Saturday, January 30, 2016

Santiago - Day 2

Today was winery day.  I signed up through Uncorked, a wine tour company based in Santiago for an all day tour of 3 wineries in Casablanca Valley.  Located between Santiago and Valparaiso, this valley is one of the newer areas for wine growing.  The vinyards have only been around for about 25 years.  We visited Bodega Re, Loma Larga and Quintay.  All three are boutique wineries.  Bodega Re enjoys using older methods of producing wine - they ferment and age in clay barrels.  Loma Larga defies the white wine region by growing and producing some very delicious red wines - especially a coastal Malbec that tastes fantastic yet is very different from your typical Argentinian Malbecs.  I liked it so much I bought a bottle to take on the ship with me.  Quintay is where we enjoyed a phenomenal lunch - each course was paired with a different and delicious wine.  The Syrah was hands down the best wine of the day.

After three wineries and traipsing through vinyards a good part of the day, our small group was pretty mellow on the ride back to Santiago.  Most of us slumbered a little bit, lulled off to nap-land by the wine and the back and forth of the van on the highway into Santiago.  It was a pretty great day!

Here's some pictures I captured.

These 3 below are from the balsamic room.  Bodega Re makes an absolutely divine balsamic wine - we tasted it as a syrupy dip for our bread while we were tasting wines.  They also make sweet wines from it - my favorite was the plum, but our group seemed to prefer the pear the best.

The small barrels below are all made from different woods, so we got the opportunity to smell each wine - you can really tell the difference based on the barrel's wood.

These were the various fruits being fermented.

Clay "barrels" at Bodega Re.

How can I not be happy around wine barrels???  !!

 This was a very cool decanter.  Kind of reminds me of bongs from long ago.... although those didn't "decant" wine.....

Our group.  Don't we all look happy?  And this was just at winery #1!!!

My favorite wine of the day.

Great lunch!  This was course #3.  We started with a ceviche, followed by an amazing salmon and eggplant dish, followed by this beautiful braised in wine beef and potato dish.

And this was dessert..... yum!

Well, hey - let's take a little taste before bottling, shall we???

The grapes are so pretty.

Friday, January 29, 2016

South America - Day 1 - Santiago

Time to fly!  Here's some pics from my 6:15 AM flight out of Sacramento heading towards Houston, on leg 1 of 3 to Santiago:

Sunrise over the Sierras
 Crop circles???  !!!!

Beautiful sights over Utah

The mighty river from 38,000 feet

After a combined 19 hours of 3 flights (13 hours in the air plus 6 hours layovers), and only 2 hours of sleep prior to going to the airport yesterday morning, I finally arrived in Santiago, Chile at 6:15 this morning.  It's 5 hours ahead of California time.  I was so confused.  But first off the plane to arrive at "foreign" immigration, and a lovely lady representing HAL was there waiting with my name on a placard as I rounded the corner from immigration, my passport freshly stamped with "Chile" in it.

45 minutes later, after one of the smoothest landing procedures later (my luggage was ALREADY waiting for me by the time I got to the carousel, and remember, I was at the front of the crowd exiting the aircraft), I arrived at my hotel, the Sheraton, and they were kind enough to check me in to my room hours early (normal checkin is 3 PM).  I settled in and then took a 4 hour nap.  Whew, that helped.

I joined a 4 hour city tour in the afternoon and took the following pictures:

I love the contrast between old and new architecture in the city:  the Cathedral is to the left and a government building on the right of the new glossy business structure.

Some photos from inside the Catholic Cathedral

This was a silver and marble praying altar.  So beautiful!

Town square - Plaza de Armas

Inside a combo shopping and museum mall- love the artwork that was showcased.

We stopped off at the racetrack and we got an unexpected close up of some of the horses getting ready to race.  My goodness, up close they are incredible and beautiful animals!

I made a new friend.  Santiago has a large population of dogs that live solely on the street.  They are sweet and kind and loving, but hungry and love affection and food.

I don't know what this building was but it was cool to see its architecture.

Views from San Cristobal hilltop.  That tall building on the right is 300 meters high, the tallest in all of South America.  It's called Castanero.

 Needed some boost.  Water and Wine is really fine.

There's some lovely graffiti art in this city.

This was a really interesting sculpture inside the cathedral.

More inside shots of the cathedral

I got to see Easter Island after all!  I had to cancel part of my South America trip because I had to have some serious surgery in December, and one part of my original trip had been to spend 3 days in Easter Island before coming to Santiago.  I couldn't fly that soon after surgery, so I was bummed I had to cancel the trip.  Imagine my joy when we came across this temporary exhibition about Easter Island during our city tour today!

Santiago is becoming one of many world cities that have set up these rent-a-bike stations throughout the city.  Neat idea.

Some views from Cristobal Hill of the city.

My first selfie of the trip!

Another city view, with the Andes in the background.