Valparaiso, Chile


A Unesco, World Heritage site the city of Valparaiso is nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Once a busy commercial center and port of call for cargo ships arriving from the rest of the world, Valparaiso's economy took a tumble after the opening of the Panama Canal created a new route for ships to travel to the Pacific. Now, it is a city on a resurgence with an active arts, food and cultural scene.
Street Art
If you are planning on  touring Valparaiso on your own, by foot - get a tourist map and pocket-change. You will need to get on an "Ascensor". Believe me when I tell you this.
Valparaiso is built on a hill. A steep hill.  "Ascensors" are manually-driven elevators that take people up and down hills. There are 22 of them scattered all over Valparaiso and their locations are easily found on any tourist map. Also, choose a round-trip fare. If you don't use it , you might be out 25 cents.

Also.. there is a light rail metro that runs east/west along the coast - it's limited in distance but better than nothing.

We arrived by cruise ship and found taxi's to be OK - they are metered and will give you an approximate estimate to your destination upon asking "Cuanto cuesto...?" 

1000 Chilean Peso's = about $1.50 US

Speaking of money - Valparaiso is poor. Really poor. That being said, we were surprised by the noticeable lack of street beggars. Being warned by locals - repeatedly - to beware of pick pockets and robbers, our index of suspicion was at an all time high but our anxieties were soothed somewhat when we were assured that "they won't have guns". Money was securely tucked away into my (ahem) bosom and Mr. Something was in charge of picture-taking - while I stood 'on lookout'. We were fine - and probably just paranoid. 
Chilean Vineyards
Leaving Valparaiso for Santiago, The Pullman bus fare from Estacion Rodovario was 6,500 pesos each (about $10 US) - not bad for an 80 mile trip!

Our overall take on Valparaiso? It's a beautiful, rustic and interesting city, where the food was good, the wine was plentiful and the views, unforgettable.

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