During my work trip to Chile in 2015, I stayed in Santiago for a month. I worked from Monday to Friday and the first weekend I decided to take a tour to visit two of the most popular Chilean cities: Viña del Mar and Valparaiso.
First stop: Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar is a coastal city located 120 km from Santiago, famous for its beaches and an international music festival.
The first stop in Viña del Mar was at a nice clock made of flowers… and it was on time! Then, I visited “Quinta Vergara”. This place used to be the residence of the founder of the city and it’s a public park. You can stroll by the gardens and see the palace where this family lived. You can’t go in because it could collapse (Chile has many earthquakes).
Here it’s also an amphitheater where takes place Viña del Mar International Music Festival. The crowd is known as “the monster” because they can be very demanding: if you’re bad, they will let you know!
Them, we went to the beach! But it was June so it was winter. Anyway, I was impressed by the view of the Pacific Ocean: Clean, powerful, wide, wild… I mean, wild wild! It was so windy that the waves invaded the streets.
I spoke with a girl during the tour. She was from Costa Rica and was visiting Santiago for training to work at the Hard Rock Café in her city. She traveled all the way from Costa Rica to Chile for the training! It’s like an 8 hours flight. So we had lunch at the restaurant on a casino and then we started our way to Valparaiso.
Visiting Valparaiso, Chile
After lunch, we went to Valparaíso, a city located near to Viña del Mar but completely different. Valparaiso (also known as “Valpo”) is a port city and has a very important cultural heritage. Houses are placed over the hills; so many streets have uphill and downhill. Some areas are so steep that people have to take a funicular to go up. This is part of Valparaiso’s identity but, for some reason, the tour guide didn’t take us to any funicular.
When you visit Chile, you will listen about Pablo Neruda. He was a Chilean poet that won a Nobel Prize in 1971 and one of his houses named “La Sebastiana” is in Valparaíso. It’s a very peculiar building inspired by the sea. We just stopped by; there were a lot of people! If you see the house from the other side, there’s a wall full of graffiti. It’s such a photogenic city! You can also take a tour to discover all the secrets of “La Sebastiana”.
Graffitis are the real deal in Valparaíso. There are many drawings on the streets and you can’t help taking pictures!
For me, Valparaíso is also a city of contrasts. You admire these walls full of colors and buildings with all kinds of styles, but there’s also a lot of suffering there. With people living on the hills, very close to the woods, the city has had many forest fires. The worst one, considered the worst second fire of Chilean history, took place in 2014, just a year before I went there. So I could see the damage in some areas but also a lot of stately houses. Contrast, as I told you.
After this day trip visiting Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, I came back to Santiago de Chile.