We took the 1.5 hour journey from Santiago to Valparaíso with TurBus for 3,600 CP (prices fluctuate and vary widely depending on the time of day). Tip! If you look at the TurBus website or the booth at the bus terminal (across from the ticket desks) in Santiago you can check out the best deals before you buy. Valparaiso’s bus terminal isn’t really walking distance from the main tourist area so we got a taxi outside the door. This cost 4,800 CP (about $10) which was a rookie mistake on our part. The city’s mini-buses take 10 minutes and cost 490 CP (about $1) haha!! We had booked accommodation on AirBnB though so really just wanted to get there without dragging our bags everywhere. Also, we had just done a food shop and picked up a cooler bag so I was literally weighed down with fruit and veg. Our accommodation was called Casa Elias, situated at the foot of an ascensor or funicular built in 1902 called Ascensor Reina Victoria. Just a side note: AirBnB is a little different in South America in that there are hostels all over bloody thing – it’s really annoying when you’re searching as they’re clogging up all the site! Anyway, our accommodation turned out to be lovely (even though it turned out to be a college house share), we had a balcony overlooking the ascensor but there was a bar downstairs meaning that no sleep was had until after 2am…until 6am when a group of homeless people congregated on the street below. Still, it was nice!
Valparaíso is a city you’ll either love or hate. Lots of people from Santiago don’t like it at all. It’s definitely different to Santiago’s clean, well-maintained and manicured streets. It’s a port city so there’s a lot of industrial activity, an inordinate number of dogs, and a serious whiff of urine in all crevices of the city. On the other hand, at the top of the ascensors lie numerous cerros or hills dotted with colourful mansions and plentiful cafés…and more dogs thrown in for good measure. At the top of our ascensor (cost was 100 CP for each use) was a little slide down a few feet which was so cool! There’s a definite vibe of San Francisco here; we really enjoyed our time in Valparaíso, as you’ll see from the billions of pictures I have to share with you!
We spent 3 days just wandering around taking hundreds of photos of the amazing graffiti that bombards you at every corner. Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion were our favourite hills for meandering, stopping at cafés and just taking in the view. We found the tastiest chocolate muffins at a cute little tea shop, Mercadito Alegre on Cerro Alegre. There are probably a hundred spots you could drop in for a coffee and cake here. Lovely place for a meander.
Down in Sotomayor Plaza lies the Armada de Chile, Chile’s naval headquarters, a short walk from the pier. There’s a teensy shopping centre down here with a pretty good supermarket, randomly selling Waitrose products! We found an Australian café, the Melbourne Café on Sotomayor Plaza too where John had his first cup of good coffee in a while and I got an awesome chai latte, I cannot stress how good it was – they pretty much just give you milky chai tea elsewhere 🙂 It’s funny but we’re both finding that we’re appreciating the little things a lot more, a nice cup of tea, a hot shower, a comfy pillow.
A walk down along the port brings you to another ascensor, Ascensor Artillería (300CP), which is over a century old and provides lovely city views from the top. These funiculars used to be painted up but unfortunately that’s no longer the case. I was really looking forward to checking them out as I had read a great post at Rhea Collections.
The area around Ascensor Polanco out beyond the bus station isn’t the prettiest but there are a few streets filled with graffiti worth checking out if you’re in the area or have some time to kill whilst waiting for a bus. The ascensors is one of the coolest ones and goes underground but sadly it was closed on our visit. It being the afternoon and all…
Viña del Mar
We took a trip to Viña del Mar, the beach area about 15 minutes up the coast from Valparaiso (490 CP for the bus which we got from Plaza Cummings but the buses are everywhere). We didn’t really get the draw of Viña del Mar so only spent a couple of hours by the beach.
We took the bus back from Valparaiso to Santiago for 3,900 CP.
Next stop: Bariloche, Argentina (back to Mendoza via Santiago first)