We rented a car in Santiago to drive further North along the Chilean coastline. Our first stop was Valparaiso, 115 km West of Santiago, a large laid-back picturesque bay surrounded by 45 colourful hills, the legendary ‘Cerros’, a labyrinth of stairs, lifts and ancient funiculars, all accessible by foot. Valparaiso is home to many street artists, poets, writers and musicians (poet Pablo Neruda was one notable former residents). It is a fascinating, inventive, bohemian city that never stops to surprise you.
We strolled in the colourful streets for hours and hours, admiring graffiti, markets, musicians and amazing views on the bay and the Pacific Ocean… A bit of imagination suffices to picture an encounter with an old “cap hornier” in one of the harbour slums. Until 1914, date of the opening of the Panama Canal, Valparaiso was the main port of the continent where clippers coming from Europe and the East coast of the US stopped for a well-deserved break after passing the dreaded Cape Horn.
We tried some of the old funiculars to avoid having to climb up and also boarded a local bus, the “Micro O”, who drives around the cerros and offers a beautiful view on the city.
You get it, we loved Valparaiso!
Next stop: San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)