Tour boats waiting for tourists, Valparaiso harbour
Left out yesterday, because really didn´t do anything except wander around the town in the sunshine - very pleasant, but not riveting reading!!
Had a pretty long day today, got up early to get the bus to Valparaiso, which is on the coast and very scenic. Arrived at about 10.30am after a 1 1/2 hour journey and walked down the main road to the Plaza Victoria. We then turned toward the ocean and walked down to the docks, and along to the tourist area from there. We wanted to do a harbour cruise, but no groups were going so the boats wanted to charge us CP$10,000 for a private tour. When we said that was too much for us, they suddenly dropped to CP$6000 - amazing what the end of season can bring! It would have been CP$1000 each anyway, so we could stretch to this.
Sea lion basking on a ship, Valaraiso Harbour
Mind you, the boat people were being very careful to ensure that no groups could form, they accosted you as soon as you looked at the ocean, and made sure anyone who could possibly get together was kept well apart and herded to a different boat. The boat took us out through the big ships and back along past the Navy dock (photos strictly prohibited). We saw a big old sea lion lazing on the bulbous wave breaker part of a ship, soaking up the sunshine. There was a Navy helicopter taking off and landing then doing circuits of the harbour, again and again - must have been practising, but they would have had a nice view of the city.
We then followed the walking tour from the Lonely Planet, so walked through the Plaza Sotomayer with its Monument to the Heroes of Iquique towards the Ascensor Cordillera, the oldest funicular in Valparaiso, from 1887.
Container port, Valparaiso Harbour
These are dotted all over the city to get you up and down the steepest parts. They´re not cheap though, so most people seem to just walk (which we did most of the time). We were taken up to the square near SEa Lord Cochrane´s house. He was the English lord who built the Chilean navy, and his house is open to the public. Great views from here, but nothing inside, just empty rooms with no explanation, so hope they do something about that in the future. Walked back down past the Iglesia La Matriz - the current church dates from 1837 but churches have been on this site since the 1500´s. Next port of call was the Mercado Puerto, which has fruit, vegetables and seafood. It is a glorious old building, the centre of which is a massive spiral staircase with the shops built into the walls behind it as it ascends.
Plaza Sotomayer, Valparaiso, with Monument to the Heroes of Iquique (one of the battles from the war against Peru/Bolivia)
Unfortunately it is now pretty derelict, but would definitely be one for the council to restore as a showcase.
From here we walked back through the Plaza Sotomayer, past the huge art deco courthouse and up the steep steps to the Paseo Yugoslavo, with its lovely old mansions. Unfortunately the Palacio Baburizza, which houses a fine arts museum, is closed for restoration, so didn´t see much of that. After traipsing up and down a few more steep staircases, we arrived in Cerro Concepcion, where there are lots of examples of the multi-storey, corrugated iron houses that abound in Valpo. Many have been restored here and now house restaurants, cafes and art galleries. We walked along Paseo Beethoven, in the shadow of the big Lutheran Church from 1897, and then began the steep walk up to Pablo Neruda´s house, La Sebastiana.
Ascenor Cordillera, Valparaiso
Neruda was a Chilean diplomat and writer, and one the Nobel Prize for Poetry. His house is on many levels, and is full of his eclectic collection of anything he could get his hands on! The views are magnificent, and the property has been very well restored and presented by the Neruda Foundation. Certainly worth a visit. Walked back down the hill through the OPen Air Museum area, basically a residential zone where artists have painted murals on the walls. Some are quite good, but most are not that impressive, but we guess it´s probably down to personal taste! Kept to our normal routine and had an ice-cream (hard to believe, we know!) then caught the bus home. It was now about 6pm and the buses were very busy with people returning to Santiago
for the weekend. Saw on the news tonight that there were major student riots in Santiago today, with over 300 people arrested, but we missed them.