Since we appear to be a little behind…I think we will just try and do a couple of different entries to try and break things up a bit!
Valparaiso was the first "real" city that we have been to so far that we have fallen in love with. The atmosphere was lively yet relaxed at the same time. We were told that it was a painter's paradise, but what we found we never could have imagined. The city reminded me of pictures that I have seen of Curacao: a place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since seeing an article in magazine five years ago - and from which started a painting equally long ago. From the incredibly artistic and colorful graffiti on every imaginable surface to the undeniable energy of a real working harbor to the vibrantly painted corrugated metal homes, there was always something to capture your attention.
On top of the beauty of the city itself, we were also blessed with a stroke of luck. While hopelessly searching for a reasonably priced place to stay, Aaron noticed a small handwritten sign advertising "piezas"(rooms) in a window. Upon entering the "pieza", we knew that we had struck gold, this was no "pieza", this was a spacious apartment with an incredible view of the city. Every night we enjoyed a home-cooked meal with a view of the sunset over the harbour.It was a real treat after staying night after night in stuffy rooms and eating in mediocre restaurants.
Our venture out of Valparaiso was to take a two-hour bus ride south to a town called Isla Negra.This was home to Pablo Neruda during his final days.After checking out his beautiful view (and, oops, "forgetting" to pay the entrance fee), we headed into town for a real seafood meal. There we finally tried machas parmesanas, upon recommendation from a local. They are basically a toned down version of cohaugs - baked clams topped with parmesan cheese - although Vinnie´s, our landlord in Newburyport, were far more spectacular!
For our last day in Valpo, we took the very modern and immaculate commuter rail into Viña del Mar. There we briefly visited their botanical garden and spent the rest of the day enjoying the perfect weather and coastline.
The next morning we said goodbye to our home away from home, and hopped on the bus to begin our very extended travel day to Santiago…then Temuco...then Pucon…only after a brief scuffle with an older local woman who seemed to think our seats were hers, and only hers....