Made it to Santiago, Chile!

VALAPARISO, CHILE – Valparaiso is a port town but has that bohemian/artistic feel to it with wall art everywhere. 

1Chile12-21-16Valparaiso

Our guide, Boris, told us that artist will approach you to paint your wall…you pay for the paint as you are getting an “artist” to do the painting. Both Mike and I really like the little we saw of Valparaiso. You see wall are everywhere on so many of the buildings and walls

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4Chile12-21-16Valparaiso

6Chile12-21-16Valparaiso#2

5Chile12-21-16Valparaiso

Boris said Valparaiso, a city of about 250,000, is a major city, seaport, and educational center in Chile. Greater Valparaíso is the second largest metropolitan area in the country and is located 69.5 miles northwest of Santiago.

2Chile12-21-16Valparaiso

Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaíso was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003.  It is built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways.

7Chile12-21-16Valparaiso

The weather was perfect when we docked. Valparaíso has a very mild Mediterranean climate. The summer is essentially dry, but the city is affected by fog from the Humboldt Current during most of the year. 

We were on a tour so only saw a very small part of Valparaiso. We drove through the main section of town and then down to the fish market.

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13Chile12-21-16ValparaisoSusan with Boris

SANTIAGO, CHILE – I fell in love with Santiago the moment I was it, at least the area we stayed. Santiago is a huge city of around 8,000,000 people and has many different neighborhoods. The area we stayed was Bella Vista and reminded me of what I imagine a European city to look and feel like with all the tables and umbrellas on the street. Our first day, December 21st was spend unpacking and then wandering around our hostel.

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104Santiago12-22-16AroundTown

2Santiago12-22-16HostelWhere we ate breakfast at our hostel every morning 

The next day we took the funicular up to the top of San Christobal Hill which is 2,280-foot-tall. On the summit is a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and a 72 foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary.

*77Santiago12-22-16SanChristobalHillFunicular

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*30Santiago12-22-16SanChristobalHillMike

*23Santiago12-22-16SanChristobalHillSusan

There is also Parque Metropolitano, which we didn’t visit, covering 1,800 acres is the largest urban park in Chile and one of the largest in the world. By comparison, New York’s Central Park has only 843 acres. Also accessable by the funicular, is the Chilean National Zoo and a Japanese-style garden, neither of these did we visit…next time.

SANTIAGO WINE TOUR – We visited two different wineries; Santa Rita and Concha y Toro. Both were very beautiful and each with wonderful but different wines.

Although we sampled several wines, both reds and whites, we were introduced to Carmenere and fell in love with it. So much so we brought some back with us.

A little history on Carmener – It is a dark-skinned grape variety originally from the vineyards of Bordeaux. That is until the 1860s, when the phylloxera louse (to which Carmenere vines are particularly susceptible) arrived in Europe and destroyed all the Carmenere vines.

Prior to this, in pre-phylloxera 19th-Century Bordeaux, enterprising Chilean vignerons had taken cuttings from the region’s vineyards. A high proportion of what they believed to be Merlot, turned out to be the similar-looking Carmenere, a long-established variety with waning popularity. The leaves of Merlot and Carmenere vines are so alike that the error was not uncovered until 1994, after DNA research was conducted in Montpellier.

OK, so much for the history, now go find some Carmenere and give it a try for yourself.

SANTA RITA WINERY

We were sitting and waiting for the tour to start and there were two dogs milling around. We thought it was because they wanted some of the bagel we were eating. This dog started growling and chased the other dog away then curled up at Mike’s feet. When Mike tried to give it some of the bagel he wouldn’t eat any. Guess he was just trying to protect Mike from the other dog.

CONCHA Y TORO   

We were used to all the festivities surrounding Christmas in Cuenca and were surprised to learn they don’t celebrate Christmas that way in Chile, at least in Santiago. We were told most people work until around 3:00pm Christmas Eve when most businesses shut down. Families then spend the afternoon getting ready for the family celebration at midnight. We understand there is lots of food, and I am sure, church, although that wasn’t mentioned. Christmas Day is spent resting and recuperating from the night before. So, we spend Christmas Day and the day before just wandering around the areas close to where we were staying.

The 26th it poured, the only day with rain and no blue sky we had during our week in Santiago. We are taking a tour tomorrow and leaving the next day so this gave us the time to stay in and pack.

Stay tuned for the tour tomorrow.

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