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Days 58-59 Valpo-Nostalgia

semi-overcast 12 °C
View 100 days/ 100 gün on ayca ozer's travel map.

Off the bus, we head down to the apartment we will be staying at. Streets are busy, people going home from a hard day's work. Sun is low but bright, as it is on long summer afternoons, or rather in winter, in these parts of the world. IMG_0016.jpg

We are in Valparaiso, a "Paradise Valley" acclaimed city of colors, history, engineering, culture, harbor and of course, parties...
It is a city, detached from the sea by a tramline and former harbor structures in decay. The sea used to be city's heart, it's giver of life, it seems, but now it is just a thing in the background, that appears on panoramas. IMG_8620.jpg
Between the sea and the famous hills is the flat bit, busy with stores, office buildings, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets.
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Looking for the house number 519 on Avenida General Cruz, walking up and down, but no luck. Finally a lady comes around the corner, and says "hola!", it is obvious that we are some tourists with heavy backpacks, who seem to be lost while looking for something. She is our host, Loreta, with her daughter, Siena. Loreta says, Siena is an Italian name, it sure is, and Siena is as beautiful as an Italian.
Loreta opens the building door in front of us, we had found the place, we just did not know, as number 519 is written with a chalk on the side of the door.
Thru the front door we go in to the vestibule and start walking up the long curving stairs that resemble an entrance to a former mansion. Squeaky wood stairs lead to a hallway upstairs, 10 double doors lead to various rooms from the hallway with old school fish scale wood floor pattern.
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Valparaiso is located on a geography made of hills and valleys... The hills that overlook the sea, the port and the flat bit are accessible by historic ascensores that rattle up and down non stop all day, hauling people from the lower part of the city to the hills. And once on the hills, it is a different world. Sky is nearer, sun does not seem so low anymore, and the view, must have been a delight, back in the last century.
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Our bedroom, third one in the 20 meter long hallway, has only got a double bed and a bench in it, and ceilings of roughly 4 and a half meters. Sun light pierces thru the shutters; as you open the shutters, the room is filled with sunlight.
IMG_0011.jpg Cracked windows taped to hold together, provide views to the run down but busy park across the street. Cracked stucco on the walls reveal bricks.
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Same kind of decay has hit the city when the Panama Chanel was built in 1914. Since then, Valparaiso has lost its role in the world commerce and gradually started loose its commercial importance but never its' bohemian popularity...
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Corner room is the painting studio, where Francisco is busy putting the finishing touches to his renditions of Valparaiso. Demolished buildings and other local landmarks are painted in Daliesque ways with the intention of rendering them immortal, these paintings will be featured in a movie we are told.
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Francisco and his paintings represent a century of Valparaiso when it shone like a diamond ... Now its' residents are stuck in nostalgia of the heydays. IMG_4352.jpg

The rest of the rooms are living quarters of our host couple, office, bedrooms, shared shower and kitchen.
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As the central hills are mostly gentrified by students and bohemians, parties are part of the daily life, and they go on until the wee hours, pretty much every night.

Downstairs from our room is The Extreme Nightclub, that will provide the hard rock and 80's anthem lullabies for us tourists to fall asleep at night. IMG_0015.jpg

Boutique hotels and design stores are abundant on the colorful gentrified hills and on roads that lead to the hills. IMG_4350.jpg On one of these roads, Cerveceria Altamira is housed in the former oldest brewery building in the country. They probably serve one of the most sophisticated beers you can find on this continent. IMG_0019.jpg

Valparaiso, or Valpo, as locals call it, is nostalgia itself, written all over it. Apart from its cute hilly neighborhoods, all that is left of its heyday is decay, pollution and poverty. IMG_4351.jpg Its tired soul is still there, but it might never be resurrected...

Posted by ayca ozer 06:28 Archived in Chile Tagged cerveza hills valparaiso nostalgia artesanal gentrification Comments (1)

Days 46-47 Valdivia, the Valley of rivers and beer!

sunny 21 °C
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We don't exactly know how we ended up in Valdivia, honesty. It was a spear of the moment thing right after new year's while we were looking for our next stop. Valdivia seemed like a nice little university town by the water. Short bus ride and vacancy at the permacultura hostel made it a viable stop option for us. And, yes there is supposed to be a great local brewery in town...
Once in town, we hit one of those well organized and extremely professional government run tourist offices for local info to find out that, in and around Valdivia there are about 20 micro breweries, there is a comprehensive brochure on local breweries with addresses etc. Unfortunately, we don't have the time to visit all, but we figure we could at least stop by a few.
So we set out to Niebla, a small town 20 mins outside Valdivia. Local bus drops us off at Kunstmann Brewery, which is apparently the largest and most popular amongst all local beer makers. IMG_8934.jpg Kunstmann's got marketing sorted out. On the premises they have a bar where you can eat and drink; a beer museum where they show a decent collection of beer paraphernalia and Kunstmann history; a beer garden where they hold their own annual Octoberfest-cum beer drinking contests; and a fairly large brewery. IMG_7920.jpg
We sit down at the bar for a sampler set of 6 specialty beers they have on tap. Then we take the brewery tour and go thru the museum and we get walked thru the old brewery to end the tour with tasting the unfiltered Gran Torobayo (The Great Red Bull), by far the best beer they brew, not available outside the brewery. 90_IMG_7929.jpg 90_IMG_7930.jpg

We then get back on the bus to downtown Niebla. IMG_7943.jpg 180_IMG_7945.jpg At the local market food court we take antichucos (equivalent of non-helal local sish kebab) and spot a booth selling Cuello Negro beer. IMG_8930.jpg Two bottles of smooth unpasteurized slightly hoppy refreshing Cuello Negro Ambar wash down the sausage, meat and vegetable mix of antichucos. Satisfied, full and now slightly buzzed, we start walking around town and end up the beach for a breezy stroll.
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We then take the bus over to El Duende Cerveceria, another local joint highly appraised by our hostel owner. We walk in to the brewery shop and pick up a bottle of Ambar and a Negra, IMG_8928.jpg both recently bottled within the last week or so, thus both slightly cloudy and yeasty. Ambar is very bitter compared to Cuello Negro but the award winning stout Negra is smooth, with plenty of caramel and pleasant finish.
While sitting outside the shop sipping our beers, a young tall fella in work overalls drops in and we start asking questions about El Duende. This young fella is Gaston, the brewmaster of El Duende, who later takes us in to the brewery for an informal tour. The place is a small house with an extension room for storage and a cooler room. He walks us thru the process, which is basically the same as a homebrewing set up, with larger tanks of course. The room is filled with delicious wort smell, as a new batch of Ambar is cooking as we speak.
We thank him and wish him good luck and get back on the bus to Valdivia.

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In Valdivia, we make one last brewery stop, this time not at an operational brewery but an old one that got turned in to a contemporary art museum run by the local government. The building used to be home to the first pre-Kunstmann era brewery and suffered a fire first and later, an earthquake that rendered it in operational. It was recently rehabilitated and got turned in to a museum. There are 4 halls with 4 different exhibits in this two story museum on the river. IMG_8932.jpg The front part with ample light and double height glazing where they used to make beer is the painting galleries now. The catacomb like back part is dark, damp, cooler and is home to video art, this is where they used to store the beer back in the days. IMG_8933.jpg Slightly run down now and in dire need of refurbishment, the museum will be rebuilt in the near future and become a monument that celebrates the beer culture and contemporary art in the region of Los Rios, the rivers region of Chile.

Who would have guessed that such a small town like Valdivia would offer such great variety of beer and its culture?
The answer is twofold. It goes back to the German immigrants who along with their families also brought their beer culture with them and introduced beer to the locals. And with the addition of clear and filtered waters of the Los Rios region the first beer turned out great, and proved to be a great success, still..

Posted by ayca ozer 18:02 Archived in Chile Tagged beer cerveza fiesta artesanal valdiva Comments (0)

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