Stairs and Funiculars, Chile

So, when I say that almost every flat surface in Valparaiso was covered in grafitti or art, I bet stairways were not the first things to pop into your head.  But what are staircases if not a collection of small flat surfaces.  So I’m gonna take a minute to talk about our very real life version of ‘chutes and ladders’… stairs and funiculars.
Valparaiso is built onto the sides of large hills.  Starting at the Pacific ocean, the city shoots skyward, which makes for dramatic and beautiful views.  But it also makes for tired legs if you’re walking up those hills all day.  Luckily, the UNESCO protected funiculars can zip you up the hill for a tiny fee.  The most expensive is about 50 cents US. And because they are UNESCO protected sites, it’s ‘exploring the cultural heritage of the city’ and not ‘being lazy.’

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One the greatest thing about the funiculars (other than how easy they made the hills) was the view you go as you were going up.

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Ascensor Concepcion was conveniently located between my hostel, and the areas that I spent the most time in, so I ended up using it quite a bit.  It took me awhile to find it, because it was located between two big buildings on a busy main street, and only marked by a small sign.

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Which was actually pretty normal for most of the funiculars in Valpo.

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Another popular funicular ended at the door of a phenomenal brewpub.  I was a bit nervous to go at first, because brewpubs and budget travel rarely fit into the same blog entry.  But Altamira Brewpub was wonderful, and really reasonably priced.  The beer was great, and the food was really good as well.  All in all, well worth the money spent, and I went back a few more times.

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One thing I didn’t like about the funiculars was that they went up really high, and even though I’m not usually afraid of heights, something about them made me very uneasy.  I think because my head equated ‘historic’ with ‘old and rickety.’ Which was silly, because they are of course 100% safe. But I didn’t look down more than once.

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The funiculars were fun and really helpful, but I was more interested in the stairs.  Not to walk up, but they were really neat to look at.  The two main types of stair art were, mosaic:

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or painted:

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BONUS!

Santiago also has a funicular! Cerro San Cristobal is a large hill in the middle of the city.  It is a big park, with a ton of greenspace to relax.  In addition to a park, playground, and zoo- it’s also home to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary.  It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to walk up, or if you don’t have a lot of time, you can take the funicular up through the forest overlooking the city, and then walk down.

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And when you get to the top, you can get a close up look at the Virgin Mother protecting the city.

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EXTRA BONUS! FLOWER PICTURES!!

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