Our final stop in Chile was the beautiful coastal city of Valparaiso. Valparaiso is about 100 km northwest of Santiago. We decided to rent a car and make the 2 hour trip to the city.
Valparaíso played a very important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. The city lost its status as a major stopover for these ships with the arrival of the Panama Canal.
Though nearby San Antonio has become the country’s most commercially viable seaport, the port of Valparaíso continues to be a major attraction among tourists. It was declared as a UNESCO heritage site in 2003.
After grabbing lunch in the dangerous part of the town (which we learnt about later during the day), we headed over to the city center to meet up with our tour guide, Felipe.
As with any other city tour, we saw multiple government institutions, monuments, churches, and cultural establishments during the 3 hour tour. Four things that stood out about the city – stray dogs (the city is full of them), graffiti (there are beautiful murals all over the city), vehiculars (the city officially has 27 out of which only 7 are functional today), and the terrain (very similar to San Francisco).
After grabbing some vegetarian empanadas, we ended the trip at the port of Valparaiso.
Upon arriving at the hotel in Santiago, we walked to a local mall nearby for dinner. As much as we “wanted” to eat local food, once we stumbled upon Taco Bell, there was no turning back!!
We ended the night playing Euchre with a deck of Chilean cards in our business executive suite (yes we had a conference room in our hotel room).