This week's Travel Tuesday destination: Valparaíso, Chile! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valparaíso is the San Francisco of South America. This offbeat ocean side city is full of steep, winding roads - some so precipitous, they have elevators.
125km Northwest of Santiago, Valparaíso is built on 42 hills nestled along the Pacific Ocean. A 90-minute bus ride from Santiago is the most convenient way to get into the city.
Originally a bustling shipping harbor, Valparaíso lost much of its merchant traffic when the Panama Canal opened. The waterfront is still the heart of the city and the source of most of its income.
The city used to have 30 elevators, or escaleras, to help people get around. Only a few remain, including the oldest one: the Ascensor Concepción.
In 2011, Lonely Planet named Valparaíso a Top Ten City for Artistic Inspiration. Pablo Neruda, the famed poet, was a native of Valparaíso. After dark hike up to La Sebastiana - Neruda watched the New Year's fireworks from his home here every year, so it is a great spot to see the city through his eyes.
Valparaíso is the muse for many other artists and writers as well. Isabel Allende's best-selling book Daughter of Fortune is set in this picturesque city.
A must see is the Museo a Cielo Abierto - 20 outdoor murals created by university students between 1969 and 1973. A quick ride on the Ascensor Espíritu Santo will take you to the start.
The Cerro Polanco is a required stop for all street art fans. In October 2012, the neighborhood held a street art festival. There are original works from over 70 artists decorating walls, fences, and sidewalks.
After summiting the peaks of Valparaíso, you will definitely have earned yourself a large meal. There are countless restaurants and stalls where you can eat fresh seafood caught earlier in the day. Empanadas and palta (warm, fresh bread smeared with avocado - yum) make easy, portable snacks as you get hungry throughout the day.
For a heartier dinner, try chorrillana. Chorrillana is a traditional meal of fries topped with steak, onion, and egg - delicious!