Saturday, April 4, 2009

Valparaiso y Santiago

I spent a few days in Santiago, I honestly wasn't finding it all that interesting - it was just another big South American city - granted a much better organized than most, but in the end, most of the attractions involve churches and monuments commemorating revolutionary leaders... My favorite attractions of the city actually were the food (I managed to have Thai, Chinese, sushi, and, well, pizza) and the odd music tastes the locals have - on my first night in town, Iron Maiden was holding a concert... I didn't even know Iron Maiden was still performing. The next night was a Radiohead concert - that I would have actually enjoyed seeing.

The food and the music weren't enough to hold my attention though, so I started branching out from the town. Step one, a day trip to the Santa Rita winery. Now, Tim and I had visited a few wineries back in Mendoza - this one blew them all away. Whereas in Mendoza they generally focus on making wine and let some tourists come in for a look, the guys in Santa Rita have created a bona fide tourist attraction that happens to also produce something like 120 million bottles of wine a year.

The Santa Rita courtyard

So, I had lunch there, did a tour, and visited the museum. Getting to the winery wasn't quite as easy as in Mendoza: 40 minutes on a train, another 15 on a bus, and a 10 minute walk from the front gate to the actual winery. By the time I had gotten there, I was reasonably certain I was the first person to have reached the place without an organized tour (this did cut the cost by some $50 of course). The people at the winery seemed to pick up on this also and being the friendly Chileans that they are offered me a ride back into town on the employee shuttle bus...

The next day, I packed up my bags, and headed to the coast, to the town of Valparaiso. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I figured it was definitely worth a weekend trip. I don't know much about the UNESCO criteria, but I did find Valparaiso a very pleasant and relaxing destination for a weekend getaway. The city is generally famous for a few things:

Being built on a side of a steep hill, and the ascenseur's (elevators) they've built all over town to simplify the process of getting up the hill

The beautiful views of the bay from the tops of the hills. The city also serves as a major port - both commercial and for cruise ships. I met a few people at my hostel who were there waiting for their cruise ship that was delayed a couple days coming around Cape Horn

And the graffiti that covers most of the town, but not the 'East Side Rulz' we might be used to back home, but beautifully artistic designs. Graffiti is legal here and is usually done by artists

Ok, some of it was also pretty funny...

After Valparaiso, I came back to Santiago, just in time to witness the entire city celebrating its national team's victory over Peru in a World Cup qualifying match. I wasn't leaving for another day, so I had a chance to scout Santiago for a few interesting sites too:

A church juxtaposed next to glass-covered modern office building makes for a cool reflection shot

Fountains in front of the Presidential palace. If this were the Presidential Palace in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, I wouldn't have been allowed to take this picture... just a random thought...

And a bit of graffiti here with a slightly more political angle

And after seeing all that (and determining that I couldn't get anything resembling an affordable ticket to Easter island), I headed out of Santiago, on my way up North towards Machu Pichu and Peru. More on the Chilean North coming soon to a post near you.

1 comment:

dlott said...

Ahhh Turkmenistan. I'm glad we at least have the shot of the Presidential Palace from Neutrality Arch. You can see the fountains, just not up close...