It's not just the stunning vistas that hit you as you look down to the busy working commercial and naval harbor below; it's the unique, faded grandeur of the town, and its spontaneous, bohemian charm. More than anywhere else in Chile there's a feeling of 'anything goes, ' a legacy of Valparaíso's artistic presence (Pablo Neruda had a home here) and its ever-shifting port population.
It's not for everyone, mind you. Some visitors shudder at the madly crisscrossing electricity wires above the streets, and find the city run-down and dirty. Others get put off by Valpo's poverty. Some of the country's poorest shantytowns stretch up the hills, and petty crime is a problem in certain areas. And a few don't really 'get' the city: you don't really 'do' much in Valpo apart from wander the streets and maybe take in one or two museums.
But most who come here remember Val- po - nicknamed La Perla del Pacífico (Pearl of the Pacific) - for the right reasons: for its bonhomie; for its hedonistic late nights; for its fabulously welcoming family hospedajes (budget accommodations); and for its unforgettable hillsides.
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