Monday, 18 May 2015

Vibrant Valpairiso

Two hours west of Santiago you find the twisting alleys, creaking funicular, towering town houses and multi-coloured, muralled walls of Valparaiso. The town clings to the hillside surrounding the deep natural harbour that plays home to the Chilean navy. The old town is packed with beautiful grand Spanish colonial buildings, imposing as they tower over the shabby squares and busy streets.

The best way to enjoy Valparaiso is to duck into one of it's many twisting passages, follow their convoluted course up stairs, under archways, through alleys and begin your exploration. Everywhere you turn bright murals gaze back at you, some comical, others historical and others just downright bizarre.

We were based near the old port, half way up the steep slopes above the harbour, surrounded by huge town houses in various states of dilapidation. Two doors down was The Brecon, the only Welsh pub in South America (so the patron claimed)! William had been in the Chilean Army and was stationed in South Wales on two occasions, falling in love with the place and it's people. He produced great craft beer and a mean burger to go with it.

The neighbouring town of Vina del Mar is a sharp contrast, with its neat grid system, graffiti absent buildings and pedestrianised shopping streets lacked the charm of its older, chaotic rival. However, its museum does have one of the original Easter Island heads set in its gardens so we toddled over for a glimpse. We both agreed it was a lot shorter than we expected, maybe they only brought over a small one!

What an angel!

Amazing murals and graffiti adorn the streets

The poet, diplomate and politician Pablo Neruda lived for a time in Valpairiso, his house is now a museum dedicated to his poetry and there's multiple images of him around the city

The chaotic jumble of Valpairiso sprawl from the port up the steep slopes that surround the natural harbour

Murals are everywhere, some are huge!

The traditional buildings keep pace with the graffiti, showing off their own vibrant colours

There have been up to 26 working funicular railways in the town, the earliest dating from the 1880s

There is a significant naval presence here

The rivers are pretty dry this time of year - a handy overflow car park (no pun intended)

We might not make it to Easter Island but at least we've met this guy!

Look familiar?