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The Painted Face of Valparaiso October 29, 2009

Posted by Jen Pappas in Valparaiso text.
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Valparaiso is a city that knows itself quite well. Long deemed the cultural center of Chile, the city was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003. Bright, crumbling homes are scattered haphazardly across hillsides overlooking the Pacific. Ancient ascensors (funicular elevators) clamber up the steepness, full of secrets dating back to 1883 and 1917. Virtually every surface- stairwells, sidewalks and concrete walls are littered with graffiti, stencils and street art. Bohemians, poets and misfits flock to Valparaiso not only for its creative spirit and artistic freedom but for its natural beauty and historic filth. 


            Somewhat of a cross between San Francisco and turn-of-the-century Paris, Valparaiso has plenty to offer in the way of visual stimulus. The hostel we stayed in was a perfect example. The house was built in 1925 and only recently renovated and re-designed by a Chilean artist. There was in fact a real trapeze hanging from the high rafters near the breakfast table. Steve managed to hoist himself up not once, but twice, graciously posing for other backpackers who wanted photographic proof for their friends and family back home.

            We spent the majority of our time in Valparaiso roaming the streets, befriending bar owners, touring the home of Chile’s most prized poet, (Pablo Neruda), soaking up street art, bumming around cafes and hiking up hills. We also took a cheap harbor cruise, found real tofu and over-tipped a Chilean lounge singer at Cinzano, a local haunt that’s been around since 1896.


The fine lady who introduced Steve to his new favorite drink, Cola de Mono (Tail of the Monkey). -Valparaiso, Chile

            I think the photos speak for themselves.