So basically I never wanted to leave Iquique. It is a perfect beach city, big, but not too big. Perfect weather and perfect beaches. Locals say it rains two or three days a year! I stayed for several days and then finally got myself on a bus to Santiago. The bus to Santiago was supposed to be 24 hours but ended up being 26. Yup it was long. Luckily I sat next to a nice older woman with a large bag of food who shared with me the whole way.
Santiago is gigantic, hot, busy, pretty clean, remarkably safe, and modern. I no longer feel like I am in South America. Santiago feels like Europe? I enjoyed the city a lot and I found a good hostel with a pool in a cool barrio only a few metro stops from the center. I took two different free walking tours to see as much of the city as I could! I met a nice group of American girls from California that I hung out with for the day. When I left Santiago I wanted to head to the beach again and knew Valparaiso (2 hours west of the city) was nice. I reasonably assumed that the buses to Valpa left from the main bus terminal but after arriving I found out it has its own terminal and so I walked several blocks with my backpack through the Santiago heat. I needed a fruit smoothie when I got there before I could find a bus.
Valparaiso is amazing. I could totally live in this city. I love cities on the water and especially this city on the water. Valparaiso is bigger than I expected but I love it none the less. Basically the city is built on a hill with many staircase streets, UNBELIEVABLE street art (check my facebook for pictures), cute little boutiques, and cafes. What more could you need?
I met a nice French girl in the bus station in Valparaiso and together we found a cheap and fantastic little b&b. The first night we met a nice shop owner when we stopped to play with his cat. He told us if we waited for him to close the store we could go out with him to see his friend play music in a bar. He made us tea and we hung out in the store for a while until his friend came and then we all went to a pub with enormous food portions and watched his friend play guitar.
At the b&b we also met a German girl and today the three of us went to the neighboring city of Vina Del Mar to check out the beach. It’s no Iquique but it was quite nice. Back in Valparaiso we saw a bike event going on where bikers were biking down the stairs of the city and over crazy jumps. Pretty nuts..
I have now bought my Argentinian Visa and bus ticket and will be off to Argentina tomorrow. I have so much more I want to see in Chile so I will have to come back I guess! I am excited to go to Argentina and to see my mom and sister soon who are coming to visit me 🙂 Much lurvv xxxSienna