Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chilean Vacay 2015, Part Uno.....Santiago and the Colchagua Valley

Oh hey!  Once again it's been a looooong time since my last post but you're in for a doozy now!  We spent three weeks in December cruising the coast of Chile with our friends, the Rose's and you're going to get to hear all about it!  Mr. Rose, (you can call him Marty) passed the incredibly long hours at sea by writing a little travelogue and sending it off to friends.  It was so great that I'm turning the narrative duties over to him and I'll be handling the visual responsibilities.  However, it wouldn't be me if I didn't throw in my two cents every now and then so when you see italics, that'll be me butting in!  Strap yourself's a long one!  Let's get started.

We landed in Santiago, Chile on Friday morning, December  4.  

Santiago  -  frankly, forgettable.  It's a beautiful desert valley surrounded by the Andes, but you couldn't really see them because the smog was choking.  Did a quick tour for a half day then settled into a sidewalk bar drinking and eating tapas.  Then jetlag settled in so early to bed.
I don't know if the Pisco Sour is Chile's "national drink" per se, but it's really fucking popular so I'll admit that I gave it two or maybe three chances, but yeah.....sour.  I also want to give a shout out/high five/pat on the back to our fabulous travel agent extraordinaire/cousin, Carolyn Baber of Baber Travel in Reidsville, NC.  As you'll read at the end of this post, the Rose's and we have travelled extensively all over the world together and we've been able to do this because we both expect  a very high quality and personalized experience.  Carolyn delivers.  She arranges all of our hotels (that don't involve Exclusive Resorts), private tours, private transportation, airline reservations, etc.  She finds the best purveyors out there to make sure we have the type of service she knows we expect.   I want to give her reviews on her bookings so her future clients have the benefit of our experience.

That was a long-winded way to say that we all really enjoyed our hotel in Santiago, the Singular Lastarria....Beautiful lobby, spacious rooms, clean, attentive service and most of all a really comfy bed!  

The remainder of this post (until we hop onto The World which is Exclusive Resorts)  are all Carolyn arranged tours.

Saturday we headed South to wine country....The Colchagua (pronounced Col cha wa) Valley  --  the Napa Valley of Chile.  Bigger, prettier than Napa....much less built up....spectacular in short.  Lots of agriculture beyond wines but the vineyards are many and very attractive.  Everything neat and tidy.  First winery, Casa Silva, was out of a movie  --  a century-old series of Mediterranean buildings for a big winery owned by an aristocratic family.  Really cool.....had caves and all.

We loved their Sauvignon Blanc....purchased a case for the boat!

If you're interested in touring the Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva would be a fabulous base of operations (along with LaPostolle).  They have a 7 bedroom guest house that is beyond old-world charming!

The scent of this honeysuckle was intoxicating!

The next stop was lunch with an amazing view.....vineyards as far as the eye could Bistro Alfredo located on the property of Montes Winery.

Alfresco dining at its finest.....and since we'd started tasting wine at 11:00 am, plenty of Montes wines to go with the tasty food!

Then off to tour Montes.....the antithesis to Casa Silva.....brand new, modern facility with tons of steel tanks.

I highly recommend the Montes Alpha series.....we not only bought several bottles of the Carmenere and Malbec, but a Montes representative had been on The World before we boarded so the were well stocked with not only the Alpha but the Kaiken as well.  All outstanding wines.

We then went onto a very high end and famous winery, LaPostolle.  Not only are they making world class wines, but they also have a four cottage resort with a world-class spa and dining facility  -  again for a max of four couples  -  and we were two of them!.  It was on the side of the hill overlooking the entire valley.  

These casitas wer FAB U LOUS!  The only negatives were no air conditioning, which would be a HUGE problem for me if it would have been any warmer, and you see that huge window in the middle pic?  That's the master bathroom and there are absolutely NO WINDOW COVERINGS AT ALL!!!  Yes, it's pretty secluded, but jeez, I refused to turn the lights on in there when it was dark out.

Toured the winery.....unbelievable wine cellar

We then had an incredible dinner alfresco on the patio before retiring to our very private, luxurious casita.  We also may have purchased 2.5 cases of wine for the cruise!!  If you can get your hands on some Clos Apalta and you're willing to splurge a some and cellar it for a special occasion!

Sunday morning we walked through the La Postolle vineyards for over an hour to walk off some of the calories....

We were then picked up by our drivers for the four-hour drive to Valparaiso.  In a pattern that has repeated itself for the last four trips we have taken together, it turned into Toad's wild ride with two characters....a driver, and for some reason, a translator  -  who drove us crazy  -  both figuratively and literally through the back country of Chile (and later did our own analysis and could have made the trip in half the time following real highways!)  The countryside is similar to middle California  -  very pretty little towns, quite a lot of nice homes and some squalid little villages, but nothing like Mexico and certainly not third world.  By the time we got to Valparaiso we had headaches and were a bit grumpy and ended up in a huge traffic jam because there was a major soccer match scheduled that afternoon.  Finally got to the dock around 4:00 pm and the bosom of The World  -  pure luxury and never ending coddling.  Had a late lunch of burgers and wine bought some crackers and pate and then spent the evening on our deck.

Come back tomorrow.....we finally hit the high seas!!

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