VALPARAISO

by Mario
Day 3 CD.
The time when we were travelling with Ivan (a very popular name in Chile 🙂 passed very quickly, mainly due to the continuous talk with our new host. We got there about 5 p.m. From the station Vina del Mar picked us colleague of Ivan, the driver collectivos. Collectivos is a type of taxi which runs along a fixed route and usually the driver waits until it is complete. Of course you don’t have to wait, but you have to pay for all the missing persons.
Valparaiso, Vina del Mar are a kind of our Polish Tri-City. With this difference that these cities lie on the slopes of the mountains. Therefore, inter alia, we decided not to take a pram for Mania. Between the cities there are several means of transport. Besides the obvious taxis and collectivos there are trains and microbusses. We used the latter, but they are mostly crowded.
The apartment of Ivan was by far the best place in Chile, in which we stayed. Our satisfaction was even bigger because of the incredible view. We could admire the immensity of the ocean, the harbour and other buildings.
The first evening we spent largely on the search for nappies. We had serious problems finding nappies in nearby shops – CLP 6,800 (about $ 13) for 30 pieces. It is more expensive than in Poland. With the additional attraction of the day, we can mention the seafood chowder prepared by Ivan. He tried as best he could, but … well, Ivan certainly will not be the Master Chef of Chile :-). On the other hand, he proved to be a great storyteller, especially those associated with the most turbulent history of the past 50 years in Chile. When we asked him about political issues he told everything from the perspective of a person who has experienced firsthand the Pinochet regime, socio-economic changes, the nascent democracy and many changes that have occurred in recent years in the country.
Mania fell asleep long time ago. She fell asleep every night at about 9 – she was going like a clockwork.
Day 4
In contrast to the concrete, gray and crowded Santiago, Valparaiso welcomed us with a refreshing breeze from the ocean, a multitude of colors, flavors and diversity of influences of different cultures. Until sail around Cape Horn the city was the main port of Chile. Today you can see there mainly some military ships,  fisshermen and boats that take tourists on tours.
As previously mentioned we got to Valparaiso by microbus. Ivan offered to show us the city. From the apartment of Ivan it is quite simple to drive to Valpo – there are two busses number 504 and 505. In the Valparaiso there are plenty of them, with different colors, without the numbers, no schedules, nay, there are not even stops. I’ll give half of my kingdom to the one who is able to find it quickly and will not lose the way. If it was not Ivan, we would have lost a lot of time. According to the plan agreed with Ivan the day before our first steps were directed to the ocean. After all, it was the first time over the Pacific Ocean for Mania and Karola and more aware first time for Mani on the beach. Such a large sandbox she has never seen, and of course she had to try the taste of such a large amount of sand. Walk on the shores we completed by ….  the sea lions lounging about in the sun on the concrete remains of a building  protruding from the water. Such things in the Tri-City you will not see :-).
Another point was the center of the city. In a magical way for us we caught a microbus. The ticket price does not exceed usually 500 CLP per person (less than $ 1). In Valparaiso at every step you can find items from the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the guide book – as a way of exploring – proposes getting lost in the narrow, cobbled streets. Even though with Ivan we did not lost, we were able to see traces of diverse cultural influences in Valpo. From  the English district we passed smoothly in the Spanish district and then in the Jewish one. A very interesting way of getting around quite sloping ground are lifts, which function like a single carriages, which can be found e.g. in Lisbon. There are several in Valpo, and the oldest is from 1881. We managed to ride one of them – El Pearl, who took us to Baburizza Palace.
The last point of our “must see” in Valpo, was the house of the famous Chilean poet, Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. La Sebastiana, it is called the property which is planned down to the smallest detail and which have dreamed Neruda. As he wrote in a letter to friends: “I feel tired of Santiago. I’d like to find in Valparaiso a small house to live and write in peace. However, it must meet certain conditions. It cannot be too high or too low. It should be a secluded place solitude, but without too much of exaggeration. With neighbors who are invisible, preferably I should not see or hear them. Original, but comfortable. A building with many wings, but sturdy. Not too big not too small. Away from everything but close to transport. Self-sufficient, but close to shopping centers. It should also be very cheap.” Neruda found a house on a hill in Valparaiso and called it “La Sebastiana” in honor of the builder of the house. It is worth to visit this beautiful building, though the entrance fee of CLP 5,000 (approx. $ 10). Marianna due to 7h of exploring rebelled at around 4 out of 5 floors, announcing her displeasure with a poo. Thanks to an urgent need to change a nappy on the lawn, I was able to visit Neruda’s garden. Valparaiso captivated us and we regret that we did not have a chance to see this town in the evening, when all pubs come to life. We hope that we will go back to Valparaiso at the end of our journey, if only to buy Mania a dream catchers that we have seen in one of the small shops. Who knows, maybe one day she will dream of this city.

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