“The Hills Are Alive”: Photos from Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, Chile

“The Hills Are Alive”: Photos from Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, Chile

Two twin cities on the coast of Chile, Valparaíso (affectionately known as “Valpo”) and Viña del Mar, make up one of the country’s star tourist attractions.  With a fantastic art and bohemian scene, Valpo is a hub for expats and backpackers, while palm-tree lined Viña del Mar exudes more of a high-rolling Miami vibe.  Both are walk-able cities that are worth at least a day of your time.

The best way to take in Valpo is to go for a long stroll through its many hilltop neighbourhoods.  You’ll find pockets of eye-catching street art hidden between the already-colourful buildings, and may end up spending an entire afternoon just wandering.  Make sure you finish the day off with an ice cream from my favourite place, Emporio Rosa! Read more

Latin America: A Journey Through Food (Video)

10 months + 12 countries= 861 meals.

From llama to cow intestines to ceviche to guinea pig to a LOT of rice and boiled potatoes, Latin America introduced me to a lot of new gastronomical challenges.  Some were successes (I love alpaca!), while some left me feeling queasy (spit-roasted guinea pig is not a delicacy for me), but all reminded me that the secret to understanding a culture is through their food.  Here is just a taste of what South American cuisine is all about.

Also, for a more detailed look at Peruvian cuisine, don’t forget to check out my post on the most typical Peruvian dishes.

Photo Friday: Street Art in Valparaíso, Chile

Photo Friday: Street Art in Valparaíso, Chile

If you’re looking for quality street art in South America, there are three stops you must add to your itinerary: Bogotá, Buenos Aires, and  Valparaíso.

Tucked on the coastal hills of central Chile, “Valpo” — as it’s affectionately known — is one of Chile’s oldest and most important fishing and shipping ports.  For tourists, it makes an attractive day trip or long-term backpacker hangouts.  Valpo is filled with hostels, small boutiques, and plenty of restaurants, (including many healthy options).  But the main draw of the city is its colours!  Valpo is filled with street art, and even most of the residential houses are brightly painted.  One of the best ways to spend your time there is to take a long walk through the hills to admire all of surrounding artwork.

Make sure you take a stroll past Pablo Neruda’s Valparaíso home.  It’s one of the three residences that the poet maintained in Chile.

 

50 Shades of (South American) Grey: Photo Essay

50 Shades of (South American) Grey: Photo Essay

There’s something wonderful about seeing the world in black and white.  Maybe it’s because nothing ever is just that.  Black and white is not our reality.  We are forced into a world of colour, of multiple dimensions, of scents and smells and tastes.  Yet once in awhile, we need to step and look at the simpler side of things.  We need to see things in shades of grey.

Here of 50 black-and-white photos from South America.  They look at the land, the cultures, and the people that I met along my journey.

Photo Friday: Viña del Mar, Chile, in HDR

Photo Friday: Viña del Mar, Chile, in HDR

Looking back over my posts and photos from the last few months, I realize that one country is completely missing: Chile.  In all honesty, I’m just beginning to go through my photos from there.  Lauren and I only spent one week in Chile, which is really a shame.  We were in a rush, so we didn’t have a lot of flexibility, but I realize that the country has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, food, and — for us aficionadas — salsa.

As far as big cities go, Santiago surpassed my expectations.  My only complaint is that it was constantly overcast while we were there, and the clouds (or was it smog?) prevented us from seeing the mountains that surround the city.  But more than Santiago, I adored the twin coastal cities Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.

Between the two of them, Valparaíso definitely is the cultural and bohemian favourite.  Viña del Mar is considered a Chilean Miami — a hot spot for casinos, upscale cafes, and restaurants with a seaside view.  That being said, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering down the beach promenade, taking in the pelicans that sailed over the water hunting for fish.  And did I mention that Chile has the best ice cream shop chain that I’ve ever visited?  Some of the best flavours we tried?  Essence of rose, raspberry mint, orange ginger, green tea with mango, chocolate orange, white chocolate with manjar, tutti frutti, and honey tree.  Enough said.

Side note: You may have noticed that I’ve started incorporating some HDR processing into my photos.  HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography has its fair share of controversy — when does it become “too much?”  I’ve been reading up on a lot of photographers’ opinions on it, and have come to the conclusion that it can be a great tool for recreating what the eye sees, as long as it’s not overdone.  Do you have any thoughts on the subject?  Am I overdoing it?

Argentina and Chile: More than Just Beaches and Palm Trees

Argentina and Chile: More than Just Beaches and Palm Trees

If any country has tested my five-shirt backpacking wardrobe, it’s been Argentina.  Over the past six weeks, Lauren (one of my best friends) and I spent a total of 117.5 hours in buses crossing Argentina and Chile.  Shivering in the pouring rain on top of a glacier near Antarctica, I had no choice but to shed my naive preconception that South America was a “tropical” continent and that it had been a good idea to leave my sweaters at home.

Although this trip-within-a-trip forced me to bulk up my wardrobe (I even bought a hat, and I’m anything but a hat person), the drastic changes in climate were accompanied by a myriad of scenery which brought us from cities, to mountains, to beach, to deserts, to waterfalls, and everything in between.

Over the next week, I will be posting photos and short reflections on the different stops on our trip, beginning with Buenos Aires, the city of tango, sophistication, and for us, salsa.