I've been wanting to start a regular Travel Tuesday post for a while, but it's taken me some time to get it going. Real life has finally started slowing down and I have a little more time to devote to the blog, so I thought I'd kick my travel posts off with a bang. Valparaiso was hands down my favorite destination in Chile. Although it doesn't hold a candle to Patagonia in terms of sheer, jaw-dropping beauty, it has an energy that I don't think can be replicated. Due in large part to the amazing street art that led to UNESCO designating it a World Heritage Site in 2003, the entire city just seemed like the perfect environment to inspire creativity.
The city is built on a series of hills, and most of them are so steep that you have to take an ascensor, or cable car-style elevator, to reach the top of them. You can reach the one we took through the tiny purple building at the end of the alley.
It was filled with small shops and art galleries. I bought more souvenirs here than I did anywhere else in Chile! Sadly, my one attempt to haggle was met with complete and utter disdain by the seller. Maybe one day I'll develop a poker face.
Just in case you didn't think Valparaiso was perfect enough, it is literally full of dogs. Stray dogs roam the streets in greater numbers than in any other city I've been to before. I was strongly cautioned against petting them (boo) but I still managed to befriend one even without deploying my signature Puppy Ear Wiggle move. Luckily, he only followed us until a kindly hostel owner put out bowls of food and water for him. I was worrying over his fate! If you, too, were highly influenced by watching Homeward Bound as a child, I strongly recommend you carry a bag of dog treats during your visit.
I can't end this post without mentioning the food. No place in Chile is very far from the sea, but since Valparaiso is right by the beach the seafood was fresh, plentiful, and delicious. There were restaurants, hostels, and sidewalk cafes pretty much everywhere we looked and they all advertised different lunch specials. We ended up at the darling Cafe del Pintor, which was covered in murals and offered a white fish called reineta that I'd never heard of but turned out to be fantastic.
Everything was so vibrant and beautiful. Because it's a thriving port and houses Chile's Congress in addition to being a tourist destination, Valparaiso seemed to constantly thrum with activity. I had a wonderful time there and I hope I go back one day!
Have you been to Valparaiso? Or are you planning a trip there? And what kind of Travel Tuesday posts would you like to see on Thirteen Octobers?