Viña del Mar: Chile’s San Diego

I have heard Viña del Mar and Valparaíso referred to as “sister cities” before, mostly due to the fact that they are literally next to each other on the map (with no smaller towns dividing them) and they have roughly the same population (about 300,000).  However, I think a more accurate description of these two popular tourist destinations would be STEP-sisters, as they are definitely not of the same breed.

Viña del Mar is the well-manicured, uptight, sorority sister who comes from a wealthy family and enjoys activities like sipping martinis, wearing high heels, and getting her eyebrows waxed.  Meanwhile Valparaíso is… well… sort of the crazy crackwhore of the family.  Let’s compare:

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Valparaíso: The Hills are Alive

Valparaíso, Chile can take your breath away, both literally and figuratively.  The city consists of 41 “cerros” or hills that rise up from the coast, one flowing into the other in a labyrinth of brightly colored, well-graffitied homes and buildings.  The roads, staircases, and alleys that connect the hills either climb up at a steep incline or snake their way lazily along the side of the hill.  Climbing the hills on foot is a workout even for the young and fit.  Fortunately for the elderly, the infirm, and the lazy, there are many cheap public transportation options, including ancient “ascensores” or funiculars, busses, colectivos, and taxis.

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