This past April I ventured on an epic trip across South America spanning Argentina, Uruguay, Chilé, and the small Central American country Panama. It was truly nothing short of amazing. It was my second go round in Argentina but the rest was completely unknown to me. Chile had been on my list for a while and I desired to visit Uruguay because I knew virtually nothing about the place. The catalyst for the trip was an insane flight deal I found from D.C to Chile for less than $300. I flew into Santiago but spent most of my time in Viña Del Mar, which is about hour and a half from Santiago. Santiago is inland whereas Viña is along the coast. I did not have a set itinerary beforehand because I like to arrive and feel the place out as I go. The weather was warm but not hot enough to swim in the Ocean. Valparaiso is a cute area which is known for the street art and amazing views overlooking the city. The area has many cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Santiago has a different vibe as it’s more congested than the beach town of Vina. It feels like a capital city with all of the grit and hustle and bustle. Chilenos come in all shades of beautiful. The empanadas are too die for and you must try the national cocktail, the terremoto ( translation earthquake). The terremoto is made with fermented wine and pineapple ice cream. Trust me it is as delicious as it sounds. After exploring Chile, I headed to Uruguay.
Montevideo is one of the least populated capital cities I’ve ever visited. Despite the constant flow of people going to and fro, the swell of people was not overwhelming. I immediately noticed how the Uruguayan dialect of Spanish sounded almost identical to the Argentinean dialect. I was also quite surprised to see how popular tango dancing is, I naively associated tango dancing only with Argentina. After exploring Montevideo, I took a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia is popular with tourists because of the quaint cafes, cobblestone roads, and old town feel. It feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Punta del Este is another city which is popular with tourists. It has been called the Hampton’s of South America. The summer months of December though February, South Americans from neighboring Brazil and Argentina flock to its beaches. Uruguay is a great place to visit if you can squeeze it in your itinerary. Two to three days is sufficient to explore.
On the way back to the U.S, I had a 24 hour layover in Panama. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Panama Canal. It’s a bit outside the city but it’s ideal if you plan to explore the canal. Since it was my first time in Panama, I definitely wanted to explore as much as I could. I did a bit of research and decided to head to Casco Viejo. I took an uber from the hotel which was about $10. Panama also uses USD so no need to worry about exchanging money. Casco Viejo feels a lot like New Orleans. There are lots of restaurants, hotels, cafes, and shops in the area. It also offers breathtaking views of the water.