Valparaiso

Mixed reviews on Valparaiso, a city to the northwest of Santiago on the Pacific coast. The entire city is a UNESCO world heritage site so we had high hopes and at first it was easy to see why. The town is a collection of neighborhoods built on different hills or “cerros” all overlooking the ocean and it all sort of looks like a more chaotic, dirty, and artsy San Francisco. Or maybe just San Fransisco circa 1960. The houses are colorful, but seem ready to collapse on top of one another at the smallest tremor. Chile gets quite a few of those thanks to its location in a major earthquake zone and a few years ago two giant 8.8 quakes hit the Pacific coast. Valparaiso is known for its street murals. Almost every surface area, walls, doors, steps, even entire houses, was decorated with some type of painted mural. Sometimes they were straight up graffiti, but mostly they were very artistic and made the entire city feel like an open air art gallery.

Alex was a bit more skeptical.
After walking around some of the different cerros, the realist felt the whole place seemed a bit dumpy – a colorful mess with too many hills that weren’t worth the strenuous walk to the top. The night was even worse. Lots of drunk teenagers with bad haircuts and weirdly empty streets. We saw Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and even that was subpar (actually I enjoyed it but I have notoriously bad taste in movies).

Next day I headed to San Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda’s house. Chile’s Nobel prize winning poet is worshipped like a god here and his house was a lot like Valparaiso: stunning views but filled with junky knick knacks. Alex went on mystery walk and we met up at the bus station where he promptly declared that Valparaiso was overrated. Trust him to always look on the bright side.

Nonetheless he still took lots of pictures:

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