Hello from Valparaiso on the Pacific coast of Chile.
This is a city that has seen it all. Ridiculous prosperity in the early 20th century, when the “jewel of the Pacific” was one of the world’s leading ports, followed by a precipitous decline after the Panama Canal opened.
Today, the city’s claim to fame is Tomas Slavik’s mountain bike run down to the ocean, captured by drones. Don’t watch it after more than one cup of coffee, or you might jump out of your chair.
We never expected to be here for the holidays. But here we are. All of which brings us to this week’s question: What’s the strangest place you’ve traveled to for the festive season?
OK, let’s break out the photos of this week’s adventure. First, Valparaiso in 1910. Just four years later, the Panama Canal reduced this lively city to a ghost town.
Today, Valparaiso is still a little run down. The walls of homes are covered in graffiti. But some of the street art is noteworthy.
You can find an authentic Moai statue from Easter Island in town. It’s probably just a matter of time before the Rapa Nui demand its return.
Valparaiso is built on a steep hill, so you’ll find several funiculars that take you to the top. Many of these elevators are abandoned today, but our guide told us that they plan to restore them soon. I guess they want to put the “fun” back into their funiculars. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Valparaiso is worth a day trip, but we’re happy we selected Santiago as our home base for the next few weeks.
Please don’t forget this week’s question: Where’s the most unusual place you’ve traveled to for the winter holidays? We’ll read your comments in our next podcast.