“Valparaíso is a kaleidoscope,
An upside down shipwreck
Valparaíso is a scaffold in the wind
a labyrinth of colors.
Valparaíso is stairs that climb to the sky,
lifts that pass between gardens of houses…
a beautiful and chaotic disorder”
When I think of Chile, my mind immediately jumps to the sweeping landscapes of Patagonia, the explosive volcanos spread across the country and the mystical Andes mountains. My mind does not immediately go to beautiful street art and urban settings. After my visit to Valparaíso, my mind has been changed.
Since its birth as Chile’s second largest city, Valparaíso has been primarily a seaport city, and with that, the normal underbelly of such cities bred an environment for color, culture and art. Until the opening of the Panama Cannel in 1914, Valparaíso remained a wealthy city and relevant to the global shipping market. Rumor has it that the drunken sailors are to thank for the beautiful colors of Valparaíso.
1. The first rumor suggests that the sailors painted their boats and houses the same color, so after long trips at sea, or late nights in the bar, they could easily find their way home. This method might have worked for a few years, but the explosive organic growth of the city (seriously, look at this map!), and the amount of color makes me question how effective this method truly was.
2. The second rumor humors my romantic side. Apparently, the sailors painted their boats and homes the same color so their wives could see them entering the harbor.
There are official reasons for why Valparaiso is so colorful, but I like the rumors better.
After becoming a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 2003, Valparaíso added a new specialty to its resume: tourism. There is so much to do in this “Little San Francisco.”
Affordable Lodging: We stayed at Costa Azul. Seriously, best breakfast around and the owners are unbelievably wonderful. The TripAdvisor reviews do not exaggerate, Nina and Luca are really that awesome!
Valparaíso immediately felt like home and reminded me of the Haight. My one note of precaution, there are SO many stray dogs in Valparaíso and with that comes an endless chorus of barking, and well, dog poop. So, I know its tempting to always be looking up while visiting Valparaíso, but it also benefits you to look down…
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