Passing Time near the Pacific

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
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Trip End Aug 25, 2010


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Friday, August 20, 2010

Trying to cram everything I could possibly see in Chile into my short week there, I decided to jump on the 9AM bus to Valparaíso. It'd been recommended by a number of people, but I wasn't quite sure what was there to do, so with no real plan I arrived an hour or so later.

I'd been told to check out a few things - Pablo Neruda's house, Cerro Alegre and Concepcion as well as a ride on the ascenores. I didn't have a map when I got in, but the bus station had a large map, so I found the name of a road (to give the taxi driver) near Cerro Concepcion and thought I'd find it from there. So I jump in a cab and off we go towards Cerro Concepcion, but when I got there he asked if I wanted to go up to where the good views were. "Claro." 10 minutes later we arrive at the top and I can't really see anything of interest, so when the driver asked me "mas arriba," my response again was "claro." About 20 minutes later we are quite high up and the driver stops off near the cliff edge, suggesting I take pictures of the Pacific coast. Great, I didn't really want pictures of the Pacific Coast, but I snapped a few shots anyway.

Having travelled in the (unmetered) taxi for almost 30 minutes I was getting worried about the fare. It was time to head back to where I originally wanted to go, but not knowing any road names in Valparaíso I just told the driver to take me to Neruda's house. Inevitably it was back where we were, and the driver had no intention of taking the narrow winding road back and instead asked if it was OK to go via the highway. Again, I knew he was just taking me for a ride (quite literally), but I agreed. By the time we got to Neruda's house it was almost an hour since I had got in the cab and I was scared about how much this would cost, and if I would have enough money to pay. 13000 pesos! I just about had enough and threw the money at him and rushed out.

Having spent an hour in the car and not seeing much I was keen to get out and explore the town. However, a poets house/museum isn't really my thing and I just went to the tourist information centre to collect a much needed map.

With a map in hand I followed the steep alleys down back to what seemed to be a central location, and near the ascenor that would take me up Cerro Concepcion. I ended up in a busy street and decided to get some lunch at a busy cafe. Back at the hostel I'd been told to try "chorillanas." It's a plate of chips, covered with steak and onions topped off with a fried egg. Sounds tasty, but it was far from it. The chips were undercooked, and the steak over done. The few onions that were on my plate tasted off and the egg was just about the only edible part.

After a disappointing meal I opted to walk to the last attraction on my check list, the Cerro Concepcion. Although I started from the restaurant only 5 minutes away from the ascenor it took me almost two hours before I found it. Hidden behind a construction site, I must have asked the population of Valparaíso how to get there before finding it. At one point I had even walked up there by myself and come back down without realising.

It was the worst luck I've had so far, and although there were no disasters I felt like somehow the day was a waste. I didn't get Valparaíso, there really isn't much to do but get ripped off by a taxi driver, try some horrible food and look at some coloured buildings.

Now I am back in Santiago ready for a barbecue that should hopefully compensate for today.
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