My first trip to Chile was in 2019, when I explored from Cochran in North Patagonia up to Santiago. Now I’m finally back, to explore another section of this oddly shaped country. (From north to south, Chile extends 4,270 km, 2,653 mi, yet is only 350 km, 217 mi at its widest point, and averages just 177 km, 110 mi east to west.) This time I’m planning to go north from Santiago (near the middle) and my first stop is in historic Valparaiso.
I had a truly rough time getting to this, my first destination, due to the domino effect of a 4-hour delay of my first flight from Oaxaca to Mexico City. You will be spared the details, but I missed two flights and arrived a day late, and the culprit was the airlines, AEROMEXICO. Be warned!
I chose to stay in Valparaiso’s Historic Center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2003) to explore the two cities: the lower town full of official government buildings and banks, and the upper town of steep hills, reached by 140-year-old 10-person elevators. Up on the hills are historic houses and other lavish buildings from Valparaiso’s heyday as a major port—before the Panama Canal was built in 1914. The Museum of Fine Arts is in a former palace; the Museum of Engravings is in a stately home. The hills are truly interesting and beautiful, though some parts are very rundown, filthy, and dangerous.
The first day I walked along the coast for the entire day. With my binoculars I spied flocks of terns, cormorants, and pelicans, as well as a little sea otter. There was edible tubular kelp called “cochayuyo,” which I ate in Castro, on the island of Chiloe on my first trip to Chile. There were two lighthouses, native cacti and succulents on the hillsides, and even a very long public beach. There was celebration in the air, as January 2nd is also a holiday in Chile. By the time I was ready for lunch, the restaurants were all out of the standard fish, so I had eel! It arrived fried, and quite delicious.
The second day I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, which is in the art nouveau/deco Palacio Baburizza. They have a collection European art, as well as the Valparaiso art for which I was searching. (See photos) And then to the Natural History Museum for descriptions of flora and fauna of here, Central Chile.
The third day I visited the Valparaiso Museum of Engraving, which displayed great artistry and variety of techniques. But because of a blooming cold, I rested most of the rest of the day, and felt better on my last morning.
The prices here are much more than those of Mexico, so I’ve felt some shock. But how pleasant to see cats minding many businesses along the main streets, and a few nice places to drink coffee and study Spanish in the late afternoon. It’s not difficult to be a short-term resident.
And here, as usual, is a link for further information about the city:
Please enjoy the pictures.Read more