Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Murals of Valparaiso

Valparaiso is magical. There is a narrow strip of level land, 'El Plan', adjacent to the ocean. Seething with humanity it leaves you gasping for air. Tourists, touts, beggars, pick-pockets, thieves, buskers, cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles all jostle for space. Magnificent colonial buildings and grotesque modern sky-scrapers stand edge to edge, equally desecrated by graffiti and neglect.

Rising above El Plan are the 'cerros'. More than forty hills tumbling into one another creating a honeycomb labyrinth whose inhabitants cling precipitously to the steeply rising landscape. By day on the cerros, the city is quiet. Tourists wander the maze-like streets. A few shops and small restaurants take advantage of the spectacular views, but mostly the locals are down in El Plan. They work near the sea and return to the cerros at the end of the day.

Valparaiso is dotted with funicular railways, 'Ascensors', built before the advent of the motor car to carry the returning inhabitants up to their hill-side dwellings. Many are now in disrepair but enough are still functioning to make trips up and down to El Plan easier than climbing the hundreds of stairs or steeply rising alleys. Although the cerros interlock it is difficult to cross from one to another without descending to El Plan and climbing up again.

We are staying at Cerro Allegre. The windows of our room look out across the city toward the harbour. From here Valparaiso looks almost ordered. Our room is small and neat with beautiful views of the city. Cerro Allegre and it's neighbour, Cerro Conception, are slightly bohemian, dotted with craft shops, hole in the wall art galleries, cafes and intimate little restaurants. We wander the cerros by day and explore the restaurants by night.

The cerros are a jumble of colours. The houses are faced with brightly painted corrugated iron. The variety of colours and styles give the hills a character all of their own. On Cerro Conception we explore the 'Open Air Museum', a neighbourhood of streets centred around the Hostel Bellavista painted with dozens of brightly coloured murals. The museum has no entrance, no exit and no walls. It is a place to wander and discover the vibrant paintings of passionate street artists.

For all my posts on Chile click - here

For a review of the hotel we stayed in in Valparaiso - click here

Living on the Cerros


Jostling for space in 'El Plan'.


Colonial grandeur in 'El Plan'


Taking a funicular

Murals of Valparaiso

Murals of Valparaiso

Murals of Valparaiso

Murals of Valparaiso

5 comments:

  1. try Cafe Turri in Valpo! the tuna sashimi is incredible! and i have those same stairs captured but with a few lil people cluttering the image! Love this town

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  2. Hi MN. Thanks for the comment. Took late for Turri - we've moved on to Peru - oh well! Thanks for the suggestions though. Because I was sick we tended to stay very close to our hotel for dinner.

    It's a great photo isn't it. You're very welcome to copy mine and pass it off as your own - lol. I have discovered a great little program called Inpaint which costs $20 and removes dates and other unwanted things from photos really easily. It can be a bit tricky if the background to what you want to remove is varied but usually works really well. http://www.theinpaint.com/

    cheers
    Lyn

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  3. Thanks for the tip but my lil people are the nieces so I don't quite wish to blot them out! Ah Peru, my fave country on that continent...looking forward to reading about your adventures there. And thanks for the Bariloche car hire tip, most useful

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  4. Ooooh, Valpo is one of my favourite cities in the whole world! When I lived in Santiago I visited as much as I possibly could and I have a few photos of that staircase (your last picture), isn't it amazing?! Off to check out your other Chile posts now too :) Glad to have found you through Travel Tuesday!
    ~ Marcella

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    1. Hi Clem and Marcella. I know what you mean. If I could just pop across the world for the weekend I would go to Valparaiso. It has to be one of the most magical places I've ever been to.

      If you are looking for my other posts on Chile just go to the blue labels in the right hand column of my blog and click on the label 'Chile' then scroll down through the hotel reviews.

      cheers
      Lyn

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