I spent today on a guided tour. It was so nice being driven around seeing the sights. We traveled through the central valley region of Chile to the coastal city, Valparaiso (about 75 miles). We left the hotel this morning at around 9:30 am. I traveled with three people I met from Minnesota who were here on an Andes ski trip. They were really nice travel companions to have. I enjoyed their company and their enthusiasm for the area. Our two guides were two local people from Santiago who were also fun and very knowledgeable. We buzzed around Santiago on our way out of town. Once we were out of Santiago and all the buildings disappeared, we began to breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the scenery. We traveled through a 3 km tunnel that opened up to fertile Curacaví Valley. Here agriculture dominates the landscape. We passed almond orchards in full bloom, orange and olive trees, and many other crops.
As we continued on, we passed through another large tunnel, which took us to Casablanca Valley, a valley famous for wineries. We decided to stop at one called Vina Emiliana. It is an organic winery and uses chickens for pest control and a variety of other biological methods to produce the grapes used in their wine. I had a glass of red wine at 11 am (you bet!), that was a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Mourvedre. Did you catch all that? It was really delicious. I really wanted to taste some Chilean wines while I was heere, so it was a real treat to be able to stop at a winery.
From the Casablanca Valley we continued on to Valparaiso, a city with rich history and heritage. The famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lived here as did many artists and poets who gained inspiration from the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. There are about 500,000 people that live in Valparaiso. They all live up on one of 40 hills that make up the city. Each dwelling is unique and colorful. Graffiti and art work covered all walls and flat surfaces and each neighborhood had little grocery stores and restaurants tucked in between everything else. It was quite beautiful. I would of loved to spend a week here exploring the neighborhood streets and alleys. This city is a photographers dream.
We spent the rest of our day exploring the city buildings, squares, and beaches. We ate lunch on the water at an old castle that is now a restaurant. On the drive home we stopped at another winery, called Vina Mar. The day was a lot of fun! I am so glad I joined the tour. Here are a few pictures from the day!
Above. Emiliana Vineyards knew were were coming so they set a tasting table for us.
Above. Finally a picture of me. I'm tasting my delicious glass of Coyam.
Above. A typical view from Valparaiso up a narrow street to the neighborhoods on the hillsides.
Above. Beautiful graffiti was everywhere to be seen. Graffiti in Valparaiso seemed to be praised not rejected.
Above. More graffiti along the street and on the residences. I loved this pink dinosaur.
Above. Not sure who this is, but it sure is colorful! I think the tour guide told us he is a reggae artist.
Above. Chilean Naval headquarters building.
Above. My dream houses overlooking the ocean.
Above. A mysterious statue from Easter Island and a not so mysterious subject.