Valparaiso is good for your health. Not only did I walk up and down several steep hills today, but I enjoyed the scenery along the way. I started my day by walking around my cerro (hill), Cerro Bellavista, for these couple of days, including a stroll through the Museo a Cielo Abierto, an outdoor museum consisting of murals painted by students in the early 70s.
I continued on through the flat El Plan neighborhood, strolling past the usual: churches, buildings, dogs.
I then took the oldest ascensor (elevator/cable car) up to Cerros Concepcion & Alegre. Built in 1883, it was a rather steep, but seemingly safe ride up.
I strolled. And then strolled some more.
On the advice of Lonely Planet, I then tried to follow my map to Cerro Miraflores to get a view from Plaza Bismark. I chose the wrong street to climb. I discovered this when a man washing his car near the top of the hill informed me there was no way through. Back down I went. And then up I went on the correct street. Turns out the view was worth it.
After all that ascent, I went down and found another ascensor to take me back to the top of Cerro Alegre for lunch. Along the way, I went over Cerro Carcel, which houses a prison which closed in 1999. The grounds are now home to a cultural center. They’ve also done some beautiful landscaping. Not a bad way to reform.
I also spotted the Painted Ladies’ cousins and stopped to consult my map in a lovely little park.
After lunch, I, guess what? I strolled some more and then stopped at Paseo Atkinson to sit on a park bench and read – clearly I had many important things to do today.*
After such a sufficient rest, I decided to head toward Cerro Cordillera for another view recommended by LP. The ascensor was closed or broken or who-knows-what, so I took these stairs. Each set was approximately 35 stairs, so that was at least 150 stairs. Fun.
And then I got to the top and the park with the view was gated and locked. Awesome. I went back down the hill via some different stairs and landed in El Puerto, the port neighborhood. Gritty, smelly and full of characters with whom I didn’t want to interact, I strolled a bit quick on out of there.
I passed through Plaza Sotomayor, proud owner of the Naval Command Building and the Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique.
Next up I wanted to go over to Cerro Baron to get a view of many of Valparaiso’s hills. I took the metro which runs along the water (thanks to my hotel for handing over one of the metro cards, which you normally have to buy for $5 and then fill with your fare). Upon arriving, I walked to the ascensor – also closed or broken or who-knows-what. Oh well. I decided to just walk back, given all the new-found free time.
I ended my exploration by taking the hundreds of stairs back up to my hotel. And then I sat on the roof and read in the fading sunlight.** Days like today are why I don’t get homesick.
*I really don’t want to come home in 6 weeks and look for a job. This is all just too fun.
**This picture is from last night, but you get the idea.