Although I had never heard of Valparaiso until last week, it has quickly became one of my all-time favorite cities in South America. Visiting Chile in the dead of winter actually gave me a unique local experience that is hard to find during the summer flock of tourists. As I took in the view from my hostel nestled atop of a hill overlooking the city, I couldn’t help but think of Brooklyn, especially with worn-in shoes decorating the phone lines.
First up on the agenda was a little boat tour around Valparaiso at night. Other than the spectacular view of the city in the distance, the real highlight for me was getting some up-close and personal interaction with a family of walruses. Apparently, despite their heavy weight, these animals are able to leap out of the water and onto the buoys in the water. Not even three trips to SeaWorld Orlando has gotten me this close to the walruses!
Probably the thing I loved most about Valparaiso was the extensive collection of street art throughout the city. Although more well-known cities like London, Paris and Berlin may get more attention, Valparaiso is high on my list of must-see graffiti around the world. A local I met on my last day said that graffiti art is just something a lot of people here do in their spare time and that it has become a central part of the local culture.
Sometimes you stumble upon the best parts of a city just from wandering around. On our way back to our hostel we heard some music coming from a local library. Once inside, we discovered that there was an impromptu musical performance going on. The band performed a compilation of popular Bossa nova style songs from famous Brazilian singers like Joao Gilberto, his daughter Bebel Gilberto and Tom Jobin. This library itself is a local hangout and houses documents, books all about the socialism of Chile.