After our great stay with Ed and Jenn in Santa Maria we cycled on to the coast. The ride took us through the rich agricultural Central Valley. We continued on the downhill slope all the way to the coast where we tried to find accommodation in the seaside town of Reñaca. While Jan was in a hotel checking availability, a couple came up to me and started chatting. Before long, we were in a small apartment they had available for rent. Nothing fancy but comfortable. It’s amazing how this happens.
The following morning we rode along the beach through Reñaca and into Viña Del Mar, a manicured resort town with palm trees lining wide boulevards and row upon row of high rise condominiums.
The transition into the jumble of different neighbourhoods of Valparaiso is almost shocking. This gritty port town has character and we decided to spend a few days here. We found great accommodation through Air B&B with Carlos, an architect who renovated an old house in Artilleria and has turned it into a funky kind of hostel: Das Blauhaus.
We wandered around Valparaiso for three days taking in the sights and smells. The city has a rough edge to it. You have to get past the crumbling houses, the smell of urine and the dog shit that’s everywhere to see the heart of the city. On the surface, it looks run down, dirty and not well cared for but I think the people here are fiercely protective of their town. Recently, a large fire raged through several neighbourhoods, killing 15 people and destroying nearly 3,000 homes but, not to be defeated by this catastrophe, the people have begun rebuilding.
Murals and graffiti cover this city and added to the mish-mash of multi-coloured dwellings, they give this place its colour and charm. We enjoyed our time here. We ate some nice food, drank some great beer (Altamira), met some nice people, had a break from cycling and probably could have stayed longer but alas, our nomadic lifestyle drove us out of town and down the road. Here is a visual reportage of our time in Valpo. Click on the pic to see a larger version. There are more pictures HERE.