While standing in Valparaiso, you can see the two “ends” of the bay very clearly–it’s more what you might call a lagoon. It’s relatively small. But it’s an excellent harbour, and back in the 16th century it was decided on as the best spot for the new Spanish colony’s shipping. That took a long time to really happen though, and it was only when copper and nitrate were found in northern Chile that Valparaiso really got going. It soon filled with–strangely enough–British businessmen who exploited the new resources and became VERY rich. One problem: next to Valparaiso’s bay is the thinnest strip of flat land, and then STEEP HILLS. The very rich built their beautiful houses on the hills anyway, and later, elevators (!) to actually get up and down.
Then there was a horrible earthquake in 1906, the prices of copper and nitrate dropped, and all the rich folks left Valparaiso. What’s happened to the oldest part of the town since then is pretty amazing: it’s now filled with every kind of artist–most obviously graffiti, but sculptors, theatres, and dance schools too–plus amazing restaurants, hostels, and shops. I did NOT want to leave.
You can either CLIMB into the old town on a street like this…
…or take an ascensor. I couldn’t get a photo of the “box” you go up in, because they’re cleverly hidden in buildings…
…behind which is the hill. And this.
The moment you reach the top…
THIS is what you see.
…and you see…
…houses like these…
Once IN the old town though, there are still some stairs…
There are only two substantial holiday periods in China – the reason they’re called “Golden Weeks” – and one was this past week, so I went to Japan! I was there four days; I saw some of Tokyo, and an old friend in Shizuoka prefecture, an hour and a half from Tokyo by train.
Several days of photos coming – here first are the random things I saw and loved in Tokyo itself.
In Narita airport. Japan is already awesome.
IT’S TRUE. All you’ve heard about the toilets is TRUE!
On the Tokyo Metro, Ginza Line.
The “Shibuya Scramble”. There are 5 streets, and 4 metro stations, which converge on this spot. When all the lights say Walk…THIS happens.
Wall sculpture in Shibuya.
TALL sign so the fire trucks can FIND the fire hydrant!
Ladies in kimonos, just because. There were LOTS of women wearing kimonos, just because!
The Tokyo Skytree on the riverbank.
This building is a tourist information centre. Certainly easy to spot!
There are vending machines for drinks everywhere – VERY helpful.
Wha wha WHAT??
Tokyo from the north observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.
This is how I tasted Kobe beef, in a scrumptious burger. Mwah.
Or Macao. For various reasons, I was only able to stay one night. NOT ENOUGH. Will be going back. I spent most of my time there giggling because my Spanish allowed me to understand just about ALL the Portuguese I saw!
Just past the gate from Gombei Port in China…
…is the entry to Porto Centros, Macao.
The fountain before The Sands hotel and Casino near the harbour.
What street is The Sands Casino on?
“Lotus Flower in Full Bloom,” across from the Sands.
The flags of China and Macau.
One ferry arriving from Hong Kong, another just leaving.
A Cine-Concert…The Triplets of Belleville, with live music. How fricking cool is that?!!
This fellow was just handing out lucky red envelopes to kids!
This is part of Fisherman’s Wharf, very nice restaurants and shops in slightly kitcshy new buildings made to look “old”.
Beautiful fountain in between faux Italian and Tudor English houses!
The aptly named Harbourview Hotel. Not sure what style architecture this is…
Lovely red lanterns everywhere.
Most of the buildings in this area were old-style, but the brick and stone of these tells me they’re genuine.
Looks like a Roman column, doesn’t it? Hee here!
The “Roman” column overlooks the “Roman ruins” of the Babylon Casino!
“Roman” Amphitheatre. I kept telling myself “I should hate this…but I don’t!”
“Give me your money to eat! Bwa ha ha!”
New Year’s Display on Fisherman’s Wharf.
How much more like Vegas can you GET! So ridiculously awesome!
Jardim Vasco de Gama Garden, as seen from the front of my hotel!
Sports centre to one side of the Garden.
Orange trees. I am NOT exaggerating, orange trees EVERYWHERE!
Fountains of Vasco de Gama Garden.
Vasco de Gama himself.
And this is my hotel, from the Garden. If you didn’t hate me yet, you do now. 😀
I treated myself to dinner at Fado, the Portuguese restaurant in my hotel. These are fresh codfish cakes.
All of this came with every meal! 6 different breads, 3 flavours of olive oil, carrots steeped in olive oil, olive tapenade, and garlic-tomato butter.
Seriously, ALL the seafood. This is shrimp and bread stew. Happy Place.
The church of St Michael.
This is a bridal shop!!
Rua Horta Companhia Rotunda.
I wish I could tell you what this shop sold, but it was shut!
The other half of the crazy-awesome display.
The air smelled different in Macau. It took me a while to realise ALL of these shrines had incense burning. Those are wrapped cookies in front.
Just hanging off someone’s door. Amazing.
New Year’s decorations down a street median.
I couldn’t stop marvelling at the streets here…
Tap Seac Square.
Tap Seac Square.
St Lazarus Church.
Another church. I lost track. I think the Portuguese colonists were Catholic.
Bonito gato negro, esta desayando.
This was a church, now it appears to be apartments. Sigh…
The paving on the street is modern–it fits around manholes–but it’s very nicely done.
Looking down from the ruins of St Paul’s. The crazy pointy building at the back is The Grand Lisbon Hotel and Casino. (Macau has a LOT of those.)