It’s Summer in South America—Here’s Where to Go to Escape the Cold – Part 1

valparaiso-chile-summer-in-south-americaIf you’ve traveled to South America, odds are you’ve been to the continent’s capitals. You’ve probably been mesmerized by the sensual tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina; you may have tasted vintages produced in the fertile wine valleys surrounding Santiago, Chile; and you’ve likely frequented the artistic establishments in the hip Barranco borough of Lima, Peru. But outside of the South America’s metropolitan capitals, there are cities alive with culture, adventure, and creativity. Capitalizing on the continent’s summer that occurs during America’s winter, opt to visit South America’s under-the-radar towns in lieu of traditional city visits this holiday season.

Valparaíso, Chile
Just 90 minutes northwest of cosmopolitan Santiago, Valparaíso is the capital city’s bohemian cousin, a tried-and-true nesting ground of local and international artists from Chile’s past and present. This UNESCO World Heritage Site should not be passed over during a trip to Chile, as this city springs to life amidst colorful streets where walls are decked in intricate graffiti murals: Every turn of a corner, a new, larger-than-life painting awaits. Get the inside scoop on each artist’s signature style during a tour with Valpo Street Art Tours. Local artists will deliver you to the best artworks in Valparaíso’s labyrinth of alleyways, undergrounds streets, and staircases. To explore the city further, base yourself at one of Valparaiso’s many boutique hotels, such as Hotel Brighton, Hotel Fauna, Casa Galos, or Hotel Palacio Astoreca; But for the best view, opt for a stay at the hilltop Casa Higueras in Cerro Alegre, a storied 1920s mansion overlooking Valparaíso’s port, a remnant of the town’s aristocratic past. Peer at surrounding homes as laundry billows in the wind, staying up to watch the city’s surreal sunsets. While in Cerro Alegre, venture to neighboring Palacio Baburizza, the city’s fine arts museum, before walking to Cerro Concepción, home to Valparaíso’s first funicular, a mountaintop cable car built in 1883. Delve further into the hills for a tour of La Sebastiana, a former home turned museum of beloved Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. A reading of his poetry is sure to cement your romantic entrancement with this Chilean outpost. Dine alfresco at Valparaíso’s best seafood restaurant, La Caperucita y El Lobo, and enjoy a nightcap at the lively La Piedra Feliz or the laid-back El Viaje.

Medellín, Colombia
There’s no refuting the allure of Colombian cities like metropolitan Bogotá and seaside Cartagena, but Colombia’s second-largest city may be its most beautiful: Tucked within the country’s coffee-growing heartland and surrounded by a backdrop of ridged mountains, Medellín is making a new reputation for itself as Colombia’s burgeoning arts city, home to a vibrant festival culture and the country’s leading museums. During a visit, explore the newly inaugurated Museo de Arte Moderno to view works by the late Medellín-born artist Débora Arango, then venture to Museo de Antioquia to view pieces by artist and sculptor Fernando  Botero, also a native of Medellín, known for his characteristic boterismo style. To view Medellín’s up-and-coming artists, hit the streets for a tour of Comuna 13, once the most dangerous neighborhood in the city. But due to an urban renewal project which rooted the Metrocable system and escalator in the district, the area once only accessible by a steep hike up 350 stairs is now easily traversable and a joy to see, as it’s slathered in fresh paint by Colombia’s most ingenious muralists. During your stay in Medellín, opt for a room at the Charlee Hotel, the perfect base point from which to explore the city’s vibrant bar and restaurant scene. For a taste of local fare, try cazuela de fríjoles at Ajiacos y Mondongos Exquisitos, a local bean dish from Medellín. For fine dining, opt for a table at OCI.Mde to share plates of the restaurant’s famed short ribs, braised for 12 hours in a lemon-and-chili caramel sauce. For a post-dinner night out, start at Panorama’s outdoor terrace to sip cocktails under treetops before dancing to reggaeton and champeta at Bolivar.

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