Valparaiso has been described as an Architectural wonder, Chile’s most unusual city, a mini San Francisco and for these reason Valparaiso was high on my bucket list and I couldn’t wait to get there.
I had a romantic view of how the city would be; by the ocean, small little cafes on the cobbled streets, coloured funiculars linking the hills with the port area. Well all the above went straight down the pan after about 20 minutes of arriving in the city!
Yes the ‘street art’ is colourful and very well done some of it has very interesting stories behind it but the rest of the place is just covered in out and out graffiti, the area is run down, feels unsafe. Some of the buildings are in ruins or are in need of some serious repair but because it is a UNESCO World Heritage city you cannot alter the exterior so unless you are willing to invest a substantial sum of money they are just left to fall into disrepair.
I have never seen so many stray dogs in one place and the pavements are covered in dog crap and the subsequent smells are awful. Maybe we caught Valparaiso on a bad day, but I couldn’t wait to get on the bus out of there. We met other people who loved the city and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this was not the place I had dreamed about.
We picked La Serena as a stop off on our way to northern Chile, it is situated on the coast and is a charming little place to spend a couple of days. We spent one of days visiting the Elqui Valley, which is famous for the distilling of Pisco. We would suggest that you hire a car to visit this area to give you the freedom to stop off and visit the sites on route. We went be public bus and going through the hills for nearly 2 hours at that speed made us feel travel sick.