chile: part 2

this weekend, my roommates & i took a little day trip to valparaíso, a coastal city northwest of santiago.   considering we had absolutely no bus tickets or real plans when we left in the morning, i thought it was quite a successful journey! since we weren't able to buy bus tickets online beforehand without a RUT (basically a chilean ID number) we left for the bus station at 7 a.m. sunday morning crossing our fingers for available tickets. luckily, we were able to buy some at the station, with a return journey from viña del mar.  

once getting off the bus in "valpo," we wandered around for quite a while searching for some sort of commercial center, or at least a cafe with wifi so we could get our bearings. we found one in the plaza sotomayor, home to the headquarters of the chilean navy and lots of pretty monuments. 

after coffee, we took an ascensor (which cost 100 chilean pesos, which is about $0.20) up a hill called cerro alegre. the ascensor was like a diagonal elevator/dinky rollercoaster but it was super cute. and the view of the city from the top of the hill was absolutely gorgeous, with tons of tiny colorful buildings everywhere! and it was amazing how much clearer the air was there than in santiago, which is infamous for its ridiculous smog. 

walking around cerro alegre was one of my favorite parts of this trip, just because everything was so colorful and peaceful and fresh. there were artistic murals all over the walls (pretty different from all the not-so-artistic graffiti in santiago) and the view from every corner just made me so happy. it was sunday morning, so things were pretty quiet, but we did pass a few little fruit & vegetable stands and visit a precious candy store. after a super delicious and fancy lunch and a slight struggle to find our way back to the bus station, we bought bus tickets to our next destination -- isla negra. 

casa de isla negra was one of pablo neruda's homes, and it was honestly one of the most fascinating places i've ever visited. i hadn't known much about neruda or read much of his work outside of spanish classes, but my roommate hannah is a huge fan so we decided to go. isla negra is a tiny town right on the ocean, and the house itself was designed to look and feel like a boat, with curved ceilings and planked floors and figureheads from real ships making up much of the decor. unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but each item was so beautiful and representative of neruda's personality and interests. one hallway had ships in bottles set up against the windows so it looked like they were sailing, and the view from his bedroom had the most magnificent view of the sea. it was windy and cold when we visited, and i could totally see how all those crashing waves and handpicked sculptures from faraway lands could fuel creativity. 

one more slightly-sketchy bus ticket transaction later and we were back in valparaíso. by this time, it was already almost 8 p.m., so we definitely weren't going to get to the sightseeing in viña del mar that we had planned - another day! our taxi driver asked us where in viña we wanted to get dropped off, and we just said anywhere near the bus station with food, so he dropped us off at a mall with a food court for our most american meal in chile so far - pizza with coke and fries. after that, all we had was a freezing and sleepy bus ride back to our home sweet home for the summer, santiago.

<3 maria


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