Location: Santiago, Valparaiso, Santa Cruz & Armerillo, Chile
We completed our first week in Chile and really like it. The wine regions are picturesque and the wine is good and inexpensive. We’ve even enjoyed a couple of bottles of Chardonnay, which is rare for us. The seafood is good. The selection of brands is more familiar in the supermarkets, helping us find a few comfort foods like Nature Valley Oats & Honey granola bars. We’ve focused on the central region of Chile and we’ve been hopping around from place to place to get a good sense of the country. We’ve experienced both a mix of urban and rural areas. And, believe it or not, our best day was spent with a black Labrador Retriever named Chachi (pronounced “Catch-Eye”), whom we now affectionately refer to as “Chile Dog”.
The first wine region we visited was the Casablanca Valley
, where they focus on white wines dominated by Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. We toured the grounds of Emiliana
, a winery dedicated to producing Organic & Biodynamic wines. There were lots of birds roaming the grounds. We also visited Casas Del Bosque
for a tasting where we liked the wines the best.
Next, we headed for the coast to visit the funky colorful town of Valparaiso. Navigating the maze of steep winding streets was quite the challenge. Paved streets would suddenly end with an impassable section of dirt and rocks and then continue on again a few blocks later.
We moved inland to scout out Santa Cruz, which serves the famous Colchogua Valley wine region. We liked what we saw and plan to return for an extended stay in another week.
We then headed further west past San Clemente towards the mountains so that we could get a nature fix and do some hiking in Parque Natural Tricahue and swimming in the Maule River to cool off as the temperatures were getting up into the 90’s. When we checked in with our host, Dimitri Lemaire, to get more information on the 20 km hike we had planned for the day, he asked if we’d like to take his dog, Chachi, along with us. We said sure and he became our new best friend right up until we left the next day. Not only did he join us for the hike, helping guide us part of the way, he joined us in the river and also slept outside our cabin ready to go again when we awoke the next morning.
We spent a night in Santiago at the InterContinental Hotel
. In a word, it was luxurious and we felt spoiled as they put us up in the top floor of their club tower. The appetizers and wine served up in their club lounge during happy hour were so good that we made a dinner out of it. They followed it up with an excellent breakfast buffet in the morning.
We spent 2 nights at Mirador B & B
in Valparaiso on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our room included a small kitchen that we took advantage of and a balcony overlooking the city and harbor where we enjoyed our home cooked meal. There was no A/C but it cooled off nicely at night as long as we kept the windows open. Thus, we could also hear the dogs barking at night and a rooster crowing in the morning. The breakfast served up in the morning was nice and included fresh filtered coffee, which made Rich happy.
We spent 1 night at Hostal Cruz Del Valle
in Santa Cruz. It was very nice with the one exception that there was no A/C. They provided a fan, which provided some relief. Once again, barking dogs and crowing roosters serenaded us. They also served up a nice breakfast.
We spent 2 nights in a cabin at Refugio Del Tricahue
in Armerillo. The eco-friendly cabin was minimally powered with solar energy. There was no A/C, hot water, Internet nor power to charge our devices. This is about as rustic as we care to ge
Food and Drink:
Our most enjoyable dinner of the trip thus far took place at Oda Pacifico Restaurant
in Valparaiso. We love seafood and they blew us away with their preparation of Ceviches, Talapia & Sea Bass that we paired with a local bottle of Chardonnay from Casas del Bosque, which we had visited earlier in the day.
We got a Sushi fix in Santa Cruz. Overall, it was pretty good but we were disappointed when they explained that our Tuna sashimi was delayed because the Tuna had to thaw out. So much for fresh seafood. We’re also including a shot of one of our improvised home-cooked cabin meals.
Once again, we opted for a bus to take us from Mendoza to Santiago over the Los Libertadores Pass. This was a 9 hour trip with 2.5 of the hours spent at the Argentina/Chile border crossing going through immigration and customs. We made this trip during the day so that we could admire the beauty of crossing the Andes. It was stunning. We also selected the bus over flying as it saved us a ton of money. If we had flown into Santiago, in addition to expensive airfares, we would have had to pay an additional $160 each in reciprocity fees to enter Chile. Fortunately, these fees are not collected when you enter the country at a border crossing by land.We rented a nicer car this time from Avis. It was another Chevy but this Sonic LT had A/C and keyless entry, which is one of those features we’d really missed. We put about 750 km on it in our first week.
We’d like to thank Ximena Pacheco for her recommendations on wineries and restaurants, which resulted in our wonderful experience at Oda Pacifico restaurant. We’d also like to thank Brendon Keys of BK Wines in Australia for putting us in touch with Ximena.
For Your Amusement:
The Mirador B&B in Valparaiso was locked down like a fortress. We needed a set of 6 keys to gain access to our room.
Our cabin in the mountains was advertised as having a fully equipped kitchen. We had a good laugh when we saw the tiny solar powered refrigerator.
Highlights: Dinner in Valparasio and Chile Dog
Next Up: We delve deeper into Chile’s central valley wine regions.