SEE and DO: Valparaiso, Chile
It has been nearly a month since I last posted. Life has been weirdly difficult and the creative writing energy just isn’t flowing. It isn’t flowing really well in my aerial practice either but I know that in all things there are plateaus (and valleys, ugh). Right now, I am finding a lot of comfort in knitting and crocheting because it keeps my hands and mind busy, I’m making something, and it is soothing. I never thought I’d say that it is soothing, but I’ve been seeing a therapist for anxiety and some situational depression, and doing a repetitive task like knitting or crocheting in the evening is very helpful for me.
But back to Chile! I think I mentioned previously that Valpo reminded me a lot of San Francisco because it was hilly, on the Pacific, filled with colorful buildings, the weather was cool and ever-changing, and the people were laid back and friendly. I’ll compare Santiago to another California city when I write about it but for now, on to the first Chilean adventure!
Favorite things I did and/or saw in Valparaiso:
Tours 4 Tips Walking Tours: My friend booked this tour and then due to her flights being canceled, didn’t arrive for our first day. So, I went by myself - not a problem at all but I am sad that she missed it because it was quite good. Tours 4 Tips is a company that gives free walking tours in various cities in South America and the tour guide is compensated by tips at the end. I can’t remember how much I tipped but I usually feel like $10-$30 USD for 3-4 hours is decent if you’re solo, a pair, or a family/group and depending how much you enjoyed your tour guide! Our tour had about 15-20 people on it and Natalia, our guide, was informative, funny, lively, and had interesting anecdotes about Valpo to share with us. We walked all over viewing street art, stopped at the harbor and various points of interest with great views, and I got a great lay of the land from the tour.
Graffiti Street Art Walking Tour: Lindsey also booked this tour and it was a beautiful sunny Saturday and we were the only two who showed up! I was a little sad for our guide, Francisco, that the other people didn’t show up but neither of us were sad that we had a private, personalized tour and got to ask all of the questions we wanted and could go at our pace. I think Francisco enjoyed guiding us around his city and educating us on all of his favorite artists and even showed us a few new pieces that he had not even seen in person but had only seen or heard about from social media. The best part of this tour was talking to him about his country and having him explain all of the political meanings behind the street art, the various styles and artists, and how long some of the pieces had been up. I’m planning to do a more in depth post on this too but I need to organize my thoughts.
La Sebastiana: Ahhhhh, one of the hillside homes of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. My friend and I read a biography about him before heading to Chile, since he was such a large part of Chilean history. I did not know much about him before the book, and I liked him very little after I finished it. (Sue me) That said, his home was interesting. It was preserved in time, had wonderful views (I’ll include some in a later post/photo round up of Chile), and the audio tour was one I actually liked since it was absolutely necessary to enjoy the tour. Photos were not allowed inside of La Sebastian and I was okay to just listen and observe.
Museo Cielo Abierto: The open air museum of Valparaiso was maybe my favorite thing about the city?. Yes, this is more public street art (can you tell I’m a fan) but this one is all outdoors and you could seriously spend an afternoon wandering through it and not be bored. Actually, you could probably go back a few times to revisit pieces and not be bored.
Ascensor Reina Victoria, Artillería funicular railway, and Ascensor El Espíritu: The elevators of Valparaiso are essential to the locals for public transportation, especially the older and/or less mobile population. The city is HILLY and the hills are STEEP. There are many winding public staircases too, some with really amazing public art, as you’ll see below, but the elevators were essential and frequented by us since the Reina Victoria (named after Queen Victoria of England) was really close to our hotel. The elevators and the funicular are not expensive to use, slow moving so that you can take photos and really enjoy the experience, and totally worth a ride or ten. Every time we encountered a new elevator or set of winding stairs, we were excited to take them and see where were would end up! The whole process of exploring Valparaiso reminded me a lot of exploring Venice, Italy for the first time. I’ve always had a “get lost and see where you end up” philosophy when exploring a city, no matter where I go this approach has led me to some of the best art, cafes, shops, and some of the best photo memories I’ve taken. I suggest it if you’ve never gotten lost.