12th October 2015 by emmadurnford

12th October 2015

So, we’re in Valparaiso which is a UNESCO site and primarily known for its impressive street art and colourful balconied houses. We are staying in the Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion districts which are probably some of the best areas, above the port and with a lot of cafes and restaurants. The city is so steep that there are a number of ‘ascensors’ - funiculars around the city to save our knees. Initially I took quite a few photos of the street art but things started to change. We are always careful around cities and we had been concerned in Cusco and La Paz but actually these places were fine and had a great atmosphere.

However, areas near the squares and down towards the port are definitely dodgy here with ‘shady characters’ eying up my camera. Twice people came up to me to warn me to keep my camera close (it is on a Black Rapid cross the body strap) but it is obviously still a target. We were feeling more and more paranoid and tried our best not to look at the map unless we were in cafes or shops. It did not help that it was a bank holiday monday so many of the shops were closed and their corrugated metal hoardings down and covered in graffiti (not street art!). Eventually we made it to one of the main ascensors and took the rapid near vertical ascent to Paseo Gervasoni - one of the main miradors overlooking the city and port. I felt a lot safer here with families shopping and craft stalls along the walkways.

We gradually made our way back towards our apartment taking in a few more miradors but I was really relieved to return in one piece. I thought I’d google the situation to see if we were being paranoid or wary. Unknown to us prior to booking this part of the trip this is indeed a very dangerous city with very high crime rates, especially of muggings with knives. I could well have been a target but luckily got away with it on this occasion.

Initially we felt like holing ourselves up for the next day but then decided that was pretty daft. Our plan for tomorrow is NO camera (that shows how seriously I am taking this), no bags and only some money in a zipped pocket with my phone in another pocket. Gulliver the bear gets to stay safely in our apartment as he is definitely irreplaceable. We also ventured out in the evening (no bags!) and found a lovely restaurant only a very short distance from our apartment which is called ‘Vinilo’ as it plays original vinyl records complete with the clicking at the end when the disc is finished!

Although we have so many more exciting places to see, already I am missing our time in Machu Picchu (not the sandflies though), Cusco, Bolivia and San Pedro de Atacama. I may be being unfair and have formed a somewhat premature opinion but despite the fact that Chile is considerably a more wealthy country than Peru and Bolivia, it does not seem to be so friendly and at present this place is the most dangerous we have visited on this trip and thinking about it, probably on any trip abroad :-(
Take care but still enjoy it.
October 13th, 2015  
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