Corrugated City

Friday 30 January 2009

Quinta Vergara

For more information, in Spanish, about La Quinta Vergara in Viña, click here-I'm just posting some pretty pictures.

Entrance and park

The palace was built after the original residence was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake that hit the region. Finished in 1906 it's in the Neogothic-Venetian style.

Despite looking vast, the palace isn't actually all that big. The ground floor is spectacular with 6 or 7 metre high ceilings, beautiful cornices and moldings and parquet floors. But the second floor living quarters, which aren't open to the public, look like they're pretty basic with a fairly small and tight staircase leading upstairs.

I love the skylights...

...and the floor tiles...

Behind the palace is a pretty big park with dirt trails leading up to some decent views. Unfortunately, it's apparently unsafe...we were right at the top when two security guards suggested we might want to head back down as people have been robbed when walking away from the flat garden area at the bottom. There are also security guards on dirt bikes patrolling the park. This is so sad and one of the downsides of living in a developing country. In Europe or the US this kind of park would be safe and popular. It'd be a great place to spend an afternoon wandering or to go for a picnic. Oh well...

The Festival de la Cancion is held in the Quinta Vergara every year. International and local stars battle it out for the Gaviota! Gaviota! Gaviota! and the hope that the notoriously fickle Viña crowd doesn't turn and start booing. Word of advice to potential winners: Don't be like Enrique Iglesias and throw a large metal, heavy, sharp and decidedly pointy trophy shaped like a seagull randomly into the crowd. Muppet. (Click here for an entertaining re-enactment, as Youtube has deleted all videos that show the real thing). 

Would you like to be sitting under this giant death contraption during a major earthquake? It seems designed with maximum carnage in mind.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Plaza Sotomayor: Old

There's some more info about Plaza Sotomayor here.

This photo is from sometime during the mid to late 1800s.

Wednesday 28 January 2009


On Friday I had to head to Santiago in order to pick up some papers and talk business to accountants and the like. Exciting stuff, I know. But I combined the trip with a couple of friends and stayed the weekend.

I'd like to say that we had the most fantastic time evertm but I'd be lying. We did have pretty good fun though, just wandering around, eating and drinking. Nothing particularly touristy, just hanging out really. And getting to eat the best churrasco in Domino.

On Saturday night, we arranged to meet up with some Santiago based bloggers, KyleTamsin,Caira and Katina along with assorted husbands and friends in my favourite Peruvian restaurant,Puerto Peru. It was interesting to put real people to online personalities...and great to hear that we all gossip about each other based on what we read :) It was a really fun evening and good to finally meet some of the people I read about every week.

Monday 26 January 2009

1906 Earthquake IV: Looters

As with most natural disasters, law and order after the 1906 earthquake here in Valparaiso was somewhat lacking. For this reason, the local authorities gave the order for looters to be executed on the spot. These guys were unlucky enough to be caught. You've got to love the mob justice. It's just like the Festival de Viña when they boo artists so much they cry and run off stage :)

This person looks no older than 14 or 15. And given that he's surrounded by gawping children, it suggests that he wasn't older than 14 or 15...

Thursday 22 January 2009

Swiss Troles

A while ago, I posted a short history of the tram system here in Valparaiso. It was replaced in the 1950s by the Trolebus. Some of the troles have French language instructions in them. This would suggest that JCMoriaud's comments in the original posts about them coming from Geneva are correct. Not that I didn't believe it before, just that I'm a little sceptical of things unless I get real proof...

Anyway, photos:

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Cerro La Campana V

Yesterday I went back to Cerro La Campana (click here for previous posts and scroll down the page).

This was the fourth time I've been to La Campana. You may be wondering why I've been so many times. Mainly it's because there aren't any other decent hikes within 45 minutes of Valpo but it's also because it's a really fun challenge; hard work but non-technical and the incredible views from the top are really worth the effort.

Yesterday, however, I wished I'd not gone. I went with a friend who decided after half an hour that he wasn't going to be able to make it up. He gave me his camera and urged me to go on alone. We arranged to meet at the mine area half way up after I'd been up to the cumbre.

The reason it was so tough early on was the warmth. The last three times I've been, the first hour was hiked in cool, even cold conditions under the cover of the trees. This time, it was over 20C at 8.30 in the morning and the extra effort required so early on in the hike proved exhausting. By the time I had reached the mine area on my own, I felt more tired than I had after reaching the top on previous occassions.

The part from the mine area up was really difficult for two reasons. One, the temperature had hit about 30C and two, due to the complete lack of rainfall at this time of the year, the trail was really dusty and very slippery. It was so tiring I was pausing momentarily every 20 metres or so to catch my breath.

By the time I reached the summit, I was ready to collapse. I ate my lunch, took a few snaps and was eaten alive by flies and midges. I lasted about 25 minutes before I was driven down again. I'd taken over 3.5 litres of water and half a litre of chocolate milk but it was so hot, all I had left was under 500ml for the descent.

I was happy to reach the car and get home.

So it was a reasonably miserable climb and had I known it would be so in advance I doubt I'd have gone. However, I'm glad I did push on. The views at the top were not the best but still worth the trouble and I feel pretty good about overcoming my desire to just give up and go home.

If you're thinking about climbing La Campana at this time of year I'd definitely say it's worthwhile if you can't do it at any other time. Otherwise I'd suggest waiting 'til April and May or Septmeber and October.

That white tinge to the photo is Valpo under a cloud.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Ascensor Polanco

There have been two things high on my must-see in Valparaiso list since I moved here permanently two years ago: visit the Lukas museum, a one minute walk from my house and take the Ascensor Polanco over on Cerro Polanco. Yesterday, I finally managed the latter.

The Ascensor Polanco was built in 1915 and is the only real 'ascensor' in Valparaiso as all the others are actually funiculars. The entrance to the ascensor is found on Calle Simpson, just off the nightmare Avenida Argentina. After paying your money you enter a 150m long tunnel that leads to the lift. You have to ring the bell to let the operator know you're waiting. The lift then rises some 60m during which you can see the lift shaft changing from solid rock to huge chunks of mortared rock to brick. The views from the top as you exit along the suspended footpath are spectacular all around.

The monumentally foul Congreso

From the front, this church on Avenida Argentina looks reasonably sized. It's only from up in the hills that you can see that it's actually a vast monastery.

There's really nothing whatsoever to do in the neighbourhood once you're there. A quick walk around shows a well-kept, quiet residential area. Once thing you might notice, especially if you've spent most of your time on Cerros Concepcion and Alegre is the lack of rubbish, lack of dogs and lack of dog shit everywhere.

There was this little family of cute cats and kittens though...

One might think that the poorer parts of town would be less well maintained but that's not the case. It would appear that residents of neighbourhoods which don't have their garbage collected three times a day, which don't have tourism generated wealth, which don't receive preferential treatment from the council have more civic pride than those of us who live on Cerros Concepcion and Alegre. I think that the people here simply expect everything to be done for them so they make no effort to do anything themselves. This would explain the garbage everywhere, the packs of semi-stray dogs and the ankle deep dog shit. The residents here are quick to complain about any changes that take place but seem incapable of actually doing anything useful to improve the neighbourhood. It's easy to blame the influx of tourists, hotels, restaurants and shops for the slight squalor here but perhaps people should start to look a little closer to home and learn from residents of neighbouring cerros.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Chau La Meredith

It's been fun...Good luck with the new job and see you in July...assuming you're still there...

Monday 12 January 2009

Bathtub Transportation: Someone Should Have A Word

Following on from a previous posting of when kites go bad, I spotted this recently.

Thursday 8 January 2009


One of the good things about going back to England is that it gives me the chance to thieve all the music my brother spends good money purchasing. Chile is a musical backwater so I tend to lose track of what's going on in the world.

To this end, I am now listening to:

Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes
MGMT-Oracular Spectacular (the singles are way better than the rest of the tracks)
Stereolab-Chemical Chords (I actually thought Stereolab had disbanded after the untimely death of Mary Hanson a few years ago)
TV On The Radio-Dear Science
Hot Chip-Made in the Dark
Herman Dune-his last 3 albums.

I've also recently got around to purchasing:

Vivian Girls-Vivian Girls
Bon Iver-For Emma, Forever Ago
El Guincho-Alegranza

All of the above is pretty good to be honest. I'm particularly enjoy Vivian Girls and TV On The Radio.

Now go check them out.

Monday 5 January 2009

New Year Valparaiso 2009

So I'm back after an absence of almost a month. I'm sure you're missed me.

I got back just before new year. I had a great time in England, catching up with friends and family-the usual kind of stuff. Lots of eating, drinking and the like.

I had a bit of a nightmare when Lan lost my bag on the flight back (after cancelling my original flight and sending me on an awful journey London-Madrid-Lima-Santiago). They then spent three entire days lying to me about when I'd get the bag back and where it was. I won't bore you with the details but I was extremely pissed off to say the very least and I'm expecting some serious compensation...

Anyway, New Year here in Valparaiso was spectacular. I had a party at my house which went off extremely well except for when a piece of my staircase fell off and hit a friend on the head and leg around 2am. A rather large step that had worked its way loose. Not good. Fortunately, it turned out not to be too serious but at the time it was pretty scary. I felt bad enough to have to kick everyone out just as the party was really getting going. And (if you know me this will give you an idea of how awful I was feeling), I ended up looking after the friend's 2 and half year old devil child all night. Said friend is now sporting several nasty looking bruises but thankfully they will disappear. The scars of looking after the baby may take longer to heal.

I'm really busy at the moment so don't think I'll be posting much this week. I'll be in Mendoza next week for a short trip as well. Once I have more free time, I'll be back to more regular blogging.

Happy New Year! Enjoy the photos and videos.

This photo was taken without flash just before the end of the display. It was pretty bright.

Twilight mode on my camera created some pretty odd images.