Valparaíso is a city you either love or hate.
It is steep, and thus has a lot of run down escalators, stairs and buildings stacking on top of each other so far your eyes reach. It has a lot of vibrant street art. It has colorful houses which were painted in different colors because of the spare paint of the ships in the port. It has a huge port which is still buzzing, although the importance of the sea route diminished a long time ago after the Panama Canal was built. It stinks of cat piss, rotten fish and is dirty as hell. It attracts artists through its distinct charm, Pablo Neruda being one of the most important former residents. It is pretty laid-back. It emits an atmosphere of "everything is possible".
Some say it is the degenerated brother of Viña del Mar, and that may be true, because Viña del Mar is everything what Valparaíso is not, and Valparaíso doesn't give a shit about it, but still the two cities are in a constant contest. As said before, you either love Valparaíso, or you don't. Just like you prefer either the city of Valparaíso or Viña del Mar.
Here are the facts: Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometers from Santiago at the Pacific coast spanning over several hillsides overlooking the sea. It is the seat of the Chilean National Congress. About 300.000 people live in the city and about one million in the agglomeration. The inner city and the port are protected by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. If you are interested get all the remaining facts from Wikipedia.
And here are my TOP 5 spots/things in/about Valparaíso and some of the photos I took:
- The steepness - The whole city features a lot of escalators and stairs in order to overcome the altitude difference between sea level and the different parts of the city. This and the stacked buildings provide for a dramatic backdrop for photos.
- The hostel - Located on the Cerro Playa Ancha in a very non-touristic part of the city the Costa Azul B&B provides fascinating views over whole Valpo, how the residents call their city, and as far as Viña del Mar.
- The port - The Valparaíso port emits a buzzing atmosphere which is infectious just by watching ships load and unload and tourists boarding small boats for tours along the coast.
- The downhill competition - The Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo transformes the whole Cerro Alegre into a race track for a mountainbike downhill competition - what a spectacle!
- The ocean - With Valpo being built on various hillsides it is possible to catch stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from almost any part of the city.