Valparaiso is a colourful city laying on 43 hills. As you can imagine, its visiting requires quite a stamina.
We hired a car for a day in Santiago to visit Valparaiso and neighbouring Viña del Mar. Also, we stopped by at the Casablanca wineries.
After entering Valparaiso, I felt as if the time had stopped. An old, green trolleybus was standing on the main street between the stalls in the local market on a Saturday morning. We were welcomed by chaos, heat and humidity. Also, the hills attracted our attention. They were all covered with colourful houses. It means that those living there must be very fit 😉
The GPS in our car was not able to recognise the addresses I was introducing. I’m not a good co-pilot. So if I only have a tourist map in my hand, it is better not to count on me. We got lost somewhere behind the central part of Valparaíso. However thanks to that we saw odd places that not every tourist sees.
The back sides of the houses there were fixed to the hill, while the rest of the house was standing on stilts. As there are many earthquakes in Chile, how do these buildings stay still in case of an earthquake? Maybe this is the key to success?
Once we realised that the places might not be very safe, we returned to the main street and then to the city centre. To visit the first tourist attraction we had to climb one of the 43 hills. My husband said that he would not be climbing hills in this heat. So what we did was going up there in the car. On the way up the tires were squealing and the engine was making strange noises. At times I thought that the car would not make it. I thought it would refuse to go further up. Luckily the car did a great job and took us atop of the hill. Few times I stopped breathing, and I had to close my eyes as the way up was very steep. And going down was even worst.
It was truly one of the hardest places to go by car. To the other attractions, we got without any problems. There are Free Walking Tours organised in Valparaiso but having seen that most of the tourist attraction are on different hills, I do admire those who did them all, especially in one day. The good thing about the walking tours on the hills of Valparaiso is an excellent exercise before the hikes in the National Park of Torres del Paine.
Valparaiso is a bohemian, port city and the second largest city in Chile with 300.000 inhabitants. You can meet any artists painting their painting on the streets. Some love Valparaiso and others, like us, want to leave straight away after seeing the main attractions. I must admit that the heat was not bearable. The neigbouring Viña del Mar is much more quiet and relaxing. There are many modern hotels with pools and beaches. You can also have a walk along the seaside watching sea lions and birds.
If I had to describe Valparaiso in one word it would be ‘’interesting’’. In two words ‘’interesting and chaotic’’. In three words: interesting, chaotic and colourful.