The Bus trip from Santiago to Valparaiso takes an hour and thirty six minutes, over a distance of one hundred and eleven kilometres. Coming down from the Andes Mountain range, we enter the Harbour city of Valparaiso. I have been to Valparaiso a number of times now, and its first sight never ceases to amaze me, it’s absolutely breath taking, you immediately find yourself in the bustling centre of the Harbour city, markets line the streets on the median strip dividing the roads, street vendors every few feet on the footpaths selling goods of every kind. But what actually captivates the eye, are the majestic hills the rise up around you, overlooking the Harbour, for miles the hills are dotted with houses, all climbing to the top, houses built upon houses, what is most spectacular is that the houses are all painted in a myriad of flamboyant colours, most are adorned with vibrant colourful artwork. The downside to this beautiful panorama is that they are subject to fires, which occur frequently, the streets are so narrow and spread throughout the hills, that emergency services have trouble responding quickly, a recent fire wiped out many streets and houses. Not only that, but with Earthquake activity, rock falls are common.
Valparaíso is a World renowned port city on Chile’s coast. It’s known for its steep funiculars and colourful, cliff top homes. La Sebastiana, the quirky former residence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, is now a museum with far-reaching Pacific views. During the 19th century, an influx of European immigrants left their mark on the city’s architecture and cultural institutions, many of which congregate around the downtown’s Plaza Sotomayor.
It was New Years Eve 2015, we had been invited to share the New Years Eve with a friend of the family,our friend’s home was on top of one of the highest hills, with a panoramic view over Valparaiso right out to the Harbour. This was to be a memorable occasion, apart from enjoying the Chilean Culture and Cuisine and good company, we had been invited to view the New Years Fireworks display, and this display is considered one of the best Fireworks displays throughout the world.
Dusk settled over Valparaiso and, a million lights illuminated the city of 249 thousand people, as night closed in, the Ships in the Harbour were ablaze with lights, and the Harbour waters shimmered like a scattering of millions of tiny Diamonds. Then the Fireworks began, right along the coastline for miles as far as the eye could see, all synchronized, the complete Harbour broke into a Fairyland world of colour, the colours illuminated Valparaiso, a veritable Kaleidoscope of fantasy. The Fireworks continued for thirty minutes, it was unbelievable to imagine that they were all in accord, and spread the entire length of the Valparaiso regional coast line. As the Fireworks closed the New Year celebrations, we adjourned to the dining room to enjoy a delectable array of Chilean Cuisine, beautifully presented with a great selection of accompanying drinks, one of which I have a great fondness for, the Chilean Pisco Sour.
The next two days became an adventure on its own, but then every day in Chile is an adventure, via car we were to travel off the normal tourist tracks, and tour the small streets and alleys of the Houses high up on the hill tops, narrow cobblestoned roads with colourful houses rising beside you, houses on houses all individually different, and all displaying the beautiful artwork that Valparaiso is renowned for, originally known as Graffiti, this artwork has become internationally known, and Artists are invited from around the world to add their works to the architecturally diverse buildings of Valparaiso. I started to photograph the houses to capture their Colour and individuality, till I realized it was an exercise in futility, each house was like a piece of a jigsaw, each street formed a portion of a jigsaw and the complete jigsaw was an amazing overview of the colourful, vibrant and intoxicating city of Valparaiso.
I share with you these pictures of Valparaiso from the hills and streets, my next post will show you this 19th Century City from the Harbour.
Best wishes and kind regards.
Aussie Emu aka Ian