We wanted to get out of the city and smell some ocean air, so we figured the nearby town of Valparaíso was as good a destination as any. It’s a really colorful city built into the hillside about an hour and a half bus ride outside of Santiago. We pretty much arrived, had a drink and a bite to eat, took a walking tour, and left. I wish we had more time to spend there and meant to go back, but our half-day will have to suffice for now.
The city was a maze, so the walking tour with Tours 4 Tips was a life saver. They did an amazing job of showing you beautiful spots that you would have been hard pressed to find on your own and also filling you in on the history of the city along the way. Highly recommended. They give two tours a day, 7 days a week, and the tour guy dresses as Waldo. So, you literally play a real world game of Where’s Waldo? to begin your day.
Valparaiso was once Chile’s richest city because it held a vital port for the country. Everyone traveling between the Atlantic and the Pacific used Valparaiso as their stop over point. Although Santiago is the capital of Chile, Valparaiso is where the National Congress resides. Other claims to fame: Latin America’s oldest stock exchange, South America’s first volunteer fire department (all of Chile’s fire departments are volunteer now which is quite impressive), Chile’s first public library, and it is also the home to the oldest Spanish language newspaper still in publication. Once the Panama Canal opened, the city lost a lot of its glory, but is still a top destination is Chile.
I’m gonna’ tell General Sotomayor’s story by memory, so take this as hearsay. The General’s Chilean ships were up against Peruvian ships in a battle fought for what is now Northern Chile. The Chilean ships were wooden, weak, and out numbered, but Sotomayor came up with the great idea to get his ship as close as possible to the Peruvian ship containing their General…or Captain…who whatever his title was. Then he jumped onto the ship to kill the Peruvian General himself. He failed and the Chilean ship went down along with everyone on board. Sotomayor became a martyr and this sparked the War of the Pacific. Chile won in the end!
This is a perfect example of how graffiti works in Valparaiso. If someone knocks on your door and asks if they can paint your house then you say “YES” because then you get beautiful artwork (like this yellow building), if you say “No” then your building ends up looking like the blue one.
This lower path in the middle is the mule trail. Mule’s were used to carry things up the hills, so they built heightened sidewalks so that ladies walking wouldn’t step in waste along the path.