City Nomad Life

South America Recap: Our 5 Best And 5 Worst City Experiences

October 23, 2017
Cartagena: Canon Selfie!

BY JAMIE
You guys… this is our 60th blog post on TwoSundowners! Can you believe it? We can’t 😀 Sure, we have persistently fed content to this page but 60 blog posts are a proud number. We have just wrapped up our last story from South America a few days ago. From Chile we flew straight to Australia, we didn’t even have an overlay. So that is it for now, bye bye South America. It was a pleasure and adventure for the past 6 months. There are still many countries that we haven’t visited so we will be back for sure. While talking about our adventures we realized that we have a pretty unanimous opinion on our favorite and least favorite cities in South America. Let’s do this (the order is not significant):

Our 5 Favorite Cities In South America

Medellin

Medellin from above

Medellin from above

Coming to Medellin from Peru was like arriving in a Western city. In retrospect (since we can compare it again to an actual Western country now) this is not completely accurate but the quality of life just differs so much from Peru to Medellin. I’m saying Medellin on purpose and not Colombia since we have only experienced this in Medellin and nowhere else 😉 You can easily find vegetarian options in restaurants, there are (almost) no safety concerns, everybody seems to WANT you to be there, the city is beautiful. We had a great time in Medellin and I wouldn’t mind coming back one day for an extended period of time. You can read more about it here.

 

Lima

Lima Seaside

Seaside of Lima

Oceaaaaaaan wherever you look! Lima is high up the list since it was the first city in South America that we have visited and we immediately had a great impression. In comparison to other places in Peru, the city is open-minded, safe and clean (at least Barranco and Miraflores). You can find great food anywhere and it doesn’t matter so much if you are looking for vegetarian, meat or fish. Lima is also a great base for various explorations. If you want to know a bit more about what we did during one month in the capital of Peru you should read our 10 Things To To In Lima Blog Post

 

Valparaiso

Valparaiso: Colorful Houses

Valparaiso And Its Colorful Houses

With its rich history and creative vibe, Valparaiso is very high on my personal list. In the blog post about Valparaiso, I have tried to explain the fascination I have with this place 😉 In short: Valparaiso is located right on the ocean and has a pirate-y feel to it. The locals love to show people around and create beautiful art. Valparaiso’s government has a completely tolerant take on street art, seeing it as an enrichment of the city. Therefore every inch of the center is covered in art. Convinced yet?


Huaraz

Huaraz: Just outside the city

Just outside the city

Huaraz is super un-touristy, but still in the middle of a beautiful and mountainous area. Therefore you can avoid the crowds and have a more authentic Peruvian experience – but still go for amazing hikes and try the local food. For maybe a third of what you’d pay in Cusco. Lukas especially loved this place, it’s his number one in South America. There were some running/dog clashes that were rather unpleasant but they were not annoying enough to spoil the place 🙂 We wrote a bit more about our experience here.

 

Santiago

Santiago: Cityscape

Santiago De Chile Cityscape During Sunset With Mountains In The Back

I think we liked Santiago de Chile so much because it made us feel so normal. Chile is really different from other South American countries we have visited, it feels modern, developed and civilized. Coming from Europe directly there would’ve probably felt a bit boring. But coming from Colombia it was a big dose of “normal” that we desperately needed. A plus for Santiago is also that it is the capital of a country – but is surrounded by mountains and full of parks – so you can escape the city whenever you like. Check out some cool things to do in Santiago.

 

Our 5 LEAST Favorite Cities In South America

 

La Paz

Bolivia Running: La Paz

This is La Paz! Up and down guaranteed

The highest capital in the world was also our least favorite place to visit. In retrospect, we still like it because it was also the most “unusual” experience for us and probably seemed the most adventurous. But we were hardly able to do anything due to the altitude. Vegetarian food was hard to get and cooking for ourselves too since there were no supermarkets. Even though we did some cool things in the capital of Bolivia we were both mostly sitting out our time there, waiting to get to cooler places again.

 

Santa Marta

Harbor Santa Marta

Someone thought it would be nice to snorkel in Santa Marta

Ugh, Santa Marta. I think Santa Marta was my least favorite place of them all. The main reason for us not to like the place was the heat. That’s admittedly a bit unfair, we were just not used to Caribbean heatwaves. But on the second look, Santa Marta did not make up with anything for being kinda shitty. Even after spending a whole week there we couldn’t find even one place that we enjoyed. But we tried, that is for sure. We went to the beach, went out for drinks and dinner, went to all the shopping centers the small town has to offer. Sure, I think we could probably say “Santa Marta has a surprisingly high amount of shopping centers” – but that should not be the only defining quality of a place. If you are going to be stuck in Santa Marta ever you might want to check out our survival guide 🙂

 

Cartagena

Cartagena: View over Cartagena

View over Cartagena

Cartagena was just meh… it is a cool base to explore some Caribbean islands. But it has more safety issues than Medellin and apart from the historic center, it is not very interesting. After we saw the center it was a bit like “and now what?” for us. We just didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We came to Cartagena after already being to some Caribbean islands and truly just wanted to see the city for a week. But Cartagena seemed to us more like a place for one day, not for more than that. We’ve also expressed this feeling in this rather boring summarization of our stay in Cartagena.

 

Cusco

View over Cusco

Looking At Cusco From A View Point In San Blas

No one we meet has negative feelings about Cusco. That is weird for us since we really didn’t like the place very much. Yes, the surrounding nature and the closeness to amazing mountains is a big plus. But the city by itself is highly overrated. In our opinion only, of course. The only driving factor behind anything is tourism and that is quite frankly just exhausting. I hate it so much if everyone just sees you as a money bag and can’t even talk a normal sentence with you. I just want to point out that I am not blaming the locals for this. It’s no one’s fault that this place has grown to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of South America. Of course, the locals treat you like a purse on two legs and don’t want to talk to you. It is just not a place where a tourist-looking person can live. That’s all I want to say 😉

 

And you know what? That’s it. We don’t need to force it to make a top 5 list. South America is awesome, each place in its own way. It’s colorful and dusty, it smells great and stinks, it dirty and pure and also exciting and really exhausting at the same time. We will be back!!!


Also published on Medium.

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