Valparaiso! Arriving here fulfilled two long held ambitions, firstly to visit the city so brilliantly described in Che Guevara's "Motorcycle Diaries" and secondly to cross the continent of South America from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast. Thhe bus journey from Santiago, though for the most part fairly bland has a brilliant end, winding through the coastal mountains which are covered in the strange mix of Pine forest and Palm trees and then descending steeply through the brightly painted houses of Valparaiso to the Pacific coast. Stepping out the surprisingly small bus station you are confronted by the National Congress of Chile's building which isnt exactly a sight for sore eyes, what is though is the fact that there are cabs waiting to take you to wherever you need to go which in my case was useful given I had the name and street of my hostel but no idea how far away it was or in which direction. Arriving at the hostel I was shown to my room, now despite having booked one bed in the 6 person dorm online I was shown into the 3 person dorm(I was later to discover that this was due to 5 middle aged Chilean women staying in the 6 person dorm who didn't really like the idea of some 18 year old hoodlum being cast into their midst...) but I wasn't complaining as it turned out that for my entire stay I would have this large room with 3 single beds, WiFi and a cable TV set entirely to myself! After ditching my bag I went out to explore the town. The first thing you notice about Valparaiso is that there is graffiti EVERYWHERE, but while there is some of the usual mindless scrawls the majority of it is really good quality and gives the entire city the feel of an open air modern art gallery. The second thing you notice about Valparaiso is that there isn't actually a lot to do here in terms of museums, galleries, general touristy stuff. But in a way that is the great thing about the city, you don't get distracted running around trying to see all that stuff instead you just spend days happily wondering the streets, sitting in the plazas and cafes watching the old men play cards, the street musicians, the students arguing frantically in Spanish, the young kids playing football etc which is what I did. Its one of those cities where just being there is the best part of it. I did however spend a large amount of time getting very frustrated by the fact that none of the markets, corner shops, supermarkets etc had an Argentine-Chile adaptor until I eventually saw one for sale from an old man sitting by a stall in the street! In an attempt to save money I cooked in the hostel using the same set of ingredients two nights in a row, the first night I treated myself to pasta in a tomato sauce with fried onions, tomatoes and peppers along with some chorizo and a bottle of red wine(which was split with a swedish couple who in turn made some Pisco Sours). The second night the rest of the chorizo was made into two large homemade chorripans topped with, rather predictably, onions, tomato and peppers and accompanied by the rest of the wine. Still two very enjoyable, and more importantly cheap, meals. On my final day here I had 3 rather memorable experiences. First off was at lunch on my way to the bus station to buy my ticket out of town; having stopped in a small cafe on Plaza Bernardo O'Higgins to buy a very cheap but filling chicken burger and chips a man who was clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed approached me and asked me for twenty pesos, which I was happy to give him as that is about 2 pence in UK money. He then decided it was socially appropriate to scoop up the left over mustard from my, thankfully empty, plate with his finger and then suck his finger. The waitress saw this, was mortified and chased the man away before apologising profusely...I was just very confused as to what had happened at this point. The second memorable experience of the day also centred around food, having taken the "ascensor" up to the top of one of the hills to get a night time view over the city I decided to stop into a little bar/restaurant place for dinner...this turned out to be a great choice, a large pizza, a pint, a pisco sour and a crepe with chocolate ice cream all for £10. The place also had the greatest jukebox in the world playing a selection of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doors and The Beatles. I also ended up chatting to one of the staff who was working there for a month and was from Berwick...small world! The final memorable experience of the day was walking down the hill from the restaurant to the hostel and seeing a group of about 6 lads in the street, all aged roughly between 17-21, serenading 3 girls hanging out a top floor window with some traditional Chilean guitar music...only in South America! Anyway tomorrow onto the colonial city/beach resort of La Serena!