We were thinking about a day trip to Valparaíso and we talked to Sebastian about it. He also said that it is possible to do so, as it is only 1.5 hours far away from Santiago. We woke up ‘early’ to catch the bus. For the bus, you need to go to the Pajaritos subway station. You can buy one way subway tickets from the counters inside the station, they only cost 640 Chilean pesos one way per person. Then, once you get to the Pajaritos station, just follow the signs for the bus transfer. There are three main companies. We chose the one which had a bus around 9:00 am. Name of the company was Condor and when you buy a round trip it costs around 6000 Chilean pesos per person round trip. With a slight delay, we started our journey. You go through various tunnels during the trip. There are a lot of wine yards just outside of Santiago. We were talking about the Santiago valley and the fact that there is no agriculture. At least, you cannot see anything from the San Cristóbal Hill. But once you are out of Santiago, you will see a lot of land where various things are being cultivated. For us it seemed like grapes were the dominant produce.
After this great ride, we got to the city bus station. From here started walking to Pablo Neruda’s house, La Sebastiana. On the way, we noticed a street market which was very similar to the ones that we have in Turkey. Pablo Neruda’s house is located on a hill and we started climbing up to reach there. First there is a road, but then we hit the hill and the stairs started. There is a lot of graffiti and wall paintings all around this hilly part of the town. We also realized some rails that are not used any more and covered with ivy with flowers. We passed under one of those rails to cross from one stairs to another, and we were wondering what this rails used to be used for. One striking view that you will notice in this city is the colors of the houses. When we were going up to hill, we were passing through different houses with very bright colors that you usually do not see in the big cities. When we got to Pablo Neruda’s house, we first when into the shop and bought the tickets, which costed 6000 Chilean pesos per person, and a magnet with a piece of his poem. Then we started our tour, first with the terrace outside, which has a beautiful tree with purple flowers just in front of the house, and has a magnificent view of the Valpaíso Bay. When you enter the house, the first thing that strikes you is the ancient map of Patagonia built by stones, on the wall of the stairway. We stared at it as we went up the stairs, which in the original form was not the real entrance of the house, but led to the terrace. When we go up the stairs, we get to the original entrance of the house, which has a stained glass door, and the door of the hallway has two golden statues of ancient women welcoming you into the upper floors. In the first floor, there is the living room and the most striking part is the view of the bay from the oval-shaped windows. The living room itself is also oval and there is a horse from a carrousel that seems to be still going round and round the room, inviting us to play with Neruda. The dining room is right next to the living room and also designed with a special taste, but we loved that the way that the bar was designed. Apparently only he was allowed behind the bar. There is also a toilette with a door with holes, which was daring his guests to use it. Then we went to the second floor with the bedroom. The view of the bay fills inside the room again. The bed is situated right next to the window for him to watch the sea when he gets up. After looking again at the decorations, we moved to the bathroom, which is very simple as compared to the rest of the house, but he separated the toilet from the bathroom, as his wife was taking too long, which B though was a good idea for our next house =P Finally, we moved on to the fifth floor, through the staircases that are decorated by maps. The handles of the staircases are made of those thick ropes used in the ships. Next thing you feel is the wind blowing down the stairs. And when we entered the study room, it was as if we moved to the front of the ship. The whole view of the bay is in front of you. He used to say that he was a sailor on land, and you can understand what he meant by it in this room. One of the walls has an old map of South America with comments of the first explorers about the land. His study desk is again in front of the window and the whole decoration of the house, which was done by himself, was absolutely stunning. We were glad for the time we have spent here.
After the house, we ate at a cafe nearby two quick sandwiches with a view of the bay. Then we made our way back to Plaza Aníbal Pinto (Aníbal Pinto Square) to meet with our guides from Free Tour: http://www.freetourvalparaiso.cl/tour.html While we were waiting it to be 15:00 for the tour to start, we had an helado (ice cream) from Emporio Rosa, which is delicious. After finding out this square used to be under water before – hence the statue of Poseidon there – we walked to Ascensor Reina Victoria (Reina Victoria Elevator). So indeed, the abandoned rails that we had passed under earlier belonged to an old elevator ;)
Then, we started our tour of seeing the graffiti art that is present on almost all of the walls of the houses of the town. We saw many: some with the art of an old cartoonist, some depicting a woman who used to heal people but in fact she was giving them shrooms, some showing Pablo Neruda, some depicting the Native Americans of Chile, naturalism in women, and many many many more. Afterwards, we saw many churches and one of them had a clock Reloj Turri (Turri Clock), where the clock maker made the numbers with Roman numbers, but he changed 4, IV to IIII, because it is more symmetric and beautiful to 8, VIII. However, the commissioner of the clock didn’t like it and the clockmaker lost his head. This lead to all clockmakers around the world to start making the numbers this way.
We passed by the oldest washing machine of the town, which is a platform going along the stairways. They used to flow water from the top and the women of the town would sit on the stairs and wash the clothes on the platform. We walked by Paseo Yugoslavo – Palacio Baburizza (Yugoslavo Boulevard – Baburizza Palace) and it got the name of a man from old Yugoslavia who came to Chile through Valparaíso, and he decided to come back to live here, and bought one of the nicest houses of the town and when he died he gave it back to the town and it was turned into the Museo Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum). We passed by the street in front of the bay Calles Urriola – Prat (Urriola and Prat streets) with many colorful houses which belonged to the sailors at the time. We stopped in front of the Supreme Court where there is Miss Justice holding a cross with the balance that is not balanced and her eyes are not blindfolded. This was a gift by a Peruvian who tried to work there, but nobody would give him a job, so he went to the court, and the best solution they could find was that he goes back to his home country, so he sent back this statue as a gift.
Then, we went to the Plaza Sotomayor (Sotomayor Square) where there is the Monumento a los Héroes de Iquique (Monument to the Heroes of Iquique) that is dedicated to the sailors who died in one of the first sea wars of the Pacific War, that helped Chile win the war in the end. It was almost 18:00 when we were there, so we waited to watch the soldiers pull the flag down at the end of the day. We also saw one of the old buildings in the square where they kept the façade and fitted a new tall glass building in it.
We finished the tour at the Muelle Prat (Prat Dock) which is the small harbor by the sea. During the day, we started chatting with everyone in the tour, so at the end of the day we decided to get a beer all together, and our guide took us to a cheap local bar. After having a beer with everyone, we went back to Santiago. We caught a bus at 20:00 and ate the leftovers from the bbq that we did with Sebastian the other day. Then we went directly to bed, because we had to wake up at 3:30 to catch a flight at 6:00!