Valparaíso is a hell of a lot more crowded than I remember it. There are more stores and shops too, it seems, or maybe it’s because they are actually open this time. Our last visit was on January 2, 2017, it was still the holidays and also, there was a big fire.
We’re staying in one of Valparaíso’s main streets, uphill. It’s a bit of a climb, and when we’re done walking up the street, we have to climb impossibly steep stairs to the hotel room—in which they are also extra steps to the bedroom as if stairs were some kind of local addiction.
So, for our first big walk in Valparaíso, we went downhill. We’re not masochist. Well, I am, but Feng isn’t.
We started with the usual and the obvious—calle Blanco, Valparaíso’s harbour—then we more or less followed the shoreline through the city’s busy streets.
“Wanna go to Viña del Mar? We can take the train here,” I suggested when we reached Estación Barón.
Feng looked around. “Think it’s walkable?”
“To Viña del Mar?” I laughed. “Don’t ask me, I think pretty much anything is walkable! Hell, I’d walk to Santiago.”
We could kind of see Viña del Mar in the distance and there was a nice paved walk path. After Valparaíso’s chaotic streets, it seemed like a good choice.
And it started out fine as well. Feng bought a slice of watermelon and we saw sea lions. Then Mark noticed that “he had the EXACT same LEGO boat” as the ones in the port—giant cargo boats with cranes.
We kept on walking along the newly renovated paseo Wheelwright. Then, past Playa Caleta Portales, the paved road turned into sand and the brand new piers turned into rocky crumbling structures. Clearly, that part hasn’t been renovated yet.
But we kept on walking, stuck between the railways and the freeway.
Oh, plot twist—it’s not like you can go down on a beach and relax. The coast is rocky and dirty. The few beaches that look like beaches come with a warning—no apta para el baño. Like Mark says, “you just can’t swim in the ‘pathetic’ Ocean.”
At one point, we saw a footbridge to cross over the railways. But it came with a warning too—“dangerous, closed.”
We kept on going and reached the fancy Yacht club de Chile. Two big cars with rich looking guys who looked like they indeed owed a yacht exited the parking lot.
“¡Sin salida!” the gatekeeper warned us. “Are you going to Viña del Mar?”
“Then you have to take the footbridge.”
“The one with the sign that says ‘Dangerous, closed’?”
“Yes, that one. We all take it, there’s no other way to cross.”
So, we turned around and I climbed the dangerous, closed pathway to see if it was really dangerous and closed. It was both but I could go through a large enough hole in the door up there and this was good enough for me.
I came back to share the good news with the guys—we could totally climb the dangerous, closed pathway and a nice sidewalk would lead us to Viña del Mar.
Eventually, we made it to the Reloj de Flores in Viña del Mar and two Coke later, we decided to take the train back.
I mean, I think even I wouldn’t have walked both ways.