Chile is a fantastic country that is full of every type of attraction, fascination, and even contradiction (HOW is Chile so skinny, while making us so fat?). It’s a fascinating place, with incredibly warm people, and we loved it so much that we came twice! Our first trip was in the south to Patagonia, but we couldn’t resist all that the rest of Chile had to offer.
Our first stop was also one of our favorites. It’s a small city called Valparaiso that is unlike any place we’d been before. Valparaiso was a major port town until the Panama Canal made it obsolete. As its citizens abandoned the town and over time artists moved in and took over. What they’ve built is magical.
Imagine a hilly port town covered in graffiti. Sounds awful, huh? Now, instead of the amateur graffiti most cities deal in, imagine gorgeous, large-scale art murals covering all of the walls and buildings. The murals differ hugely in style, color and size, and yet somehow they blend together to create a magical place where, around every cobble-stoned corner, a new adventure awaits.
We stayed in ViaVia Boutique Hotel, which, besides being a charming lodging, is home to the famous ViaVia Café. It was a delight from start to finish, and between the great room, delicious food and fun atmosphere, we never wanted to leave.
We took a walking tour around Valparaiso with “Tours for Tips,” our absolutely favorite tour company in South America. They operate with volunteer guides, who are young, energetic and knowledgeable. We’ve loved every tour we’ve taken with them.
Though we hated to leave Valparaiso, leave me must. Next, we spent a brief two days in fabulous Santiago, where we enjoyed another tour from Tours for Tips. Their walking tours are such a fun way to get acclimated in a new place and learn history at the same time.
In Santiago, we stayed at an awesome guesthouse called Hostel Amazonas Riveras. A redone Tudor mansion, it has tons of ambience and clean simple rooms. Plus, they were great help with activities and transfers.
After Santiago we flew to North Chile to enjoy our favorite: Adventure.