Harbour in Valparaiso.

     Valparaiso or in other words va al paraiso. In Spanish that means “go to paradise.” This name originated few centuries ago when the Panama Channel was not yet built and the only way to the western coast of South America was around Cape Horn. After months of travel reaching the final destination was like a paradise!

     Today Valparaiso is a big harbour city. With its few hundred thousand inhabitants it is among the largest cities in Chile. From the viewpoint that is located on a hill you can see thousands of containers from all around the world being loaded and unloaded from enormous cargo ships. All getting ready for a long course over the oceans.

     Luckily Valparaiso has more to offer than only a big port. There is an old district with hundred-year old carrier elevators, steep streets, colourful, wooden houses in which the workers lived at times when the port was not yet fully automated. This Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2003. It’s worth wondering around there for a while to see the decorated houses and to feel the atmosphere of the place. Numerous small bars and restaurants offering food from different parts of the world will make the visit even more enjoyable. We stopped at one to have a sushi and it was absolutely delicious!

     Our visit to Valparaiso was a brief one as we spent just two days and one evening there. We liked the place. It was to great extent thanks to Cristian who hosted us and showed us around. During the time spent together we talked about our countries and what connotations we have with them. And Cristian surprised us with a story about the Polish Pope. He said that Chileans have very positive memories connected with John Paul II who came to Chile with an official visit in 1987 (it was during the time of Pinochet’s dictatorship). Some believe that this visit was one of the triggers for the changes that happened in Chile later on.

     There is another thing worth doing when in Valparaiso. If you have an opportunity, go after dark to any hill – or onto a roof of a high apartment building as we did – to see the panoramic view of the city and the port at night. Simply beautiful!