I already spoiled it in my last entry but here comes the spoiler again Valparaiso is one of the greatest cities I have ever been to.
My ode to Valparaiso
If Valparaiso was a guy he would probably be a mix between Tom Waits, Jean-Michel Basquiat, a little Bob Marley and Capt. Efraim Longstocking. If it was a girl she would be something between María del Mar Rodríguez Carnero, Janis Choplin and Zaria Forman and if it was legally possible I would marry her. Obviously only if she accepted my proposal which she most likely wouldn’t as she needs her freedom, she is an artist who cannot be bound to one person, a free spirit that loves to be different, who loves to provoke, she wants to have an effect on people, she makes people want to be different, that they don’t want to be an average Joe any longer, that they want to be an artist and disengaged from capitalism like her. Some people even might want to be a better person and make the world a better and more colorful place as she is the kind of city you wanna change for.
Ok you got me, I am not a Shakespeare but I hope I was still able to give you an expression of how much I like this city and even though my love for her has no future she will be always in my heart and I hope one day we will meet again. Alright I did it again and drifted into my cheesy love confession but enough of that now I will try to put it in more formal words.
If you like hanging out in cities once in a while, Valparaiso should be definitely on your bucket list. And why is that you may ask. That I’m going to explain to you now now. First of all Valparaiso is way bigger than you’d expect it to be which is nothing to make it special but it came as a surprise to me but it is a fact that it is different to all cities that I have seen in Latin America. Entering the city of Valparaiso is like entering an old sailors pub crossed with the Tacheles arthouse in Berlin, where everything looks a little rough and so do the guests, the sailors that tell you all these fascinating stories of the sea whilst drinking schnapps and beer.
The city lies on the hills but drags itself from the hills down to the coast. Valparaiso has, another big surprise, a metro that goes along the coast passing several beaches and connects Valparaiso with Viña de mar. But one of the most interesting things about Valparaiso is the neighborhood “cerro alegre” a neighborhood as colorful as a Noe two or C215 artwork. The streets are full of street art and there are unique events, bars and street artists on every corner. The city is weird, surprising and cool like a Tarantino movie where the main actors have characters like the characters from Tim Burton.
It is a place where you simply want to get lost. You can just stroll around in the city for hours and it will dazzle you on every corner. The bars and shop are innovative, unique and very charming. At night people meet up in parks and places and practice different art forms. There are musicians singing or rapping, people acting or performing stand-up comedy. One night I simply went with the flow and found myself in a park making music and connecting with the locals.
On weekends during the day there are stands of people trying to sell their art in streets,backyards or old buildings. You can spend your day just soaking in the great atmosphere in the streets, watch see lions at the beach or buy fresh fish from the fisherman at the market in direction of viña de mar. The city combines flavors of Barcelona, Berlin and Paris. You never get tired of walking through the little alleys as you will always find new interesting things to look at. There are old men playing cards and chess in a park, kids on skateboards or teenagers breakdancing.
I fell in love with the city on first sight and it is now one of my favorite cities I have ever seen. I hardly believe that there is anything comparable in this world.
You may have noticed that this is not the most objective entry of mine but sometimes you can only see the beauty of your loved one and you forget about the flaws and mistakes. Even our hostel (vaparaiso de mi amor) was amazing. It is led by a woman living with her family in the hostel. The building was old and beautiful like all the other buildings in the city. Another thing what I like particularly like, as I am a cat person is that the city is full of cats. In shops, the streets or over the rooftops they are everywhere and mostly very well taken care of which is very untypical for South America. On the other hand there are still a lot of stray dogs which unfortunately did not seem to be treated that well but this is a different story as this is a general problem of South America. But anyway this place is my favorite city in Latin America until now.