Not exactly a family home, but very, very interesting. The people too! All sorts. Mainly young and single.
We were thrilled to bed down in our rustic quarters. By the time we discovered the bedding was rather dirty and the place very noisy, we’ve already convinced ourselves that this was paradise. We didn’t get much sleep with a bottle shop directly below us and open all night and the alley “highway” of Valparaiso being our very street. But it was worth it. We felt a connectedness with the place and the people and we’ve had some significant conversations with those around us.
Valparaiso attracts all different types of people. There are the real artists who actually make art, there are the wanna be weirdos with strange hairstyles, most wonderful clothes and crazy piercings and then there are the ultra conservatives who gulp and look at all of this in amazement and secretly wish they were a little more adventurous.
The best thing to do in this city is simply to get lost in the little streets and to walk into every open door. There are the most incredible surprises in the most obscure little buildings. Food is another great adventure if you’re willing to simply go with what the locals recommend. Wine is cheap and mostly good. Craft beer in ginormous glasses and fancy surroundings versus cheap local bottled beer in sometimes drab and sometimes super bright, not so fancy, little rooms.
We walked many a mile in this gorgeous place and still I haven’t had enough of it. We ran every day too. Sometimes far out along the ocean shores and sometimes up and down the steep hills and through the busy markets. We always attracted lots of stares and friendly “Hola!”s. Our hearts are so full of happy memories. Valparaiso is simply wonderful!
– Mariza –