I mentioned before that there were a lot of hills here which makes it a little more difficult to get around. There could be more, but so far I have counted 41 hills (or as we call them “cerros”) in Valparaíso alone. Living in flat Indiana, the cerros feel more like mini mountains to me. The views at the top though are simply breathtaking, well they would be if you had any breath to be taken. Exhausting, but SO worth it.
If hiking is not for you or if you wanna just try something new, hand over 300 pesos and you can take a ride on one of the “ascensores”. Apparently that means funicular in English, but I guess I just haven’t played enough Scrabble to learn that one… Anyway, there are sixteen spread throughout the cerros and those ascensores are part of the reason why Valparaíso is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not all of them are working, but they were built between 1886 and 1916. Considering their age and the fact that three mega earthquakes have rocked their worlds, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.
Yesterday for my Chilean culture class we took a little field trip and rode the ascensor at the cerro closest to the port. At the top we looked out into the port and saw all of Valparaíso below us. My professor explained that right where we were standing was one of the few places in Chile where you could look straight ahead and see both the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. We were especially lucky too because the day was gorgeous and sunny which meant no fog or clouds. We could see standing tall in the distance the highest mountain in the Americas, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina which is 22,841 feet.
Yesterday we also visited the first stock exchange, the first naval academy, the first bank, and the first newspaper of Chile. It felt like we were walking down a street in London because of all of the architecture. The English after all settled Valparaíso during the gold exploits in the days before the Panama Canal was cut. This portion of the city was the foundation and the beginning of it all.
*I didn’t bring my camera on our little jaunt, but I’m going back to visit the naval museum with some friends next week. I promise to take pictures then!!