Valparaíso vs. Santiago; sand vs. concrete.
The sand on Playa Zapallar is blistering, even coarse, but we barely noticed today while we lounged on colorful beach towels, soaking up the radiant UV rays beating down on us like a snare drum. This happy hippie, beach bum lifestyle is one that our group quickly decided we could get used to – and appears to be the everlasting vibe in the twin cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.
The cities are colorful, but calm – dynamic, but balmy. Music and art are prominent parts of the culture, and it’s hard to turn down one of the narrow streets without coming across a suave guitarist or vibrantly detailed mural. The people we’ve met are friendly, with chill, Shaggy-from-Scooby-Doo-esque attitudes.
This low-key lifestyle made for a drastic change from Santiago, yet another city that never sleeps. There, we found a fast-paced world of metros, mutual funds, sidewalks, and skyscrapers. People took life more seriously, and many of their tense shoulders seemed to need a spoon full of Viña to recharge.
This is not to say that one city is better than the other; both areas have their drawbacks and advantages. Every individual city in the world has it’s own unique energy, and exploring those distinctive cultures and corners is what makes traveling such an amazing adventure.