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Valparaiso Walking Tour with Couch Surfing Gang

Valparaiso walking tour with Couch Surfing gang Aug 1, 2010

Valparaiso walking tour with Couch Surfing gang Aug 1, 2010

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How I love Couch Surfing! There is a friendly, lively, and wonderfully active Couch Surfing group in Valparaiso. I’ve had the pleasure of going to parties held in people’s houses almost every weekend, or going to events like the walking tour of Valparaiso held Aug 1, 2010, since arriving here in June.

What a terrific way to get to meet local people and get the inside scoop about a place.

John Guerrera sent out an invitation for a free guided walking tour of Valparaiso through the Couch Surfing website (www.couchsurfing.org). A good sized crowd (more than 15 in total, I think) showed up on Aug. 1, 2010 for the tour.

Starting with a saunter down Avenida Argentina, we quickly came to the Ascensor Polanco, one of Valparaiso’s cool old fashioned outdoor elevators, for a ride up a steep sided cerro. After walking down a long, dark, but artistically decorated tunnel we got to the elevator in the heart of the cerro. A long ride straight up landed us on the top of a tall tower offering sweeping views of the city of Valparaiso and port beyond. From up at the top it’s easy to see that Valparaiso is flanked by loads of trees and naturaleza. It’s easy to forget nature exists when at ground level in this cement city.

At least the dull grey of paved streets and urban buildings are livened up by colourful graffiti at every turn. I’ve included some pictures of some of the murals we passed while walking down the cerro after the ascensor ride, along the route to La Sebastiana (one of Pablo Neruda’s houses on Calle Ferrari), and down Calle Hector Calvo Jofre. We finished off our tour in one of the coolest little restaurants in Valparaiso that I’ve seen to date, ‘J Cruz’.

This tiny place is down a long narrow alleyway. You’d never suspect there was a restaurant at the end, let alone that so many other people had found it before our arrival, both that day and in many days in the past. The place was packed, despite the fact the streets outside were quite empty, and there was evidence of many, many past visitors who left their mark in the form of a signature on the wall or tablecloths, or with a visual stamp of a picture tacked to the wall or one of the many class cabinets lining all the walls, showcasing the kind of ornaments and characteristic decor you’d see in a typical Chilean home.

The place is famous for its ‘chorrillano’ a local favorite found in many restaurants here. It’s a mountain of fries topped with grilled bits of steak and onions. On the table was a basket of bread and the typical ‘pebre’ sauce you find everywhere here instead of butter. It’s a piquante sauce made of yellow hot peppers, onions, a bit of tomato, garlic and a few other spices and seasonings too. I am on the lookout for a good recipe to share with you. It’s delicious.

A great bunch of locals from Vina del Mar and Valparaiso showed up as well as a lot of tourists from Europe and the United States, many of them exchange students living here for a semester or two. It was a nice day, with the clouds clearing off just a few minutes before the tour started, leaving deep blue skies and a lot of sunshine to brighten our way for the rest of the afternoon tour. There’s starting to be a lot of heat in the sunshine, a sneak preview of the 8 months of summer that’s about to begin. I can’t wait.

I thoroughly enjoyed our outing and look forward to more Couch Surfing events like this one.
Kudos to the event organizers!

3 comments to Valparaiso Walking Tour with Couch Surfing Gang

  • paula

    4 of us will be in Valparaiso January 14, 2012. Can someone take us on a walking tour?

    Thanks,
    Paula

  • Hi Paula,
    Sorry I`m not in Valparaíso or Chile at the moment. I can recommend an excellent and reasonably priced biking tour (don`t worry, many routes are gentle or mostly downhill the way the guide takes you around) if you`re interested, which is another great way to see the city. Contact Eduardo Hoffman by stopping by his beautiful mansion house at Calle Montealegre 416-B, CERRO ALEGRE, Valparaíso, Chile. or emailing casalosandes at hotmail dot com.

    Alternatively, you could post a message (in spanish and english is best) to the Couch Surfing dot org group called ”Valparaiso, what a beautiful city” and see if there are any locals interested in connecting with you for a group event. It`s a super friendly, safe way to meet locals and do interesting things in Valparaiso. it`s free to join.

    Have a super trip!

  • Hey,

    There is a tip based wakling tour in Valparaiso at 10 am and 15 horas. I did it on New years and it was good.

    http://www.facebook.com/Tours4Tips

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