Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are two twin cities nestled by the Pacific ocean, less than a two-hour drive from Santiago. Valparaíso is a port town, and was once more developed than Santiago. The remnants of early life are evident, as architectural influences from all over Europe and other parts of the world can be found side by side. Part of the city is actually a UNESCO world heritage site in order to protect the old styles of construction. The port still operates today, though the fishing industry is largely commercial with few Chileans doing the actual fishing these days. Viña del Mar is, at least in the areas close to the beach, a wealthy town, with beautiful houses, clean beaches, and dozens of destinations that cater to tourists and locals alike.
There’s something about going to the beach that just really rejuvenating. Perhaps it was a day without worrying about homework, school, and friends, maybe it was the fresh air, it could have even been the time spent playing soccer with a stray dog on a beach in Viña del Mar. Whatever the reason, this trip to Valpo and Viña was the perfect way to not only see another part of Chile but also to recharge a bit. I feel like getting to experience the ocean is the closest thing you can get to a reset button in life. I think it’s just being reminded of the sheer size of the planet, the vastness of the sea, the soothing sound of waves crashing against the shore; it’s sometimes nice to be reminded of how small you are. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in life, especially while studying abroad and trying to balance so many things, all in a different language. It was great to be reminded of how diverse Chile is, how big the world is, and how small some of life’s problems can be.