Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Valparaíso and the Pacific Ocean

We heard good things about Valparaíso so continued west another 140kms. It's a picturesque city embedded in the side of hills on the coast and sort of remined me of southern Italy with colourful houses stacked on a series of ridges.
Not to start a theme to this blog but the first thing you notice is stray malnourished dogs wandering around everywhere or just laying in the shade lifeless and dejected but thankfully no 'poo' problem a la Buenos Aires. The second thing you notice is anything on the map not near the coast is a serious uphill hike but luckily they have funiculars or taxis if your feeling lazy.
We hadn't eaten that well for a few days so were asking locals to recommend restaurants but they kept directing us to american diner style places that looked really awful. A lot of people were tucking into massive plates of french fries covered with fried onions, covered with fried eggs, crowned with fried meat (These peeps need to watch 'Supersize Me'). Luckily (thanks to frommers.com) we eventually found a gem of a place called 'Pasta e Vino' on Templeman Street in the historic district and it was superb.
The famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda used to live here and they've converted his house (which is beautifully decorated) into a really cool museum called 'La Sebastiana' where you can get a good insight into his life and which is one of the most visited attractions here.
The following day we visited the coastal town of Viña del Mar which has a nice beach and is 9kms north of Valparaíso. There's not much interest in rugby in Chile and we missed the Pumas impressively beat France (for the second time) to secure third place but we found an obliging bar tender who set us up to watch South Africa beat England in the world cup final. He recounted the tale of two Irish lads that drank the bar dry three years earlier so I put his mind at rest, I wouldn't be attempting a repeat at least not pre-meditated.
Sunset on the beach with a beer & then some fresh fish, capped off a pretty good day before we jumped on a 10pm bus for the 8 hour trip back to Mendoza.


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