Valparaiso, Chile: Bring your camera and watch your step

Valparaiso wall mural and colorful buildings

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.Classic Valparaiso Buildings

A view of Valparaiso Valparaiso doorway 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. Valparaiso streetside Valparaiso street view of the ocean

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. Elevator near our hotel in Valparaiso

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.

Valparaiso wall mural via Valparaiso coffee breakV<br /> iew of the port from ValparaisoEvening Cerro Conceptcion. Valparaiso, Chile.




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13 Responses to Valparaiso, Chile: Bring your camera and watch your step

  1. Adam says:

    Hey guys. More great work! A bit of unsolicited photogs advice: You’re on a once in a lifetime trip… open up your lens to the smallest f stop. Find your subject and snap away. For these kind of photos you want to separate background from subject. Creates mystery in the background and complexity in the photo. Gives something for the eye to find (in focus, foreground) and the wonder what’s going on back there (out of focus, background).
    If you’re shooting a landscape think about foreground, middle, and background … there should be interesting features throughout the depth of the photo. Use a large f stop for these, 8 – 13.
    Consider buying a super high end lens. The smaller the smallest f stop the better. 2.8 is great, believe it’s worth it.
    You guys have a great eye for photos – a little more technical savvy and these will pop off the monitor and say … WOW!

  2. Thanks Adam! This is really great advice. We definitely have a lot to learn with photography. We’ve been definitely been exploring the depth of field aspect of photography, but have not always seized the opportunities when available. We have really liked our macro lens for the small f stops, as well as our telephoto lens. These have been great for portraits and food photos. Our wide angle lens is really good for the higher f stops. I think we have the equipment we need, we just need to get better at using it!! Photography has been one of the most enjoyable learning experiences of our trip, it is really turning into a passion of ours. Please keep the advice coming, thanks again!!

  3. Kelly Anne says:

    In terms of the dogs–this is based on the experience I had in rural Mexico. We found that although families cared for dogs, they were not pets. They tended to run in packs (as they should), but were expected to guard the home of the people who fed them. They certainly added a new dimension to our stay there when a female went into heat and the place turned into CRAZYTOWN. Thanks so much for sharing your journey!

  4. Tree says:

    F yeah! Did the dog poo remind you of your back yard? When’s your next vid coming out??

  5. valpariaso is a great place. i especially loved the air trams. i don’t know if you’ve ever read any of isabella allende books. she’s my outmost favorite author ever! However, once you read her books chile simply comes alive with her descriptions, plus you’re there to enjoy them!
    The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

  6. Catherine says:

    I love the mural shot of the woman’s face! Incredible! You guys take amazing pictures!
    I met Isabel Allende at a book signing luncheon last year! She was a pretty cool lady. She was born in Peru, but I think she’s of Chilean decent. She lives here in the Bay Area now :0)

  7. That’s funny, thanks for the comment Kelly.

  8. I’m working on the next video, hopefully it’ll be done soon and we can find a fast enough connection to upload. How’d you like the first part?

  9. Thanks for your kind words Catherine. We will try to check out Isabel Allende, sounds interesting.

  10. Thanks for your continued comments Marina. We’ll have to check out Isabella Allende for sure.

  11. Hi.. i from Valparaiso.. and i love this city.. it’s so magical..!! the people, the smell, colors, sounds, everything .. I love what you wrote and your photos are great ..

  12. Gabriela says:

    Hello! I am moving to Valparaiso this March and cannot wait. Thanks for posting the photos and your experiences!

  13. Fabio says:

    Hi, I have lived two months in Valparaiso at the beginning of 2011 and I remember reading this blog entry before going… I stumbled upon this again once back and I went through it with a more aware view, it really is a nice one! I am going to link it in my blog! 🙂