What a bunch of Wallys
Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
47Trip End Nov 29, 2014
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Nine hours ticked by between our plane leaving the tarmac on Rapa Nui and our heads resting on fluffy, enticing pillows in Valparaiso. The clock approached 1am as we disembarked our bus and as no accommodation had been arranged, we scuttled into the first semi-safe looking hostel.
Rising the next morning to the din of the city was a sharp reminder that we weren't in the hinterland anymore. Coming from the halcyon Easter Island and after spending so much time in Patagonia, we found Valparaiso's air pollution, crass noises and ugly architecture fairly underwhelming. Nonetheless, as we'd met so many people who'd sung the praises of this little port town, we wanted to give the place a chance.
Valparaiso is an art-ridden, kaleidoscopical city of colour
Arriving in Valparaiso meant that we'd reunite with friends, Hidde and Per, while on the downside our tent would become redundant for a few days as we dipped our toes back into hostel life. Since buying our tent 2 months ago, we've grown accustomed to the small space granted within it's thin walls, and hostels have become a tiresome experience. This particular hostel owner was an interesting fellow, the kind of guy that loved to prolong a conversation no mater how awkward it is.
Imagine Col. Hans Landa, Christoph Waltz's sinister character from 'Inglorious Basterds', entwined with the Demon Headmaster, from the 1990s children's tv show. "What's your project today?", was Demon Hans' opening gambit each morning, leering over his glasses as we sat round the breakfast table. Picturing that setting still makes me shudder; his shrilly vocals penetrating in a soft, creepy manner as I slurped on my coffee, aimlessly playing on my phone to avoid his gaze
It seemed to me that he was more concerned with disturbing his guests with awkward chit-chat, than ensuring there was amble coffee on the breakfast table. It didn't help matters that Tasha consumes morning coffees at an alarming rate and doesn't tolerate a hostel that fails to speedily replenish the coffee. The scrambled eggs were cold too. At first, we put it down to a mistake, but when, on the 2nd and 3rd mornings, the scrambled eggs arrived with goosebumps on, we began to see a pattern emerging. Who eats eggs cold, were these guys having a yolk? All jokes aside, you can't trust someone who serves their scrambled eggs chilled.
To escape his creepy advances, we headed to town for the 'Where's Wally Walking Tour'. Yeah, you read that correctly. This is a walking tour of the city led by a bunch of locals dressed up as the evasive, bespectacled, red and white stripped wanderer from those children's book. The four of us were a little worse for wear after a few too many scoops the night before, so joined the 3pm tour after the joyless eggs had settled in our stomachs.
There's no denying that we saw parts of the city that we wouldn't have otherwise, but what's on offer is hardly profound
For every inventively etched piece of street art, there was a cue of buses spurting out heinous fumes a few feet away. The viewpoints looked out onto a crowed harbour where frightful cranes crammed ships with huge cargo, while the smog that hangs over the city blemished the skyline, diluting what was once, I'm told, a breathtaking, inspirational sight pre-pollution. If the Wallys had condensed the tour into 60 minutes, instead of the 3 hours, it may have been more enjoyable. As we were only required to contribute a small tip we weren't really in a position to whine. Maybe we should have devoured a satisfying breakfast; it's Demon Hans' fault...
Admittedly, this post has been a bit of a grumble and reads more like a Karl Pilkington travel blog. I shoot from the hip, with both barrels, guilty. We've got a few leftover Argentine Peso, next stop, Mendoza. Hopefully the 'el vino' will flow.