Our first major stop in Chile was in Valparaiso, a hilly city right along the Pacific. It’s steep hills are marked with funiculars to avoid the climb, but we spent our weekend getting some exercise in and sticking to the streets since the city is full of amazing street art. Almost every block we explored was covered in colorful words or pictures, an impressive and refreshing thing after some of the gloomier sites in Bolivia. And bonus points: they had a couple great beer bars too! Our welcome to Chile was off to a great start.
Side note: Valparaiso technically wasn’t our first stop in Chile. We actually crossed the border at the end of our salt flats tour into San Pedro de Atacama in the northeast corner of Chile. Located in the desert, this town is becoming a popular tourist destination for its national parks that boast geysers, interesting rock formations, and flamingo filled lagoons. The drastic difference in culture and price tags certainly distracted us from any tourist attractions. It is SO much more expensive than Peru or Bolivia! (We’re talking like 50% more for hotel rooms, food, etc.) It was also interesting to note how much cleaner and better kept things were, and the people seemed healthier too. Since we’d already seen geysers and a ton of flamingos on our salt flat tour, we spent our one day in town doing a bike ride to the Valle de la Luna, where the rock formations create a lunar landscape.
We decided to fly from northern Chile to Santiago to avoid a 24+ hour bus ride. Upon landing in Santiago we immediately took a bus to Valparaiso, which is 90 minutes west of the city on the coast. We arrived just in time for dinner and to explore the Saturday night beer scene! We visited two awesome microbreweries (take that, Bolivia!!), including Anfiteatro and Altamira.
Sunday we spent wandering around the steep hills and small streets that characterize Valparaiso. We saw some amazing street art, took in a free museum, bought some funky cheap shoes for Laura, and ended the lovely day with a few more cervezas.
Street art from around the city: