Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday 5th January

A lovely breakfast with...wait for it...real Earl Gray Tea was a brilliant start to the day. The hotel is a treat to ourselves after slumming it up in Atacarma for the last week. A beautifully restored late 19th century merchant's house; it has a wonderful view over Valparaiso harbour (always useful for watching your investment sailing home). Valpo is an interesting city - very bohemian, sometimes sliding into downright scruffy. Very different from clean, efficient and professional Santiago. The steep hills which fall into the sea are terraced with small brightly painted corrugated iron houses. They have elaborately carved wood or wrought iron balconies, sometimes held up by little more than blind faith. Steep steps connect the winding streets, or in the near vertical places 19th century ascenseurs (cablecars).

Since today is a day for culture (i.e. not shovelling the truck out again) we hit the art galleries in the old town, after a gratuitous ascenseur ride. Lots of interesting stuff in a wide variety of styles and prices. We also walked on up to see La Sebastiana; Pabulo Neruda's house, which was a fascinatingly eclectic collection put together by the poet/bon-viveur & politician. It included a carousel horse, Tsar Nicholas' wine glasses, port holes for windows, musical boxes, victorian sanitary-ware and various other oddities.

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