Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Saturday, December 21

Today Katie and I woke up early and went downstairs to eat hotel breakfast and meet our tour guide at 9. We were booked for an all day private walking tour of Valparaiso with a dude who spoke absolutely perfect English. We met him and talked while eating breakfast, and then we started the tour. We walked to Castillo Wulf, which is now an art gallery.
Then we took the micro from Vina into Valparaiso. I don’t remember everything we did in order because it was a huge long day, but we walked all through the hills of Valparaiso. The guide, Cristian, told us all about the history of Valparaiso (one of the first and most important ports in South America) and showed us everything.
We rode up and down the famous slanted elevators that are used to get up the city’s steep hills; we rode on the trolley, and walked through the street market.
We walked up into this sketchy neighborhood where he made us leave our backpacks with a shop owner who was his friend before we actually went into the neighborhood. When we rode the elevator up to the top, I asked him why he was so conscious in this area. He confessed that he and another tour group had been robbed at gunpoint here about 5 months ago and that this neighborhood has a 70% delinquent population. He had taken us there because it has some of the prettiest and most elaborate graffiti in all of the city, and so we carefully walked through looking at the amazing murals and also looking behind our backs often enough. We went into the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's house and got a 30 minute audio tour of the whole place.
Around 4, we were absolutely starving, so we went to this super tradition restaurant called J Cruz. The restaurant only serves one dish—Chorrillanas, which is French fries topped with caramelized onions, scrambled egg, and strips of beef. It was surprisingly not that bad, although I felt like I was about to get diabetes the whole time I was eating it. After the giant meal, we continued walked through the financial district of Valparaiso, where the buildings quickly changed from small and incredibly colorful to imposing and well arcitectured.
Then we got to the marina, where we boarded a private boat and went for a tour around the port. We saw where they unload the boats, we saw the fireworks already ready for the giant and super famous new year’s firework show in Vina (which I will be going to), we saw the navy boats (Valparaiso is also the Chilean Navy’s base), and we saw lots of sea lions. It was a really beautiful view of Valparaiso and Vina, with all their colorful houses all packed together on the hills. After the boat ride, we walked around in the more touristy part of town, going into little shops and walking through the hills.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped to get some ice cream from Emporio de la Rosa, which is one of the 25 best ice cream shops in the world! We got back to the hotel around 9, making that a 12 hour walking tour. I had been energetic the whole tour, but as soon as we got in the car to drive home to Rancagua, I completely crashed and slept the whole ride home. We got back to Katie’s house around 12 and we both went straight to sleep.

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