Valpo or Valpooh?

25 May

It has to be said, the port city of Valparaiso (known by locals as Valpo) has a stray dog problem. It’s not the dogs’ fault it’s the fault of those humans who condemn their former four-legged friends to a life of begging for food, shitting and pissing on the street.

And these are generally big, big dogs. Takes a lot of dodgy and weaving on footpaths to avoid their mess. Shades of Seville but worse.

Tourists are attracted to Valparaiso because of its edgy, arty, boho, ruined beauty vibe. And yes, beauty exists amongst the rubbish, the decaying roads, hustling street vendors and ramshackle buildings.

Varied street art, bright painted wooden houses, kaleidoscopic stairs, views over the harbour, Valparaiso continues to surprise and delight. Even the earthquake of 2010 and the recent wildfires haven’t shaken Valparaisians. Like a taxi driver we were talking to said, ‘In Valparaiso we don’t have money but we work hard and play hard’.

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We stayed on Cerro Alegre in a street under repair. This suited us as we could park our rental car outside Puerta Escondida B&B safe in the knowledge no cars and few people would be passing by.

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Despite the dog doo Valpo is a city for walking and, as in Genoa, for taking the ‘ascensors’ up and down from sea level to the hills.

20140524-222804-80884758.jpgOur walk took us past murals and mosaic art to La Sebastiana, the Valparaiso second home of Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, now a museum. Here is Neruda on renovating his house with secondhand materials:

‘Come to me abandoned doors, I’ll give you a house and a wall and a fist to to knock on you. You will swing again as the soul opens, you will guard the sleep of Matilde with your wings that worked so much.’

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La Sebastiana

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Neruda’s writing room at the very top of this eyrie with glass on three sides is an ideal place to compose and reflect.

20140524-223245-81165750.jpgTo be honest besides walking, eating, and drinking well (two bottles of wine from our Colchagua tastings) and reading we did nothing else in Valparaiso this weekend.

20140524-223341-81221188.jpgDinner at Fauna with its glittering views of the city, lunch at family run bistrot, Le Filue de Montpellier, tea and conversation with an Aussie exchange student at Le Pendiente by the bottom of La Reina Victoria ascensor, and a two part dinner of sushi then pizza around the corner from our BnB were all excellent and good value.

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Fauna

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20140524-223723-81443333.jpgWe weren’t even energetic enough to venture to Viña del Mar just a kilometre along the coast.

Perhaps next time!

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