Culturally diverse, breathtaking, friendly and a larger than life attitude of locals are some of the things that come to mind as we reflect back on our trip to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. A definite highlight was the port city of Valpariso – with streets lined up with wall to wall art – the city transports you into a space of real beauty. Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize Poet from Chile) fell in love with this city and you will too when you visit it. Air Canada flies direct from Toronto to Santiago Chile which is only 1 hour away from Valpariso.
In the 1800s, Valparaiso was an important port for the Americas, serving as a preferred stop for European ships that had crossed the Atlantic and rounded the southern tip of South America. Dynamics shifted once the Panama Canal opened, and Valparaiso’s economy rapidly declined.
Though it doesn’t hold the same commercial significance as before, Valparaiso still makes an impression on visitors. Brightly colored homes seem to tumble down the city’s hillsides. Creaky ascensores (funiculars) transport people up and down these steep hills by the handful so they don’t have to navigate on foot. Street art covers more walls than not. An overall gritty vibe is interspersed with hints of faded grandeur: elegant government buildings and Victorian-style homes reminiscent of San Francisco. Both big tankers and tiny fishing boats dock in the port. Musicians wander the streets. Poets, travelers, students and sailors huddle together in bars sharing stories and ideas till the wee morning hours.