Whenever I arrived in a new city, I’m thirsty. Not literally (although I can be), but I want to explore, see and absorb as much as I can.
Even if it means going up and down steep streets.
Much of Valparaíso is built on several hills. There are tricks to get around easily: you can take a pasaje, usually a steep staircase cutting through between two streets, or you can ride one of the many ascensores, the antique mini-funiculars. “Machine, machine, machine!” Yes, Mark loved riding the funiculars. For only 100 pesos (a few cents), you step into an old wooden cabin, and when the “funicular master” (usually a guy as old as the cabin) judges there are enough lazy passengers, the doors are closed and the funicular goes up for a few scaringly steep meters. Repeat as needed all over the city.
“I walk, I walk!”
Yes, Mark. Please do walk. We don’t feel like pushing the stroller anyway.
Uphill offers a very scenic view of the city and the harbour. The narrow cobblestone-paved streets are pretty too, with many colourful façades and murals. These are “artistic” murals though, not the political kind you can find in the grittier centro.
We went uphill, downhill, uphill again and navigated the stairs and narrow turns. In a way, this area of Valparaíso reminded me of Antigua or Granada. Unfortunately, like many touristic districts, I found it a bit too polished and a tad too expensive. Restaurants, for instance, were the “French cuisine” or “fancy pasta” kind. To eat, we just headed downhill to the informal zócalo where locals were buying booze and relaxing outside to the sound of whatever hippie guy playing the guitar.
I loved the hotel we stayed in (Da Vinci Hotel, for those interested). The huge wooden house had a hostel feel with the top floor open to relax and a free-access kitchen. I spent hours there at night, relaxing and eating my yogurt and empanadas.