Thursday's Child: Valparaiso, Chile

Thursday, September 19, 2013

With all the travelling we’ve done, it’s surprising that I’ve been south of the equator only once, when we visited Chile.  We loved everything about this beautiful country, but one of the standouts was quirky Valparaiso – a city that's still rough around the edges, but with charm to spare.

Because the city's a bit of a labyrinth, we hired Thomas Poussard, a guide with a background in journalism, to show us around.  He shared both the beautiful and the unusual with us, and gave us a great overview of Valparaiso's history.

One of my favourite memories of Valparaiso was taking the ascenseurs, or funiculars, from one level to another.  Because the city is built into the hills that emerge from the ocean, most of the streets descend at a sharp angle.  The funiculars were built over a century ago, to facilitate getting around.  The oldest, serving Cerro Concepcion, was built in 1883.  

I wrote in an earlier post about the street art in Valparaiso.  Any city with an open-air museum of street art is one worth visiting.

Pablo Neruda spent much of his time in his home in Valparaiso.  La Sebastiana, as it was called, has astonishing views of the harbour. It displays the beautiful objects that he loved to collect, as well as his poetry.  La Sebastiana is rumoured to be the best place in Valparaiso to watch the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Valparaiso was a major international port until the Panama Canal was built in 1914, but it went into decline as shipping business began to move through the canal.  Recently, however, the city has made enormous strides.  It has rebuilt some of its former glories (renewing La Sebastiana after it was looted following the 1973 military coup), preserved existing ones (its funiculars being named to UNESCO’s World Heritage List), and launched new ones (the street art).

So small
Like a cloth
Ragged in a Window
In the Wind
of the ocean
With all the pain
Of your ground
The dew
Of the sea, the kiss
Of the wild angry sea
That with all of its power
Beat the rocks
It could not
Knock you down
Because on your southern chest
Is tattooed
The struggle
The hope
The solidarity
And the joy
As anchors
The waves of the earth."


We Are Not Martha said...

Beautiful photos! I've heard such great things about Chile and it looks like your visit was just lovely :)


Valerie Gamine said...

Love the photos, what gorgeous architecture! I've been in love with Valparaiso since hearing Sting's song several years ago. Definitely on my list. :D

CQUEK said...

Splendid place from the top view. I like the 1st picture.

Angie's Recipes said...

Beautiful photos of Valparaiso! Thanks for sharing, Beth.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Ha! I'm so shocked you've only been South once. I expect you to announce someday that you've been everywhere. Thanks for sharing the great pictures.

Beth said...

Sorry, Natalie. Not even close!

Jess said...

A lovely Neruda poem to finish this post! And you have far and away convinced me to always hire a guide~ you always seem to get the most intimate looks at the cities you visit :)

Bonnie said...

Lovely pictures! You can feel the charm. Thanks sharing your adventure!

Vi said...

I love that you guys have traveled so much, I really feel that it's so take in other cultures and experience life outside of our norm. I hope to visit half the places you all have! Chile looks very interesting, love the painted wall.

Anonymous said...

I think you described Chile perfectly--charming! I love, love, love the photo of the yellow house!

Gloria Baker said...

Well Beth you know Im chilean, but my favorite city is Valparaíso I love it we had there about 2 weeks ago and always is amazing, I love the food, the groceries, and the buildings and houses, lovely pictures!!

vanillasugarblog said...

It's always so interesting (and telling) how you think of one place as being a certain way, until you see photos of it and it's completely different.
I love to travel, but financially we are strapped for a bit, and I have a knee surgery coming. But after that surgery, you bet I'm grabbing my backpack and moving! LOL
Great photos!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, out of this world beautiful pictures - really enjoyed this wonderful post! And I really enjoy the poetry of Pablo Neruda too!

Barbara said...

Agree about hiring a guide. In some cities, it's the only way. And often, time is a factor as well. What an interesting city, Beth. That yellow house is in a precarious situation!

Kayte said...

The colors in the photos area all just so lovely...everything always looks like Sunshine x1 00!

Belinda said...

How beautiful - such understated elegance.

Unknown said...

Beth, what an interesting place, you've been on so many great adventures! What a lovely poem too!

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