The day after Sewell I headed to the bus station in Santiago a little later than usual and managed to get a ticket for a bus leaving 15mins later. After 2 1/2 hours I had arrived and had checked into the hostel which was stupidly close to the bus terminal and is one of my favourites of the trip so far.

I messaged Joselyn, who took the picture I’m using at the top of this post and I included it because it’s so beautiful, and she came and me at the hostel. We jumped on a local bus and headed into the centre and started walking up one of the hills. Valparaíso is the arty town of Chile. Think Brighton/Bristol. It’s such a hub that the department for culture is based in the city. As a result the buildings and streets are covered in grafiti. There are lots of bars, coffee shops, universities, musicians and street performances. It’s a really fun place to be. You can also get the metro to some of the towns to the north, all of which have great beaches. Valpo, as it is called by the locals, is spread over many hills so if you want to walk around it’s a good place to get fit.

i tried to visit one of the cafes that had been recommended but it was closed so we went somewhere nearby and I had a local type sandwich.

Halfway up a hill we found a playground so I jumped in as that’s what all respectable adults would do.

We kept walking up the hill and reached a viewpoint which overlooked the whole of the town. The Sun was setting at this time and it cast the town in beautiful colours.

A little bit was walking a puppy so we stopped to say hello. The problem was that he wouldn’t stop moving but this photos came out okay.

After we jumped on another bus for a scenic tour of the hills. The busses drive really fast and the turns are right so it’s a bit of a ride in itself. The bus took us back to the bottom and we headed to the market but I spotted some more graffiti first.

We took a short trip through the local market where I brought some delicious cheap grapes. As usual in Chile there were cats sleeping on everything and I saw this little guy curled up in a box.

After we walked up another hill behind my hostel to watch the sunset.i didn’t take any photos as we weren’t 100% sure how safe it was to take out the camera.

I returned to the Hostel and then took a quick trip to the supermarket next door where I ended up buying a whole cooked chicken. To be honest I’d been thinking about getting one since the O Trek. It was going to be my first treat when I hit civilisation and of course there were none left. So With it being my birthday eve and all I decided to treat myself along with a 6 pack of beer.

On returning to the Hostel I met Kathi and Lucas. I ate a good proportion of my chicken and retreated to my room for Netflix. I was determined that for one year I would not be ridiculously hungover on my birthday!

I woke up early the next day for the free walking tour and was happy not to be hungover. My first win at being 37! Ouch… Kathi joined me and we walked to the meeting place where there were a lot of dog. And I mean a lot. There were loads for South America where there seems to be a stray dog for each person in every town. One to follow you around all day. This bunch were particularly vocal. The tour started and as there were only eight of us one guide took us all in English and about 10 dogs started following us, whilst simultaneously chasing bikes, barking at other dogs, cars and pretty much anything that did and didn’t move. Our guide Juan did a really good job of being heard over the noise. At one point I bend down to take the photo below and as I did my face was locked, yes by a dog, which is why it has that rustic blurry effect.

The tour encompasses lots of graffiti and views as we traversed the two main tourist hills of the town and were told a lot about the history, current events, places to visit eat and drink at. Far much more than I could ever do in the time I had in the city.

Then of course there was the slide, which I had seen the day before but this time I was determined to use. There was a whole school group that had just gone down and when I sat at the top they were all delighted and started chanting encouraging me to slide down. So I did!

After the tour a few of us decided to visit Pablo Neruda house on the hill. Pablo Neruda is a famous poet who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 he had three houses, one in Santiago, one on the Isla Negra and one here in Valparaiso. It’s an interesting house full of artefacts that show off the poets eccentric lifestyle. The house also has great views over the city.

We headed back to my hostel and Kathi and Cecilia kindly decided to join me to celebrate with some birthday drinks. We headed to a bar and ordered some Pisco Sours before heading to Ecuador Street, which is known as the street with the cheap student bars and ordered a Pisco and Sprite.

Juan form the walking tour joined us and took us to an even cheaper bar where I tried several shots and some Terremotos, which is earthquakes in Spanish because the drinks are so strong that when you stand up it feels as if there is an earthquake going on. After we headed to a club which played a mix of punk and indie music and I made my way back to the hostel at around 4am.

Let’s just say that I had a much less productive day on the day after my birthday and I managed to get out of my room at around 6pm to hunt for some pizza, which turned out to be not so great so I won’t mention the restaurant.

The next day I had arranged to meet Karla as she promised to show me some beaches that were in some of the towns to the north of Valparaiso. It was slightly daunting as she spoke no English and me very little Spanish. I went to meet her in Viña del Mar and despite the limited conversation had a really fun day.

She drove me to several beaches and we had a hot chocolate and ate some shrimp and queso empanadas. It was a good test of my Spanish and proved I knew at least something but Google Translator did get a lot of action.

I arrived back to the hostel and had a delicious burger, the restaurant attached to the hostel was actually pretty good and I had seen the food the night before. After I headed to my room and met my new room mates Sam and Jasmin who invited me out for drinks. I was hesitant to say yes after the day before but I did and we met up with some friends they had made during the day front he walking tour. There I ran into a girl I had climbed Fitz Roy with and had a good catchup. I mentioned to Jasmin about my planned hike tomorrow at La Campana and she wanted to come along. As a cat had decided to make my lap its bed we waited a while and then headed back to the hostel for an earliest night for the big hike which I’ll serial in the next post.