Tuesday, December 6th 2005

Before I headed towards northern Chile I spent a day in Valparaíso. On a blazing hot morning I got the bus there from Santiago and spent a fantastic day wandering around its colourful streets. I've rarely been to a city so atmospheric as this one, and I felt that the air was somehow heavy with history. The city sprawls over cliffs which rise incredibly steeply from the ocean, so steeply in fact that roads are often impossible and the only way to ascend is via clanking miniature funicular railways a hundred years old that feel like they might crash back down to sea level at any moment as they laboriously climb to the heights. I wound my way from one end of the city to the other, alternately ascending and descending. Up high it was quiet and serene; down low it was loud and active and a little bit hostile.

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