Valparaíso and Santiago

Trip Start Jan 15, 2008
Trip End Feb 25, 2008

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Friday, February 1, 2008

My uncle Luis told his nephew in Valparaíso to pick me up from the bus station and find me cheap lodging, so I ended up in a cool student house. After my gig in Iquique, I felt I wanted to play more music and Valpo is known to be a very cultural city so straight away I looked up the bar area. I found a bohemian bar where the waitress was particularly enthusiastic about me playing there the next day. Only problem was...I didn't have a guitar. Usually this shouldn't be a problem because everybody in South America seems to play guitar so I was told to look for some guy the next day who would know a guy who would know someone who had a guitar (still following?).

So the next day I went to this bar and by coincidence I managed to get a (very crappy) guitar from the owner of another bar. He told me I could also play as an "opening act" the same night as the other bar, so suddenly I had a lot of work! Then I finally started off my first day as a tourist in Valparaíso. I climbed up the insanely steep hills, or rather I actually took one of those creaky old lifts, and when I got on top of one of the hills, Cerro de la Concepción, and had a view on the port, I just immediately fell in love with this city. It's so breathtakingly beautiful. All the coloured wooden houses, the little alleys and steep streets, it's a city built as a labyrinth and it was a joy for me to get lost over and over again and rediscover new streets. Also, it's unbelievable the kind of street art (you can't call it graffiti, it's too well done for that) that's literally everywhere. On every wall, door, even wastebins,'s like people here have so much art running through their bones that they don't know what to do with it. This was a good day, because at lunch I started chatting with a nice girl who was also having lunch on her own like me. Her name was Sarah from Australia and we got along great straight away. So we ended up travelling together for another week. By the way, the gigs that night were a right disaster (no mikes in one place and in the other bar the owner even didn't buy me my drink!).

Viña del Mar is a city just right next to Valparaíso but it couldn't be more different. While Valpo is the bohemian, arty city, Viña is more residential, practical and richer. We also went up the coast for a day, to Zapallar, another cute seaside town, with huge mansions and where the rich and, weirdly enough, mostly blonde and tall people live.
Then we head to the capital, Santiago, which is only an hour and a half away from Valparaíso. We were really lucky and stayed with Marcelo, a couchsurfer and his housemate Pierre from Paris. Their house was like a dream: cool sixties hippy hobbit house with a pool, hammock, avocado and other fruit trees, dog and five cats, guitars and so on!! The two of them were really great guys and we felt at home straight away. Even Lola, the bulldog, liked us from the first minute she threw herself at us. I didn't see much of Santiago, stayed only two days, but I had a very nice impression. For a capital it's really well organised, not very stressfull, but that could be because it's summer holidays here. There are mountains all around but because of the smog you can't see them very well. 

Again I had to separate myself from my travel companion. Sarah was going to Mendoza, Argentina and I was heading to Valdivia, twelve hours south. My ultimate aim is Isla de Chiloé, the biggest island of South America. 
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