So this post was meant to be about the Valle de Elqui (Elqui valley) but unfortunately after booking our bus tickets to La Serena (6+ hours from Santiago, and next door to Elqui) we went to book our accommodation, and it seemed we had left it too late because there was only 4 hostels listed and all were fully booked. So we scrapped that plan (and our tickets) and decided we would go to the Valparaiso which we had heard so much about!
Valparaiso is about 2.5 hours west of Santiago on the Chilean coast. Its a stunning city built on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean, with colourful buildings built practically on-top of one-another and covered in street art.
We grabbed a taxi from the bus station which was a great call because all the streets are vertical here and I think we would have rolled back down trying to find our hostel. The first warning sign of our hostel came when we first arrived and she said 'hi Sally'… She then took us up to our 6 bed mixed dorm room where all the beds were freshly made. Whilst showing us around the hostel, things were eerily quiet- and when I said to her 'is there anyone else in our room?' Her answer with a smile was 'no'. It turns out for both nights we were there, we were the only two people staying the hostel. This didn't make things any easier when sal turned the lock nob on our door before pulling it closed only to work out when we got back that the key they gave us was only for the front door and not our room. Trying to explain what we meant to the guy on duty who spoke no English was a bit tricky…once he figured it out we could tell we were in trouble from the look on his face. He then called two other people to come back to the hostel to help figure out what key opened our door whilst continually saying ' no lock door' with an angry face.
I told them I had never stayed at a hostel where we couldn't lock our door! When the guy whipped out a drill I thought we had single handedly broken a 19th century building, but luckily the owner found the key to open the door.
We went on a tour the next morning and these are some pictures we took.
The following day we packed our things, checked out and left our bags downstairs to explore a bit more of the city before heading back to Santiago. After trying to find the bus up to the famous poet Pablo Neruda's house and failing for like an hour we decided to walk. Oh my god it was like Oxfam all over again! It's basically at the very top of Valparaiso-think vertical hill climb for a few kilometres! It is so steep that cars have to floor it to the top and the cars screech the whole way up as if at any moment it will give up and plummet to the bottom. We considered giving up on finding the house after what seemed like hours of walking but we finally saw other people (and their tour buses ofcourse) and made it to the top.
After checking out the views from Pablo's, we decided we'd walk back down again to find a jewellery store we had gone past on our tour the day before. We decided we would once again blow our budget on jewellery which we would never again find- girl you will be stoked! We also love that person selling us the jewellery makes it as well and that all the stones and copper is from Chile.
We then decided we would jump on a short boat tour to see the city from the ocean. Being a little scared for our lives, we jumped on this dodgy looking boat alone with 3 Chilean guys wondering if this was the day we would disappear. We were given very basic life vests which for some reason didn't make us feel any safer and off we went. We saw sea lions and got a great view of the city from the water and they even let us drive the boat! We're happy to say that we weren't kidnapped, but dropped back safely on land.
We would recommend anyone visiting chile to make a trip to Val, we loved it! You also have to visit this guy- he makes his own jewellery and its incredible!
We are now heading back to Santiago to stay with our friend Juncal who we met on our walking tour. She's on exchange here from Mexico and invited us to stay with her and her girlfriends in their apartment for the night before we head to Mendoza. Lucky us!