Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Valparaíso - week one (May 5th - 10th, 2013)

We planned to start our stay in South America by refreshing our Spanish know-how. As we were worried about smog in Santiago, we decided to take our Spanish course at Valparaíso.

On Sunday afternoon we took our first bus in South America. The buses in Chile are very comfortable and well organized. The security of the baggage is assured by a very simple approach. You are allowed to load your baggage into the bottom of the bus at the first station and unload it only at the last station. If you are getting on/off in the middle of the ride, you have to take your baggage into the cabin. In addition, you will get a ticket, which you need to present to get your bag back.

The Valparaíso micro-bus system immediately reminded me of the system in Tomsk. The buses run along defined lines that are nowhere described. Only some bus stops are marked, but the bus can stop anywhere. You just ask the fellow passenger who happily advises you how to go and where to get off. Using the Russian know-how, we easily got to the Plaza Sotomayor and found our hostel, where we were warmly welcomed by Tereza, the lady who runs it.

On Monday we found out that it actually takes us only 3 minutes door to door from our hostel to the language school, but the first day it took us bit longer. Based on the tests that we took on-line, we were assigned to classes. Laura is studying together with one girl from the UK and I got an individual lessons as there was nobody else studying at my level. In addition to us, there are Iris and Stefan from Germany who are starting with Spanish from the beginning.

On Monday school was shorter, because light did not work in the whole building. After the classes there was a tour organized by the language school to Ascensor Polanco. Ascensor Polanco is one of the nine working ascensors in Valparaíso. Compared to the other ones, Polanco is the only one that is like a lift (completely vertical). Other ascensors are more like a funicular (such as the one which goes to Petřín in Prague).
Ascensor Polanco.
The same day we also managed to join tour for tips and it was so far the best tour we took. It took us to many interesting places and described why there is a German flag and a big sign "Feuerwehr" on some of the fires trucks.

During the rest of the week we spent more time studying and organizing our trip, but we also managed to visit Palacio Baburizza with a nice collection of Chilean art and also Pablo Neruda's house La Sebastiana.
Laura in front of Pablo Neruda's house La Sebastiana
For more pictures see our picasa album.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laura!
    Glad to hear that you two are traveling in Chile! Beautiful and interesting country! If you are heading to the north, I suggest you should visit San Pedro de Atacama as well. Very touristy, but nice. Hire a bicycle and ride to the Valle de la Luna and Laguna Cejar! ;)