Valparaiso – walking up and down a city-scaled museum

Valparaiso is located on the South Pacific coast, about 2 hrs away from Santiago de Chile. It used to be one of the main ports in the Pacific, but the opening of the Panama Canal affected the economy of the city. Nonetheless, the city continues to be one of the most important seaports in the South Pacific, as well as a flourishing cultural and educational center.

During its golden age it was known as “Little San Francisco” and “the jewel of the Pacific”. The beautiful buildings in the city center and the imposing constructions in the port stand as a testimony of that period, fact which included the historic quarters in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Valparaiso - historiric quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Fine Arts Museum

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Fine Arts Museum

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso - historic quarter

Valparaiso spreads around steep hillsides. If you are not willing to take the stairs, you can try the 26 functional funiculars. But some of the stair streets will definitely worth the effort.

Valparaiso funiculars

Source: moon.com

Valparaiso funicular Ascensor

Source: http://www.mackeyinc.com The Artilleria funicular has been serving the city since 1893

Or why not slide down?

Valparaiso sled

In the last years artists have been taking over Valparaiso, transforming a decaying city into a vibrant and colorful destination. You can wonder the streets for hours, getting lost in the chaotic maze and discovering enchanting details at every corner. It feels like a spell has been put over the city, giving the houses a life of their own.

As is the case of many other cities, street art becomes a mean of talking about important issues, such as multiculturalism, ethnicity, human rights or the environment, not just a way of creating beautiful images.

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

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Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

Valparaiso street art

While here, you can also visit Pablo Neruda`s home, La Sebastiana. The poet dedicated an ode to the city that inspired him. The Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Naval Museum and the Cultural Park  are also worth a visit. The Cultural Park was built on the site of a former prison.

Valparaiso Cultural Park

Source: http://www.plataformaarquitectura.cl – Cultural Park

Valparaiso Cultural Park

Source: radio.uchile.cl – Cultural Park

Even though I consider the old city an enormous open air museum, just one part of the center is considered one.

Valparaiso open air museum

Source: redbellavista-v-region.blogspot.com  – Open air museum

Valparaiso open air museum

Source: http://www.juntoalbarrio.cl – Open air museum

As one might expect, most restaurants serve fish dishes and sea food. Surprisingly, the city is associated with another typical Chilean dish: the chorillana. The city takes proud in having the best chorillana in the country.

To sum up, if you have a few days in Santiago, Valparaiso is a must-see destination that will take you out of this world.

 

Must try in Argentina

MATE

Mate is a plant that grows in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and some parts of Brazil. It is the source of the famous mate beverage. Even though it is called “yerba mate” the plant grows into a tree that can reach up to 15 m.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: en.wikipedia.org

The plant has an energetic effect similar to coffee, and it is rich in antioxidants and iron. Just like coffee it can be addictive. Usually people in Argentina have mate at least once a day, especially in the morning.

Source: noti-rio.com.ar

Source: noti-rio.com.ar

The dry herb, sometimes mixed with other herbs such as mint, is placed into a recipient called mate. It can have many shapes and it can be made of wood, leather, plastic, metal or even sylicone.

A metal pipe is inserted. After hot water is poured inside, the pipe allows you to drink the infusion while filtering the herbs. This procedure is repeated several times, depending on the cuantity and the cuality of the herbs. Sometimes people add sugar if the herbs are bitter.

There is a philosophy of sharing behind this ritual. All people have to drink from the same envase, so you have to wait for the other person to finish before you can drink. There’s either only one person that poures the hot water for everyone, or the person who finished prepares the drink for the next person. Even nowadays people gather to enjoy mate, in parks or plazas.

Useful tip: If someone offers mate you say thank you only when you’re done and not each time you drink the infusion.

DULCE DE LECHE

The dulce de leche tastes similar to caramel. It is made by slowly heating sweetened milk. You can also buy it in Brazil or Chile, but I prefer the one made in Argentina or Uruguay.

It is served with pancakes, cakes, chocolate, biscuits … practically anything sweet and it tastes delicious.

Source: razafolklorica.com

Source: razafolklorica.com

ALFAJORES

The phrase that best describes this dessert is cookie sandwich. An alfajor is made of two round biscuits joined by a dulce de leche or jam filling, usually covered in dark or white chocolate. You can try the home-baked alfajores ones or the you can buy them in the regular stores, where you can purchase the ones produced by Milka or Oreo.

EMPANADAS

Empanadas are made by folding a piece of  dough or bread around the stuffing. The empanadas can either be fried or baked  the  that can be fille with cheese, ham, vegetables or fruits.

They are ideal for a quick snack, especially since you can find them at every street corner.

 BARBEQUE – “parilla” or “asado”

The fact that the argentine beef is famous all around the world is no coincidence. However, in Argentina you can find all sorts of meet in any restaurant and everywhere around town at cheap prices.

In my country we often eat beef and saussages, but the ones I`ve tried there were, in fact, a lot better.

WINE

The wine in Argentina is also world – renowned, especially the one from Mendoza. However, chileans claim that their wine is better and, sadly, I have to agree. Argentina began to export wine only after 1990, but it is now the 5th producer in the world.

FERNET

This black, bitter beverage is a liquor made of herbs and it is very popular in Argentina. Every bar in the country sells fernet. The most famous brand is Fernet Branca. Usually the drink is mixed with Coca-Cola or soda beverages, but some people prefer it plain.

Things to do in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is a huge city and I only had a few days to know it. These are some of the things I thing you shouldn’t miss in this city:

A. Streets and neighbourhoods

1. Avenida Paulista

I’ve never been to the US, but this avenue resembles a lot the images I’ve seen in movies. This boulevard is very long, there are three metro stations along it. Don’ forget to go for a drink on Augusta, the street perpendicular to Paulista.

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2. Vila Madalena

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Nice houses, workshops, art galleries, bars and restaurants and amazing street art. A must see!

3. Liberdade

This is the asian neighbourhood. It’s like entering a different world. All the signs are written in asian and latin characters. Check out the stores, you’ll find interesting items to try.

photo credits: discoverynikkei.org

photo credits: discoverynikkei.org

4. Ibirapuera Park

I think it’s best to go here during the week-.end, it’s full of people. It’s a great idea to have a picnic here. There are many pavilions, auditoriums and museums within it. The Afro-Brazil Museum is very interesting and it’s free of charge. Also, Niemeyer’s Auditorium is worth seeing.

Fred Finstone's car in front of the canopy

Fred Flinstone’s car in front of the canopy

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Oscar Niemeyer - Ibirapuera Auditorium

Oscar Niemeyer – Ibirapuera Auditorium

B. Fairs

5. Antiques  Fair on Sundays – under and across the street from MASP.

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6. Benedito-Calixta fair in Vila Magdalena every Saturday – antiques, clothes, bahian food, good music and toys (including Kinder Surprise and Happy Meal).

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7. Municipal Market

The inside reminded me of the turkish bazare. Try the exotic fruits and flavors!

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C. Culture

8. MASP – free on Tuedays

This is a must see for the art lovers. After visiting the greatest art museums in Europe I wasn’t expecting much of it, but I was surprised to discover great works of art, especially impressionist paintings. The museum is located on Paulista and it was designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

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9. Ipiranga Museum

I couldn’t get inside because they are restoring it, but the building reminded me of a french palace. The gardens in front of it and the park behind are very nice. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

10. Latin American Memorial – Oscar Niemeyer

It has a library and some galleries. It is located further from the center, but if you have more time it’s worth seeing!

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11. Sao Paulo Cultural Center

It was closed because I arrived there right after the New Year, but there many people hanging out or practicing choreography, break-dance and skateboarding. This is the first building with a green roof that I see. You can walk on the green terrace and enjoy the view.

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12. Teatro Municipal

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A beautiful building. If you’re in the neighbourhood check out

13. Edificio Copan – Oscar Niemeyer

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D. PANORAMAS

14. Banespa Building

The line will take for about 2 hrs, but the view from the building is worth it! Plus everything is free! Don’t forget to bring your ID!

endless city

endless city

15. Skye Bar&Restaurant

This is one of the hidden places in Sao Paulo, I think few paulistas have seen it. Get up there and enjoy the magic view! Don’t order anything, it’s very expensive. I couldn’t take a decent picture with my camera, so I borrowed one.

Bar-Skye

photo credits: localnomad.com

Mission

After graduating I decided to take a year off to travel the world. I chose to go to South America because I knew it was the kind of thing you would do at a crazy age and that in a few years I probably wouldn`t have the courage to take this step. Because I don`t have a lot of money, I will try to work at hostels along the way. My journey will start in Brazil and If everything goes well I will continue to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile. Columbia and Venezuela. It`s not a strict plan, so I`ll just see how things go.