The second part of the Turistik tour out of Santiago, was to Valparaiso, Chile. This had two elements – a visit to the Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda’s, house (one of three in Chile) and a walking tour through Valparaiso.
The drive in looked promising – a colourful street market underway.
This unusual monument was constructed out of twists of copper, the most common export from Chile (and thus Valparaiso, which was once its biggest port). The guide explained that, before the advent of the Panama canal, Valparaiso was hugely influential as the landing site for commodities and spices from Asia, which would then be carried across South America and onwards to Europe and elsewhere from Buenos Aires.
It was a gorgeous day, full of indigo skies and the colourful rooftops twinkling in the sun.
Lunch was up first! Always a favourite in my book. I didn’t note the name of it down as we thought we were being walked through a building to get a view of the city from up high (well that was true).
Lunch was a Chilean sea bass with root vegetables, followed by frozen papaya and a little smidge of local honey.
It was so warm, the hat was badly needed!
Neruda’s house was up next. Look, I’d heard of him as a Nobel Laureate, but not read anything much (my Spanish isn’t that good) and I wasn’t much interested in his manky bedclothes! But it was included and I’m a sucker for an interpretative audio tape.
He must have had a lovely view too!
A particularly dramatic gate!
This struck me as very odd… not only are you forbidden from smoking and spitting (!!!), but the sign refers to pedicures? Do I have that right? And it was a pierced wooden door fronting the toilet!
Some of Neruda’s chairs. Fascinating stuff.
At last, we were back on to the street, all of colourful life on show in Valparaiso’s streets.
The guide explained that, in common with other fishing and seaboard communities, houses were painted random colours because the paint was ‘acquired’ from whatever ship was being painted in harbour at the time it was built or needed repainting. Blue ship being painted? Equals a blue house.
Valparaiso was a fascinating stop off and I’m so glad I went there.
There was an Israeli guy on the trip who sat across from me who wondered why all of the houses in Valparaiso were made of wood.
I did discover the reason a few days later. A huge amount of earthquakes which hit Chile occur just off the coast from Valparaiso and I spotted a few signs saying “Tsunami Evacuation Route”. I think it might be cheaper to build your home in wood if it’s going to get a good shaking every few days!
It was also remarkable that there wasn’t a huge build up of the posher restaurants and shops at the waterfront that you get in European seaside places. But I did love that this man was hanging his towels out.