We've often heard that Valparaiso is the "San Francisco of South America". Whoever came up with that, apparently only visited the Tenderloin.
Valparaiso is what would happen if the Haight and Venice had a child out of wedlock, and put it up for adoption to be raised in foster care in Queens. I have never actually been to Queens, nor know anything about it. But it sounds like an appropriate comparison.
Granted, there is a very small touristy area that is absolutely adorable. Narrow streets winding through charming hills packed with cute cafes and bars (three times the price of their neighboring counterparts). If someone stayed at a hotel in this part of town and never left, perhaps it feels a little like SF.
Admittedly, Valparaiso really started to grow on us after a few days. We learned to navigate the busses and trollies. We found parts of town that aren't overly touristy yet lack the grime of the rest of the city. We accepted the missed photo ops in places where it was too sketch to pull out a camera. And overall, we are really glad we decided to make the trip. Love it or hate it, it's totally a unique place that's worth checking out.
But, I still don't buy the San Francisco comparison.