Valparaiso lies on the Pacific Coast about 110 kilometers north-west of Santiago. Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaíso was declared a world heritage site in 2003 based upon its improvised urban design and unique architecture. The city is built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, boasting a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways and embodying a rich architectural and cultural legacy.
To not miss out on this jewel and enjoy the wonderful city we booked a day trip to Valparaiso.
We left sunny and warm Santiago in the early morning and arrived in cloud-covered, rainy and chilly Valparaiso after an one and a half hour bus ride. Not the best start to explore a new city…
Thinking that a city tours by bus would give us a good overview we joined a bus tour that should take 5 hours including a lunch break. This way, we were thinking, we could use the afternoon to explore the nicest parts of the city on our own.
The first station we visited was the port:
Here we had some time to walk around and watch some seals who live on a former bridge pier:
After that we continued to the Plaza Sotomayor with the famous Monument of the Heroes of Iquique (in remembrance of the confrontation that occurred in May 1879 during the “War of the Pacific”, a conflict between Chile, Peru and Bolivia):
On the other side of the Plaza Sotomayor the impressive headquarters of the Chilean Navy can be found:
We continued up on one of the hillsides and visited a very colorful neighborhood:
Next stop was at La Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso. Pablo Neruda, known as a famous Chilean poet, diplomat and politician was also one of the most renowned inhabitants of Valparaiso, especially after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Even today, 40 years after his death, all of Valparaiso adores Pablo Neruda and whoever visits Valparaiso is bound to visit Pablo Neruda’s house as well:
Apart from the interesting architecture of his house Pablo Neruda is recorded to have spent a lot of time enjoying the great view over the hills and the harbor of Valparaiso:
Interestingly he often wrote in green ink, which was his personal symbol for desire and hope.
Up to this point the city tour had been interesting, although the bus driver and the tour guide left us with a weird impression. The guide would only speak Spanish and the driver would translated most of the guides information into English. Besides that the driver told us, that he could also speak German, as he had visited a German school for some years. This ended up in him speaking to us in English and every once in a while throwing some supposedly German words at us…
The next stop on our tour led us to Vina del Mar, which is a neighboring city to Valparaiso and famous for its white sandy beaches along the Pacific coast. But the main attraction we were presented, was this *amazing* flower-clock. We spent about half an hour at this “sight”:
Next stop was the beach promenade where we had our one hour lunch break (by now it was already 2.00 in the afternoon!). We enjoyed our home-made sandwiches at the beach and sucked up the atmosphere and ocean smell:
We and the other tour guests were punctually back at the bus, waiting for the tour to take us back to Valparaiso and finish. But the guide and the driver were still missing and arrived about half an hour late… After that delay the bus moved on, but stopped after five minutes at another beach. The guide told the people that we would make a 30 minute break to take a walk after having lunch. Everybody in the bus refused another break and just wanted to continue the tour.
The next stop was at a park with an *very famous* music festival during some days in summer. “Can you imagine, even Elton John was there…” The guide told us about five times. In the park some people got lost and it took some time untill everybody was back in the bus again and we could continue to the next attraction…
This was a little museum with one of the few original moai statues from Easter Island in front of it. Luckily this was the last stop on our never-ending city tour, which at this point had already lasted for about seven hours! We surely got a lot of tour-time for your money on this tour, but would have preferred quality instead of quantity…
After more delays we finally returned to the starting point of our trip. By now we were not only tired but even started to get annoyed of Valparaiso and were glad to take the next available bus back to Santiago.
Unfortunately that day Valparaiso couldn’t fascinate us and we were happy when we got back to Santiago 🙂
After this exhaustive day we packed our things and had a last dinner with one of the tasty Emiliana wines.
The next day we hurried to the airport and took off to a place we had been very excited to visit for a very long time: Easter Island.