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The Fab Five February 22, 2010

Posted by Jen Pappas in Top 5.
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We’ve been back in the United States just over four weeks now, and rare is the day that goes by without some sort of reference to the time we spent in Latin America. Luckily, this blog is a useful place to return to each time we start to murmur, “Remember when…?” We’ll continue to update this blog whenever we get the opportunity to travel, which judging from our bank accounts, won’t be for a awhile.

Until then, we give you a list of our top five destinations from the six months we spent in Central and South America. Big, rural, majestic, gritty… These are places that caught our attention, prolonged our stay and kept us wishing for a teleportation device.

We'd like to award an honorable mention to the city of Mendoza, Argentina. Although it didn't make our list, it was awful close and we'd return to wine country in a heartbeat. They also had the best looking girls there, but that really only benefits Steve.

3. Valparaiso, Chile February 22, 2010

Posted by Jen Pappas in Top 5, Valparaiso.
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South America’s old-school, street-art filled version of San Francisco, Valparaiso has a gritty, port-city charm that’s difficult to describe. Suffice it to say the pastel-covered homes, relentless art and ragged hills overlooking the sea were more than enough to capture our imaginations. 

The Painted Face of Valparaiso October 29, 2009

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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. 

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            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.

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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.

The Daring Young Man October 29, 2009

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He flies through the air with the greatest of ease...

October 29, 2009

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The daring young man on the flying trapeze.

Ascensor October 29, 2009

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Another one of Valparaiso´s famous ascensors. This one dated back to the late 1880s.

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Exterior shot of our hostel, Casa Verde Limon. -Valparaiso, Chile

Harbor Shots October 29, 2009

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Navy ship in the Valparaiso harbor.

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Steve actually took this photo from an overlook we could only reach by ascensor. -Valparaiso, Chile

Harbor Cruise October 29, 2009

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Perhaps Chileans don´t make the best swimmers? Everyone on board the harbor tour was handed one of these lovely life vests to wear. -Valparaiso, Chile

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The noble vessel. -Valparaiso, Chile

Valpo and the Penguin October 29, 2009

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A nice overview of Valparaiso with the Pacific in the background.

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We weren´t the only ones surprised to see a wild penguin hanging out in the harbor. -Valparaiso, Chile

Pops of Color, Ancient Elevator October 29, 2009

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This fuchsia house was so bright, we were able to pick it out from our boat during the harbor tour.

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An ascensor on its way uphill. -Valparaiso, Chile