07.05.2010 - 13.05.2010 15 °C
We had heard so much about Valpo and we had high expectations. Actually the first impression was pretty much what we had heard, cables everywhere and run-down colourful buildings on hilltops. The city basically used to be a posh place back in beginning of 1900. However, since then the city has been more or less left to fall apart.
The place has a certain bohemian charm to it with its 30 hills tops and small wooden houses. A cool detail is that they built some sort of old lift systems to get up on the hills, most of them goes back to 1890. Due to the hills, the narrow streets are built completely criss crossed with various alleys and staircases short-cutting them, forming a labyrinth.
We really liked walking around and just getting lost on these hill tops. Most of the old wooden houses are painted in different colours. Also there are loads of street art, both graffiti and strange art objects randomly attached to houses or walls.
Unfortunately this bohemian atmosphere attracts a lot of dodgy people. There were a few no go areas, like the old district near the harbour. In the night it becomes the red light district with drug dealers and prostitutes. Nothing happened to us, but we were being very paranoid and constantly looking over our shoulders. We kept being told different stories by people all the time, some saying how safe it was, while the same time we heard people getting things stolen. A couple in our hostel even got robbed by some kid with a broken bottle...scary.
I also got to tell you all about this crazy scam they have with sightseeing boats in the harbour. There´s a public boat tour recommended in guidebooks, tourist office etc. However, this boat does everything to avoid getting tourist onboard. Instead there are private boats charging 10 times the prices taking people out. It became so obvious that the public boat people get money from the private boats just to avoid getting people on the boat. The worst thing with this scam, is that they do not even let more than 3 people go together on the private boats, and these boats can take up to 75 people. Instead 30 boats every hour are leaving with just 3 people on board, so bad for the environment. It is too long to tell the complete story, but those who know Laura well, knows that she does not take any shit like that...and we ended up filling a official complaint to the navy that controls the harbour.
We kept looking for volunteer organisations and were directed to three different places. Everything was very unorganised and in the end we just gave up, as it did not seem to be any help organisations that accepted volunteers. We were not really sure about staying in Valpo either to be honest. Its a really cool city though, it seems like there are concerts and things on every night. We saw some good soul/funk/guitar concert and we also went to a hip hop reggae mini festival. At this festival there were perhaps 200 people, and probably half of them did a song on the stage. Ok, everyone was not good, but I swear that every this city must have the highest percentage of artist in the world.
Though a cool city, three days is enough to see it. We had to wait for my and Laura's credit cards to arrive. My got there after 6 days, after 7 days we gave up waiting for Laura's. We will have to get it resent somewhere else when it arrives... Spanish v.s. Swedish postal service, no competition. After a few days we decided to take a short trip to Horcon which is an old hippie town that have kept its 60is atmosphere. We found the cutest little puppy starving on the streets, so we went and bought some ham for him. After that he would not let us go, since he was so small we had to carry him down stairs as he was falling over. We took him to this deserted beach and introduced him to the sea.
Oh, I should also mentioned that we met some great people here. We especially liked the guy in the second hostel we stayed in, Jorge. He was so helpful and kind to everyone. Definitely one of the best hostel experiences we have had ever. He treated everyone to the national drink, Pisco sour one night, another night some sort of hot wine similar to Swedish Glogg. As most guests were gringos speaking very little Spanish, he was hanging out with us a lot. The funny thing is that he is so similar to Jose...I mean not so much the way he looked, but more the way he was, his way of smiling, talking etc. Jose tienes tu gemelo aqui.