Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Where I stayed
B&B La Nona Valparaiso
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, October 3, 2008

 Arriving in Santiago airport we have to jump on a local bus for the 90 minute trip back up the coast to Valaparaiso through yet again more fanatstic Chilean scenery.

Valparaíso (literally in Spanish: means Paradise Valley is a major city in Chile, one of the country's most important seaports and an increasingly important cultural centre. Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaíso has a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways and a unique architectural style. It is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often considered to be one of Latin America's most intriguing urban areas.
Valparaíso's claims to fame include; 
- Latin America's oldest stock exchange (proabaly not the time to visit just at the moment!)
- the continent's first volunteer fire department (antique fire engines everywhere & still a voluntary service)
- and has the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world.

Despite all of these, Valparaiso"is perhaps most famous for it's graffiti. It is considered a major art form here and is perhaps the only place in the world where home owners are actually pleased if someone comes along and spray-paints the front of their house!

We are staying at La Nona Bed and Breakfast which is run by a guy called Rene and his girlfriend Carolina.  Rene is possibly the most hospitable host we have met on our travels and is a wealth of information on what to see and do in 'Valpo' and the surrounding area.  So helpful and enthusiastic is this guy that we decide to extend our stay from 2 to 4 days before even upacking.  We are treated more like friends than guests and immediately feel right at home. The building is located on one of the best hills and is a beautiful example of the local architectgure (victorian era, clad with painted corrugated iron panels), and decorated with a modern flair. 

Following Renes recommendations for restaurants, we have ate in many nice places -  one day in Cinzano's which is just like Renee's restaurant in the BBC series Allo Allo!  The waiters are all at least 70 and these are apparently the same guys who put on a Tango show in the evenings! (unfortuantely we didn't make it).  At another place the "Casino Social Club", (which is neither a Casino nor a social club, but a small resatarant where every inch is covered in grafitti) we sample one of the national dishes, Chorillana, which is sort of chopped steak, egg and onions piled on top of a plate of chips (tastes better than it sounds). At a very trendy tapas bar/restaurant we had the most perfect platter of meats/cheese/olives.  Food is so much nicer here in Valpo than we have experienced in several months of our travels !

The next day we follow the Renes' Graffiti trail which is a walk around the streets where the most colourful graffiti and be found. The views along the way are amazing and along the way we try out a couple of the ancient funicular railways which take you up the very steepest parts of the Valparaiso hills, very rickety, but still doing the job after a century or more.
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