Valparaiso is a crazy, wonderful mix of colorfully painted houses hanging off steep crumpling hills. The access from the flat city centre up to the hills is by ascesores (funicular elevators) that seem to be suspended in midair.

I stayed at Lun Sonrise, which is in the heart of the UNESCO World heritage area. A nice small place to stay with friendly hosts.

I also did a slow sweaty hike up the tangled footpaths as this was the best way to find what the locals jokingly call graffiti. The “graffiti” are in fact wonderful paintings of all descriptions on garage doors, deserted cars and any clear space on walls of every shape and size.

Near Valparaiso is the township of Vina del Mar. It has a more sedate pace as it’s a traditional resort town; a charming place to sit and people watch.

I headed back to Santiago. I had whizzed through there on my way to the Falkland Islands and I wanted to explore more.

Santiago is a great place to people watch and there are many spots where you can escape the noise and smog of the city.

The metro is simple to use which allowed me to explore the suburbs. I discovered a village that is set up to showcase the talents of the locals. They create anything from alpaca scarves to leather saddles with detailed workmanship. I spent a lovely afternoon sitting in the sunshine eating great food, accompanied by a talented local playing the harp for everyone to enjoy.

I stayed at Orly. It was more upmarket than my usual stays but I wanted somewhere that was safe to leave my bags in between heading off to the Falkland Islands. I didn’t speak any Spanish before I travelled to Chile. This was a mistake as there were many places I went where no English was spoken. The fact I was able to eat and get around was completely due to the helpful nature of the locals who didn’t mind my poor pronunciation and were willing to try and interpret my limited vocabulary. I did wonder if many of us would be so helpful to a foreigner with limited English in our own countries.

Tips:

  1. Learn some Spanish before you go
  2. Be kind to the next tourist you see in your home town.

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