We left the city lights of Santiago and headed west towards the coast to Valparaiso, a small seaside town that was apparently the hipster central of Chile. We’d heard good things about this place from Chileans and tourists alike, with one guy even describing it as “the most beautiful place in South America!” This was going to be good.
After a not so strenuous 5 hour journey, we finally arrived. In all honesty, first impressions were not great; the buildings were pretty run down, the traffic was immense, the streets were dirty and stray dogs roamed free, going to the toilet wherever they liked. Were we in the right place? Where were the beautiful surroundings that we’d been promised?
To add insult to injury, it started raining. The sky’s were gray and storms rolled in over the bay. Not a great start but we were determined to make the best of things, so we ordered an Uber and headed off to the hostel.
After a short wait the Uber arrived, only for the 60 year old driver to take us in completely the wrong direction. The hills in Val Paraiso are immensely steep and her clapped out banger of a car really struggled to reach the top! We drove round and round the different areas before eventually stumbling across our accommodation for the night… a derelict building with single glazed windows, no heating and hot water heated by a calor gas bottle! Fantastic. Definitely not as described on booking.com, but what can you say when it’s £10 a night!
Feeling disappointed, we gave the door a knock. A couple of minutes went by with no answer, only for the door to suddenly swing open on its own like something out of a horror film! We looked at each other with a tinge of terror and amusement, was this place for real?! “Sorry guys, I was working on the roof!” came a shout from upstairs. “I’ve installed a pulley system so I can let you in without coming down! Nice to meet you I’m Ernesto!” We burst out laughing and headed up for a very cold night.
We set off in the morning to explore the town and its street art. Graffiti was everywhere and some amazing exhibits were out on display, much better than the infamous NAT HAS HERPES that we’re used to in Hackney!
We visited an art museum and climbed the hills to soak in the views. We walked down to the harbour area with the intention of taking a boat ride, but were immediately heckled by a group of locals trying to get our business. Unlike the friendly banter put forward by business owners in the rest of our travels, this seemed aggressive and rather intimidating, so we moved on.
In all honesty, our experience of Val Paraiso wasn’t the greatest. We really do feel that if the weather had been better, than things may have been different. But our opinion is that it’s a cheap mans Shoreditch and can probably be missed from your journey.
All in all – 5 /10 and that’s only because of the street art!