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Published: February 15th 2017
Hello. We have to begin by reporting something that has never happened before on one of our cruises. Last night we got a phone call from our son-in-law Ron Chinn. He was calling to tell us that Stephanie had to have emergency surgery on Monday morning. He said she was doing alright and did not want us to return home. We gave it a lot of thought and decided to hear what he had to say when he called again this evening. In between calls Valerie sent an e-mail that Stephanie seemed to be doing alright and that she and Elizabeth were thinking about going to visit on Friday, but it did not seem urgent to get to her right away. When Ron called this evening, Stephanie was also on the phone and told us she was tired but feeling better. That helped relieve some of our worry, so we will continue with the trip and board the ship tomorrow.
Now, Happy Valentine’s Day! That is as close as anyone is going to get to a Valentine from us this year – sorry about that.
We went down to the pool-side buffet this morning and
got a nice hot breakfast. It was pretty much the same thing as yesterday, but there was enough variety of choices to find plenty of things we wanted to eat today. Anyway, we started our activities with a full stomach but pretty tired since we did not sleep very well last night.
Today we had two tours scheduled. The first tour began by boarding our bus at 10:00. There were about 24 people on our bus and roughly that many on a second bus. We both headed off to a vineyard about an hour south of Santiago. We went to the Concho Toro Winery which they told us is the 2nd
largest in the world. This region primarily produces red wines and white wines are more common in areas further west (toward Valparaiso).
We arrived around 11:00 and had a tour, tasting, and shopping until nearly 1:00. Some of the interesting things we learned were that there are roughly 11,000 acres of grape vines and they produce a large number of different wines. They actually grow about 28 different varieties of grapes. In one area of the tour they had planted several rows of
with Sauvignon Blanc wine
each kind of grape and had signs labeling each row. We were encouraged to wander through this section and pick/sample some of the grapes right off the vine. They are close to being ripe but still about 3 weeks early, so the taste was not as sweet as David would have expected. They showed us the home of the original owner of the vineyard. These days 80% of the company stock is controlled by two people (not a family member) so it is kind of a publicly traded company but realistically still privately own by these two guys.
After walking around the “park area for visitors” we started the tour of the cellars and commenced the actual wine tasting. They gave us a sample of one white wine and two red wines. We were given our “tasting glasses” as souvenirs, complete with little cardboard carrying cases. It will be a miracle if these make it all the way back to St Louis without being broken, but we have them for now. We bought two bottles of white wine which we generally prefer over the red wines. We will be able to take them onboard the ship without
Concha Toro Winery
Sampling Cabernet Sauvignon
any charges. If we wanted to take any more onboard, there would be a $15 per bottle surcharge.
After the winery we went to a nearby restaurant and had a very filling lunch. We started with a bubbly wine drink but which they said also had a little brandy, some confectionary sugar and a small amount of egg-white. This frothy concoction reminded us of the Ice Tea and Limonada we had with dinner last night, so maybe that mystery has been solved. Then we were served something delicious that resembled an empanada in shape but like a quesadilla in taste. Next we had a tomato soup course followed by an entrée of a large piece of pot roast and a big scoop of steamed rice. With the entrée they served us our choice of red or white wine (including seconds if we wanted). Finally we had a fruit cup for dessert. We sat with a couple from England (Bev and Ron) and traded stories about different cruise experiences.
After lunch was done about 3:00, we boarded the bus again and returned to the hotel. Our second tour today was to start at 4:00, so
Sampling some of the wine
we got an hour siesta on the return drive. We exited the bus and queued up for the next tour, returning to our previous seats. This was a tour of the city with a lot of information along the way: Chile gained its independence in 1818 but Santiago was founded way back in 1541. These days Spain is slowly reconquering Chile through financial investments – Spain is the largest source of new money coming into the country. Chile’s largest export product is not their wine but instead is copper, but the wide swing in commodity prices has a big impact on their year-to-year financial condition. Although Chile is not exactly a 1st
world country, it certain is not a 3rd
world country either. Chile is about 80%!m(MISSING)ountains – primarily the Andes range, with 80%!o(MISSING)f the population living either along the coast or in the central valley area. The total population of Chile is only 17 million and 1/3 of them live in the Santiago region. The two largest recorded earthquakes in history both occurred in Chile, but happily nothing like that occurred today. Chile has a very long border with Argentina, which is not their best friend since
Outside the Restaurant
they sided with the Brits during the Falkland’s War.
Our first stop was at Constitution Square where a lot of the history and political intrigues were explained. Janet decided to stay on the bus with a few other people while David walked around the square. Then we went to the second stop a short distance from the Santiago Cathedral. It had survived largely intact in the earthquakes. We were cautioned that this is an area with unsavory people and to keep a strong grip on our belongings. Again Janet stayed on the bus and guarded our stuff, while David made a short tour of the church. Finally we drove to the top of San Cristobal hill, which we had not been able to visit yesterday. One of the most prominently views from the top of the hill is called Sanhattan (Santiago Manhattan) with lots of tall buildings. There was a lot of haze in the air so views of the Andes in the background were obscured. We both got off the bus and enjoyed the view anyway. Then it was time to head back to our hotel about 7:30.
We busied ourselves around the
room while we waited for Ron to call. Now we are packing everything back into the suitcases and preparing to depart in the morning. They have decorated the pool area for Valentine’s Day and seem to be having a nice time. Be we are kind of tired and will probably sleep better tonight, mostly because we are glad that Stephanie is doing better.
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