We really didn’t do Santiago justice, because we were too exhausted from our European trip.
We stayed at Marriott Courtyard Las Condes for 25,000 points a night. The place was beautiful, service top notch, and hotel food exceptional. We basically gorged on hotel breakfast, free laundry, movies, 2 for 1 bottles of wine, foosball and rooftop views all week. We even did yoga at the gym, TWICE. Big accomplishment in the Kura-Jimenez family.
Well, we did do sooooome productive travely things. We went to Barrio Bellavista and had dinner there the first night. This is a neighborhood well known for it’s good nightlife. We tried latin sushi (easily recognizable by loads of avocado and rice on every roll) at Patio Bellavista. We also had a typical [ekhm, typical for every country] ‘Chorillana’ (meat and egg over home fries) and ‘Terremoto’ (basically jungle juice, with all kinds of liquor and ice cream). On one of the days we also went to an exceptional wine bar ‘Bocanariz’ in another neighborhood.
We also went to the top of the highest building in South America- Gran Torre de Santiago. Since my work office on 38th floor, I’m pretty used to high buildings, but that was something different. The top floor of the building was in open air, which was terrifying, especially if you know that Chile is on the Ring of Fire (meaning, frequent quakes and shakes). I nearly threw up.
One of my favorite memories was lunch at Crepes and Waffles. Cami was explaining some computer science concepts that I couldn’t get for the life of me. Turns out that Crepes and
Waffles is a Colombian chain with fantastic food. We were sick, so I got a sampler of soups and they were all fantastic. I can’t wait for another visit to the place.
On Wednesday night (9/14) we took 10PM bus to Mendoza. The company was Andesmar and we bought tickets online. The ride was quite comfortable, except border crossing between Chile and Argentina which was a nightmare. They checked every bag and every passport (twice). We had to get in and out of the bus three times. It was cold and windy, because the border is located high up in the mountains (unfortunately, it was like 2am when we crossed, so we didn’t get to enjoy the views either). Next time, I think we will rent a car to do this trip so we can enjoy the mountains and ease the annoyance of border crossing. I think it’s much easier and rewarding to do this trip in a private car.
Anyway, as soon as we arrived in Mendoza we checked in at Huentala Hotel and headed to Cacras del Coria. We rented our bikes from Baccus Bikes and started our famous biking wine tour.
The first winery we visited was Carmelo Patti- a small, hidden, rustic gem. The winery doesn’t even have a sign on the door; they don’t spend a dime on advertising or
marketing, everything is done by the good old word of mouth. Senhor Carmelo himself walked us through his winery- he was so passionate and captivating. All of his wines are Grand Reserve, meaning, they are aged for extensive 10 years before consumption. He taught us a few tricks to identify a good wine- check the cork and make sure that the wine is meant for aging (you don’t want to drink aged wine that is meant to be consumed right away- it’s vinegar!). Senhor Carmelo felt like family, like my grandpa- he was down to earth, warm, honest and modest, despite his well known expertise and fame. He repeatedly said ‘a good one is the one you enjoy drinking’ not the one with the highest price tag.
Then we biked to LaGarde winery. Talk about a totally different experience. This winery was a commercial style, big, beautiful place. Adjacent to the grape wines was a stunning restaurant, fully staffed with cooks, wine connoisseurs and waitresses ready to give you a special, super classy experience for one heavy credit card swipe. It was clearly a business. I liked it, of course, but it lacked the warmth of Carmelo Patti. Our tasting there was abundant though- props to our waitress- we got pretty tipsy after trying only about 6 wines. I’m not sure if it was the alcohol or the fancy pressure, but we ended up buying 3 bottles of wine which we’d have to transport back to the States.
On Friday, we started our day with a fabulous meal at Azafran. The place was exceptional. Right at the end of the meal, I finally heard back from the job I’ve been writing about and I GOT IT! It really felt surreal. I somehow couldn’t believe (I still can’t) that I actually got it. Sometimes, your dreams really do come true, and they always come true at the right moment.
We celebrated my new job with a few winery tours we booked through a travel agency Kahuak. We really wanted to do horseback riding and asado, but there was no time for that. We needed to head back to Santiago in the evening. We visited Domiciano, Vistandes and Francio (sweet wines) wineries. I think my favorite was Francio, because again, it had this nice homey feel to it. We also went to the olive oil factory called Laur Olivicola. At the end of our tour we talked with an older couple on our bus who came from New Zealand. I swear, kiwis are my favorite people. I simply cannot wait to visit there- maybe for my 30th birthday?
Back to Santiago. The whole border crossing fiasco, again.
Our last day in Santiago was ‘Fiestas Patrias’ national day, which meant nobody was working and everything was closed. We went to see one feria, but I like clean air and hate crowds of people crammed into small spaces, so we didn’t stay long. As poor kids who never got to play any games at festivals, Camilo and I both felt it was appropriate to waste some money and have some fun though 🙂
- Exciting, now the UK is considering universal basic income policy. The movement is also gaining traction in the policy circles of Finland, Switzerland and France. Finland is actually leading a pilot project in 2017 where 10,000 people will receive basic guaranteed income.
- Marsala- it’s like the Portugeese Porto, just rosado
- Shiraz – apparently means to sing in Arabic- best drank with spicy foods
- Chard- dry wine but refreshing. Good with fish
- Mendoza’s geography: very little rain, only about 10 days a year. Rocky ground. Sonda (wind).
- Mentira: La ley
- Flaca: Jarabe del palo
- Óyeme mi Lola: Jarabe del palo