Valparaiso was a city that Andy’s friend from work who did a similar trip to ours highly recommended. Since it was close to Santiago, a city we were planning on visiting anyway, we decided that we would check it out.
Once we were arrived we were impressed with the charm of the city. There were many historical buildings set on the side of the hill overlooking water. It reminded us a little bit of Astoria, Oregon, one of our favorite cities on the west coast.
Things We Saw and Did
Visited Wine Country
Before we visited Valparaiso, Chile, I didn’t even know wine country was nearby. Once I learned it was a quick 30 minute bus, it was on our must see list. The owners of our hostel told us that it wasn’t really walkable and our best bet would be to rent a car or take taxis. We looked at the map and decided that it was walkable – an inaccurate assumption.
We took a 30 minute 1,200 peso or $1.75 bus ride from Valparaiso. From the terminal in Casablanca, which is not a terminal, only a park, we caught a 5,000 peso or $7.13 taxi to our first winery. We figured from there we could walk to the rest of the wineries before taking a taxi back to the park where we would catch a bus.
We started out at Indomita, one of the nice wineries which was close to a few other wineries. After looking at our tasting wine choices, we decided on the least expensive, basic tasting for 3,000 pesos or $4.28 each. We figured that we had the day to go to a bunch of different wineries and wanted to keep our budget in check. We enjoyed our wine on the patio. When we finished up, I asked if we could order some food. I was told that we could only order food in the dining room which looked very pretentious to me. I said something to the effect of “If I can’t dine on the patio I’ll just spend my money elsewhere” to which the employee gave me directions to another winery. It wasn’t the level of service that I expected but I took it as a sign to leave without purchasing anything, which we did.
Our journey on foot to Vina Mar was a lot longer than we had anticipated. Both of the wineries were set quite a bit off the main road and there was no road that connected them. That meant in order to get from one to the other we had to walk all the way to the main road, and over to the next driveway where we had to walk all the way up. While they looked close on the map, the walk was a 30+ minute walk. Part way through our walk we realized that people were right, it isn’t a walkable thing.
Once we arrived at Vina Mar, we headed to the restaurant. By this time it was mid-afternoon and we were very hungry. We ordered lunch on the patio but were sad to learn that for some reason tastings could only be done downstairs. Instead of waiting to drink some wine, we ordered a glass with our lunch. After we ate, we headed downstairs to do a tasting. Again, we picked the basic tasting which cost 5,000 pesos or $7.13. The pours here seemed a little more generous than the previous winery and came off as less pretentious which I liked.
There were tours at both wineries but I’ve done enough wine tours in my life to know I could skip them. Tours always cover the same things – how the weather impacts their grapes, how their location makes amazing wine, how the winery processes the wine and the awards that they have won.
When we were finishing up the wine tasting, we had the winery call a taxi. Our timing worked out perfectly since we pulled into the bus stop less than a minute before the bus to Valparaiso arrived. We quickly hopped on the bus and took it back to Valparaiso.
Walked Around the City
Since we didn’t have a lot of things on our agenda that we wanted to see or do, we spent a good amount of time just walking around the city. It was very walkable and easy to get around via public transit. The city is built on the hillside so there are quite a few different spots where you have great views of the city and bay below.
It is an artistic city, with artwork in all different forms, from graffiti to paintings and mosaics, all over the place. Art was everywhere from abandoned buildings to parks around town. While I’m not huge into art, it felt different in the open air vs. a museum. The whole city had a very unique and fun vibe because of the art. We had fun walking around and taking pictures of our favorite artwork.
Since there are a lot of hills and walking up them can be challenging, we hopped a ride on one of the funicular elevators in town. They are essentially outdoor elevators that were built many years ago and some of which still in operation. In total, the city has 28 funiculars, 8 of which are still in use today. While we could have walked or taken a bus, it was fun to ride a piece of history, especially since it was only 100 pesos or 15 cents each.
Marveled at the Container Ships
Valparaiso is a port town and there was no shortage of container ships loading or unloading there. We found a great view of the harbor and watched how the ships were loaded which was fascinating. It would have been fun to set up a timelapse of the process but we didn’t think of it until after the fact.
Tried Chilean Food
Since we were right on the ocean, we knew that we had to get some seafood for dinner. We found a great local place and enjoyed the fresh fish immensely.
Our second attempt in Chilean food was not nearly as good. We had heard about bisteck a la chorrillana which is essentially french fries with any number of toppings on it. We tried the classic which included cooked beef, scrambled egg and onion. When we tried our first bite we realized that this is one of the regional specialities that we wouldn’t come to love. There was something about the fries, which turned soggy when the toppings were added, that killed it for us.
Relaxed at the B&B
Since we really liked our accommodations in Valparaiso, we spent a decent amount of time at the B&B, just relaxing. We weren’t alone, the B&B had a great vibe with many of the travelers spending time in the shared common area. We exchanged tips with a girl who was headed north, going to places that we visited before and got tips from another guy who had spent some time in Argentina. It’s always good to hear how a city is from travelers who have been where we are planning to go.
Since we had good wifi we also were busy loading pictures from our 7 day tour through Bolivia to our Google drive for safe keeping should anything happen to our computer or hard drive.
Valparaiso was charming and had a lot to see. If we had more time, we could have wandered the streets for hours, looking at the different architecture and artwork.
I am glad that we made the journey over to wine country, but if I did it again I would book either a tour, or get a designated driver to take me around. It would have been really fun to go to more wineries than we were able to visit on foot.
It was great to spend some time in a small city before we headed to Santiago, a city of over 5 million. While things in town were a little expensive, we knew that Chile was going to be quite a bit more expensive than other countries that we had visited to date.