Valparaiso

Landing in Santiago again, we felt like total pros. We knew exactly where to go and what to do and the bus schedule and route… what a difference a couple of weeks make. We caught the bus from the airport, arriving at the bus station where we bought tickets found our platform and boarded a bus to Valparaiso, all in about 10 minutes. Total pros :) The bus trip out to the coast was an interesting glimpse into what the rest of our trip will be like.

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Arriving in Valparaiso without much of a plan, we stood outside the bus station for a while, trying to figure out what to do. Between the micro buses and the collectivo taxis our pro-status was totally shattered. Thoroughly confused, we finally managed to hail a taxi and figure out directions to our apartment, which turned out to be a fun adventure in itself with the tiny, winding streets and the steep hills. Once we were settled in our apartment we made our way back down the hills to explore the city. Since we were staying up in the hillside, making our way down to the flatlands (El Plan) was a fun wander down super street hills and colorful houses… we were already loving Valparaiso.

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First stop was lunch at a local microbrewery for one of the best meals of the trip, a vegetarian meze plate and a couple of local brews.

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Afterwards we took one of the ancient ascensors (funiculars) up to the old town which sits on top of the hills looking over the bay.

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Since everyone else seemed to be taking a turn on the slide at the top, I figured I should give it a try, too.

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We loved wandering around the old town, full of winding alleyways and beautiful street art covering every available surface. The whole place seems like one big art gallery. Between the friendly stray dogs and the colorful walls, we were loving the vibe.

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The afternoon was spent with one big wander about town, ending at the grocery store to gather supplies for the next few days. We’re still perplexed by the fact that quinoa is nowhere to be found in any store we’ve checked. I don’t understand why. It’s a staple for us back in the US and we naively assumed that a food that originates from South America would be easier to find in South America. Alas, this has not been the case. As expected, we’re also missing peanut butter, which has also been challenging to find. We ended the day back at the apartment making dinner and enjoying the sunset view over the harbor.

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The next couple of days in Valparaiso we took advantage of a nice home base to enjoy some downtime. We chilled out at the apartment and took some nice walks around our neighborhood, as well as back downtown and anywhere that looked interesting. Valparaiso is a bit confusing to me, particularly up in the hills where we were staying. Here’s our apartment building:

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And then the view out our window:

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Walking in either direction from our building the houses alternate between lovely, modern homes, followed by near slums, and everything in between. I couldn’t figure out the vibe of the neighborhood or what it would be like to live there, but it was interesting to experience.

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We spent some time wandering back into the old town, which of course resulted in stopping to check out a Volkswagen or two parked among the scenery :)

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One of the highlights of our apartment was the amazing view of the harbor. Since our little shipping container is about a month late it’s a teensy bit painful, but otherwise totally interesting to hang out on the balcony and watch the shipping vessels loaded with containers coming in and out.

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We were fascinated, especially now, since we now have a better idea of everything that goes into moving those containers around. In addition to the commercial boats, the harbor is also home to a whole fleet of Chilean military ships, which came and went during our stay. We even saw a submarine come in and dock for a few days – so awesome!!!

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