Take a camera and watch your step in the port town of Valparaiso, Chile. Our first reaction to Valparaiso was really not that positive. We picked a hotel within our budget which happened to be on the flat part of town, in a not so tourist friendly area. The streets were filthy, littered and most noticeably, riddled with dog crap. As we played a human game of Frogger avoiding the land minds, we got the dog equivalent of a head nod from about 12 dogs every block. These dogs did not seem to have a home, but did not appear to be homeless. I know this makes no sense but it’s the only way to describe it. All the dogs seem to be in good health, they are definitely eating enough based on both their physique and their daily output onto the sidewalks. While healthy, they really don’t belong to the homes or shops they sunbathe in front of. I guess they have territories and the locals kind of have their own personal man’s best friend co-op based on location. Just a theory, but we’re sticking to it.
After further exploration of the town, we did find that Valpo is easily one of, if not the most photogenic of all the places we’ve visited so far. Although the doggy doo doo was a constant variable no matter where in town, we found two gems. Up the shoreline from downtown and on the top of the hill overlooking the port, are the neighborhoods of Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Alegro. In these neighborhoods you will find steep winding cobblestone streets with colorful hotels, art galleries, cafes, boutique stores and homes all with stunning views of the harbor. We spent quite a bit of time just strolling around the streets with cameras ready, taking coffee breaks and enjoying the views.
Many of the neighborhoods of Valparaiso can be quite a distance up the steep hills. No worries, you can take one of the many elevators. These are rickety diesel (once steam) operated contraptions that will hoist you and several others up the hillside with a cacophony of dodgy creaks, moans and cracks. We would classify this as the extreme activity option of Valpo.
All in all Valparaiso had both its highs and lows. I said I’d come back, Meggan is not so sure due to all the dog poo. We are glad we made the trip at least once. We would also like to give a huge thank you to two of the sweetest ladies that you’d ever meet who ran the hotel where we stayed. Although the location was not so great, they made it it a genuine pleasure to stay there. They spoke absolutely no English, so we were putting some miles on our translation book. We had many laughs trying to figure out what each other were trying to say. They gave us a heartfelt farewell that needed no translation. Meeting people like them are why we love to travel.