Not originally on our radar when we planned this trip, Valparaíso (Valpo for short), and its hills of colorful homes, has definitely been a highlight of our visit to S America.
Located just two hours from Chile, this city of a few hundred thousand sits on the Pacific Coast, and was once one of the most important port towns in South America until the Panama Canal opened. While still having an interesting and busy port life, its charm is the numerous hills just beyond the coast full of homes painted one bright color or another.
After arriving by night bus from Mendoza early in the morning, having to wake up at 2 am for immigration and Chilean customs which took forever, our hostel provided us a temporary place to crash for the morning until our room was ready. That was so nice!
We met up with Justin for lunch that afternoon, a friend from back home in Chicago who was studying abroad in Valpo at the time. Definitely nice for Tim and I to hang out with a familiar face!
Justin led us to the port and main town square, and Tim and I subsequently took an ¨ascensor¨ or slanted elevator tram 30 seconds up to the top of the hills. The views of the port and surrounding hills were spectacular! The hills themselves offered great pieces of architecture, viewpoints, and cool twisty streets. We repeated this trip up different hills later that afternoon and the next morning.
Our second day in the region, we prayed for a continuance of the sun and warmth and headed on a minibus 20 minutes next door to Viña Mar´s beaches. This suburb is famous for its beach resorts and is a draw all summer for Chileans and foreigners alike. Tim and I made our way to one of its main beaches and enjoyed some brief sunshine amidst the clouds. The waters were quite cold, reminding us of the Baltic coast in northern Poland just a few months previous. Though it was nice to get back onto a beach for some R&R after so long away!
That evening, we took a bus a few hours to Santiago to explore the capital, largest city, and cultural hub of Chile.