V A L P A R A I S O (dedicated to our friend Cushla)
Unexpectedly an experience we will treasure! We were mesmerised by this fabulous creative colourful arty chaotic city. A place which manages to combine a relaxed coffee-culture atmosphere, political graffiti and a pulsing energetic vibe.
Oozing history culture art and mayhem - Chilean artist Pablo Neruda famously said: “Valparaiso, how absurd you are … you haven't combed your hair, you've never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you”.
We meandered for two days among the streets, stairs, paths and alley ways, sometimes taking the “ascensors” the rickety cable cars which appear unexpectedly and cart you up to the next ridge for just a few pesos – built during late 19th and early 20th centuries they lift you instantly from commercial city centre to relaxed housing. Surprises burst around each corner, splashes of colour followed by bright political messages followed by intricately detailed works of art, creating a total patchwork of colour texture and vibrance.
Valparaiso has an interesting and stormy history including being regularly looted by pirates, developing into a major pacific freight hub then being practically levelled by an earchquake in 1906 and having to be almost totally rebuilt. A delcine then followed due to the opening of the Panama canal in 1914 and today it is more of a cruise ship stopover and manages the increasing local exports, it was also voted Chile's cultural capital. It is famously difficult to navigate and even the cartographers struggle to produce an accurate map thus it is incredibly easy to get lost, if it wasn't for Martin's great navigation skills we may still have been wandering the alleyways!