So from the searing heat of Rio, we headed to Santiago in Chile, which lived up to its name by being pretty cold - wearing only shorts and a T-shirt on the plane was certainly not a great idea. We were essentially only in Chile en route to New Zealand but our itinerary meant that we had two days to experience Santiago.
We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to visit one of the many vineyards in this country, building its reputation for quality wines, so we visited the Undurraga vineyard about 40 km south of Santiago. Our lack of Spanish finally caught up with us as we tried to get transport out to the vineyard resulting in a bit of a wild goose chase from the bus station to the Metro station and back again. We eventually got on the right bus, which had the effect of calming down a previously quite agitated Sarah and somehow managed to get off at the right stop with a bit of assistance from the driver. The tour around the vineyard was really interesting, helped by our knowledgeable Sommelier, who spoke excellent English and even let us take a sneaky gulp of
Carminere (a grape variety specific to Chile) straight from the barrel. Apparently the 2008 harvest was the best so far for this wine and we would recommend it if only the Chileans actually exported it to Europe. The tour took us through the vines themselves, to the processing plant and the cellars and finished with a tasting of 4 types of wine. Clearly we are now experts and can distinguish a Cab Sav from a Merlot (Sarah reckons she could anyway) but we didnt quite master the art of actually spitting out (why waste it?). We were only duped into buying two bottles but at USD8 a bottle it´s not so bad.
A little the worse for wear, we returned to Santiago for dinner. We sampled the local specialities of "poor man´s steak" steak, onions, chips and two fried eggs and sea bass which were both awesome.
Flying to New Zealand this evening, so we spent the day looking around the city and seeing some of the main sights. Santiago is a really modern city in the mold of Buenos Aires and it is a shame that we have only had a couple of days here, let alone
see the rest of Chile. The surroundings are stunning backed by the snow capped Andes on one side and the coast hills on the other. The view from the Cerro Santa Lucia (a mound in the city centre) is truly spectacular.
We have now come to the end of our 7 weeks in South America. We have travelled thousands of miles on every imaginable mode of transport (other than a chopper), seen beaches, deserts, mountains and rainforest. We have been in several of the biggest cities in the world and to some of the remotest places on earth. We have seen natural phenomena (Galapagos, Amazon and Iguazu falls) and man made wonders (Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer). We swam with piranhas, sharks and of course sealions and seen nature closer than we imagined you could get. We have eaten fruits we had never heard of and far too much in general (bang goes Goughy¨s plan of getting skinny while travelling). All in all it has been an amazing experience, although we have not seen anywhere near as much as we could have given time. There were some places where we stayed too long and others where we will definitely
return to to see more of the country (Chile and Argentina in particular).
On to phase 2 of the adventure, which we are really excited about. The board bags are in transit and we have secured a place to live on the lake near Queenstown for the next 8 weeks.
From here we may not blog as much as we have done as blow by blow accounts of every one of our days on the slopes would get pretty dull for you (Joe nailed another 720 etc.) but we will stay in touch and plan to get all of our photos published soon.
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