Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Colourful hills of Valparaiso

From Santiago, the bus ride to Vina del Mar is only 2 hours west. Vina del Mar (Garden City) is a touristy beach town that is crowded in the high season with beach lovers and vacationing people from Santiago. It was a chilly fall day when we arrived so after getting Jana and Igma settled with their friends we bussed over to nearby Valparaiso to find a place to stay.

Valparaiso is a Unesco World Heritage site and is considered the cultural capital of Chile. It is Chile's first port and from the shore the downtown lies at the bottom of several Cerros (hills) on which colourful houses are precarioulsy stacked. The hills are connected to each other and to the downtown via step footpaths and the city's famous elevators, built between 1883 and 1916. We spent the day exploring a bit of the city with Jana and Igma, ascending the hills in the elevators and walking down through the narrow, steep streets.

We said goodbye to Jana and Igma after having dinner with them at the home of their friends in Vina del Mar. We spent one more day in Valparaiso wondering up and down and around the Cerros and in a downtown park. On our walk we came accross the Museo Cielo Abierto, an open air museum. It was a few streets at the top of a Cerro that showcased art on some of the walls of buildings.

It was cool but sunny so good weather for taking in this amazing city. Time to head North, and the next day we boarded a bus for La Serena, a 6 hour ride.

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