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This was Valparaiso 4 days ago:

Photo taken by AFP and reported on BBC; Fire rages in Valparaiso, Chile – 12 April 2014

And Valparaiso is where we are right now:

The region affected by the fire when we went

It’s been all over the news. And little did we know what we were going into (backpacking can take your mind off of the TV and current events for quite a bit) until yesterday when one of my friends living in Santiago gave me a heads up about it.

Relief efforts for victims of the fire

By the time we all fully digested how bad this was, we were already on our way to Valparaiso.

Our stay here in Valparaiso surprisingly was unaffected by the fire. I wished there was something we could do for the city, but it seemed that when I asked around, the government didn’t want foreign tourists to get involved and that they had the situation fully under control.

So we did our best to enjoy Valparaiso as much as we could, and support the residents of this wonderful city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. iFuerza Valpo!

So Valpo, how pretty are you?

We started our day by trying to take money out of the ATMs, whereby I was able to convince my bank to unblock my ATM card — the one that got skimmed in Rio — for a few minutes so I could take out some cash. Instead it would then get eaten by the machine — as in, it was confiscated and presumably destroyed. How fitting.

As I was trying to sort this out, I let the group go ahead, but slowly.

But I would lose them anyway. They had both my maps so I wandered blind around Valparaiso for about an hour alone.

Didn’t mean I couldn’t find great sights myself:

 

I managed to bum wifi off from a nearby museum (500 Chilean pesos if you’re a student), and managed to find my group at a nearby café.

From there we began exploring. And that is essentially what you do in Valparaiso: walk and explore. It doesn’t matter what we tell you about where to go…just let yourself wander aimlessly here and the city will reward you in kind.

 

Part of the must-do in Valparaiso is to ride the old school furnicular ascensors up the hills instead of climbing endless stairs. They’re a 100 Chilean pesos each:

But other than the ascensors, Valpo is famous for its ubiquitous street art: 


We also headed to the docks and got ourselves a boat for 35,000 Chilean Pesos for 11 people for half an hour:

Some people missed it entirely:

We then headed to Pablo Neruda’s house, San Sebastiana, up on the hill.

Pablo Neruda’s House in Valparaiso

His house had some great views, which we took advantage of:

We then found an amazing place to have dinner called Fauna. It seemed new as it wasn’t in any of our guidebooks and it ended up being one of the best meals I ever had:

Chilean Sea Bass…in Chile!

And then wrapping up the night with a random slide in the middle of the street:

– At time of posting in Valparaiso, it was 53.6 °F
Humidity: 20% | Wind Speed: 17km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a