My first impression of Valparaiso was….”hmmm, looks a little gritty” but first impressions CAN be wrong.
We swept into Valparaiso via bus around 12:30. Both of us had slept well but had not eaten. Our bus in Argentina served food but we discovered this one did not. After being on the bus for 13 hours, we were quite hungry so grabbed some French fries at the bus station before taking a cab to our new home for the next two days, Suite Mirador (another AirBnB).
We were met by Nina, the owner (Oliver)’s ex-mother-in-law who lives here and runs the place. Such a sweet lady – first thing she did was to dig in the closet and pull out a nice cane for me to use. Much easier than my walking stick although not as cool. Then Kati, who works for them, helped Wes bring our luggage up 3 flights of stairs while I carefully climbed up behind them. It was slow but the stairs were wooden, wide, and had a beautiful strong bannister so I felt safe. And the climb was definitely worth it!
The pictures on AirBnB did not do this place justice. To the left of the stairs is a lovely veranda painted a sponged ocean blue. The ceiling is high and cone-shaped. All three sides have wooden shuttered windows that open out to provide a spectacular view of the bay and the surrounding hills – 42 in all! There is a round table in front of the main window where we will have breakfast tomorrow as well as a wicker loveseat to relax and enjoy the view. The bedroom is spacious and also has a nice balcony. Opening the door of the balcony and the windows on the veranda creates a wonderful breeze – nature’s air conditioning. This place is truly amazing!
After oohing and ahhing about our view, we were ready to explore. I was a bit wary as Valparaiso is a city of hills but I had my trusty cane on one arm and Wes on the other, so no worries. So first off we headed downhill to find one of the 8 funiculars or ascensors that still operate in the city. Our first one was the Artilleria, built in 1893 to help students get up to the Naval school. (Before riding down we stopped for empanadas at a colorful cafe which also served as an art studio for the owner who enjoyed showing us his paintings while we ate.). The Ascensor was definitely old and creaky. It was similar to a rail car and rode on very steep tracks at a snail’s pace. But it was fun.
There wasn’t much happening at the bottom of the hill which was Plaza Aduana and the old port so we walked to the next ascensor, the El Peral which was built in 1901 and rode to the top. We walked up and down stairs all around the area, thinking we might eat a real meal but there were only a few restaurants and they were all closed. So back down the hill we rode.
We hailed a taxi and asked him to take us to town centre. Finally, we found some action and several restaurants around Plaza Anibal Pinto. Cafe del Poeta seemed like a good place to sit outside and people watch (fast becoming my favorite past time). The food proved to be good as well – fresh salmon salad.
After dinner, we called it a day and taxied back to our casa on the hill. Before going to bed, we sat out on the veranda to peer over the colorful rooftops to the ocean and the surrounding hills. The twinkling lights strung across the hillsides reminded me of Christmas. In fact, I kinda have that feeling like I always have on Christmas Eve – anticipation – what will tomorrow bring??? Stay tuned and until then “Buenos Noches, mis amigos!”