For some reason I like this piece of graffiti-art.
I got a late start today, mostly because I was dreading the hills that awaited me. Also, my feet were sore and tired and I didn’t have a lot on my travel agenda today. When I did leave – after another nice breakfast and conversation with the hostel owner – I decided to walk across town and up Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Allegre. There wasn’t anything in particular there that I wanted to visit, but I knew I’d have enough to keep me busy for much of the day, even if it simply meant wandering around the steep, windy, colorful streets of both hills.
I had a hard time reading my map – I always have a hard time reading maps, actually – and walked up the wrong set of stairs twice. The first time was fine, as I was still quite fresh and the staircase happened to be the oldest in Valparaiso, but the second time it wasn’t as fun.
Want to get in shape? Try running this a few times a day.
Looking down the stairs is like peering over a cliff.
The third time it worked out for me, which is good because I'd gotten tired by the time I reached the top. Actually, there’s really no “top” to these hills – they seem never-ending. But I did get to the top of the area I wanted to visit, and that was an accomplishment in itself. Once there, I wandered around looking at the various churches, brightly colored houses, museums, galleries, cafés, and vista points. And trying to play with the many stray cats in the neighborhood that were sleeping in the sun.
There was puppet theater in this tiny park. But the puppets and equipment were sitting there unattended. Maybe it was an installation...
At one point I stopped in a café called Café Con Letras (Almirante Montt 316; Tel: 223-5480) to get water and coffee, and while there I observed an older Japanese couple having difficulty setting up their camera to take a picture of themselves.
This is a terrible photo of the café. And I forgot to take a photo of its exterior as well as of my drink (big loss, I know).
So in Japanese I asked if they would like me to take their photo, which startled them. They invited me to sit at their table, and then we spoke together for about half an hour. It was nice talking to them. They were from Chiba prefecture but were living in Honduras, where they volunteer as education specialists with a focus on physical rehabilitation for handicapped children. They said that Honduras was very unsafe and they couldn’t stay out at night, so they were pleased to be in Chile where safety isn’t such a worry. They were heading to Argentina tomorrow and would try to go to Mexico after that. It seemed that our Spanish was equally bad, and for our simple topics of conversation my Japanese sufficed. We wished each other well on our respective trips, and then I bid them adios and continued with my walk.
At around 2 p.m. I realized that I was going to need some lunch, so I decided to head back toward Playa Ancha and grab a sandwich somewhere. I ended up going to El Sandwich Cubano and having the restaurant’s namesake sandwich (2100 pesos, or ~$4.25).
There wasn’t much to it, but the Cuban owner was nice to me and spoke perfect English, plus the Cuban tunes she was playing were nice to get lost in while I ate.
It looks grosser than it tasted. It was good, but there was way too much bread in this sandwich.
After finishing my lunch I continued on my way, and by a little after 3:00 I was back in the hostel, where I changed out of my sweaty clothes.
As usual, during my walk I came upon a good deal of “urban art” – I’m not sure what else to call the colorful pictures one finds on the sides of buildings and houses and walls all over – and am including a sample of what I found today. Much of it was located in Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Allegre.
When dinnertime rolled around, I didn’t feel like going terribly far, so I walked to the stairs at the edge of Playa Ancha and descended them partway to eat at one of the closest places available: Calfulafquen.
There's a very nice restaurant in that old, beaten-down blue house.
The waiter was quite nice and spoke English very well, and he helped me choose a dish of merluza, with a white sauce containing mushrooms and spinach, and a side of pureed potatoes.
The presentation was a bit lacking. There's a sea of pureed potatoes there. Or more like a flood.
I’ve definitely had better meals in Chile, but the ambience of the restaurant – you can see the entire bay from your table, not to mention the old yellow ascensions (hill elevators, basically) – combined with the hospitality of the waiter – he gave me a free pisco sour before my meal and then a free iced manzanilla afterward – was worth it.
That yellow box at the top of the hill is one of the "hill elevators," as I call them (wrongly, I'm sure).
My meal came to 12,500 pesos (~$25) with tip included. Calfulafquen is at Sub. Artilleria # 166, Paseo 21 de Mayo. Tel: 321-4130. Web: www.calfulafquen.cl.