From Valparaiso to Santiago to Home

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Published: January 28th 2024

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We had two full days in Valparaiso getting used to the steepness of the constant ascension and descension. Wandering through a market area, we came upon a stairwell leading up to a hillside restaurant. It had 3 levels one could stop at but we continued climbing the dozens of stairs up to the top floor. We grabbed a window table that overlooked the city and gave us a fantastic view. We spent the afternoon up there having lunch and drinking sangrias. Monica said it was the best sangria she had ever tasted and its potency was also top notch. We had plans to return to the El Terrod the next day but they were closed. I am not sure how we made it back down the stairs and back to our hotel – we had some lively philosophical discussions in the hotel bar that night but fortunately none of us remembered very much the next day. With heavy heads, the next morning, we decided to take the subway to the beach area. The beach is okay and this part of the city is very different from where our hotel is situated. The beach area is modern and very tourist oriented – nothing like the bohemian nature of the inner city. Its main attraction for us was the flatness of the terrain. Our knees and calves were reminding us of our age. The next morning we left for Santiago. We had booked a wine tour and so the 75 minute drive to Santiago was included in the price. The first change we noticed was the sudden change in climate. Where Valparaiso was an always a comfortable 20-22C with a fresh coastal breeze, driving inland into the Casa Blanca valley, the temperature rose to 35C with a high level of humidity as well. We toured 3 wineries – the Bodegas RE, the Casa Villa and the Casas del Bosque. Spending approximately an hour at each of the first two, we sampled a number of white wines and a couple of champagnes at the Casa Villa. An interesting historical note is the origin of champagne. A winery in, of course, Champagne France, fermented their white wine before packing it in barrels to be shipped all over Europe. The heat from these travels caused the wine to ferment a second time, resulting in the bubbly nature. At first, it was determined that the wine was ruined but some took a liking to it and claimed it was like drinking wine with the stars. From this time onwards, 1531, its popularity grew. We stayed longer at the final winery and had an excellent lunch of tuna tartare. We arrived in downtown Santiago in the late afternoon and checked in at the Hotel Sommelier Boutique. It was hot and we stayed indoors until after dark. Once the sun went down, Don and I walked across the street to an English pub called the Red Bar. It had four floors and each was connected by a different type of stairwell – the first was a straight walk, the second was a winding, twisting stairwell and the third was a large circular walkway that went around the outside of the entire floor. Getting to the roof top was easy enough but after a couple of beers it was somewhat tricky making it back down. Whenever someone left, the servers just stopped where they were and watched the spectacle. Being an English pub in South America, the bottom floor had half a dozen Paddington Bears sitting at all of the tables. It was then that I remembered that Paddington actually came from Peru – he is an Andean bear also know as a Spectacled bear. (Is that why Paddington’s mother wears glasses???). Don and I safely made it back to our hotel as we prepared for our last full day in Chile. The next day we walked to the base of San Cristobal Hill and took the Pio Nono funicular up the hill. Like a row of cable cars, the funicular takes one 1600 feet up the mountain. From there, one can walk up steps another 900 feet to get to the base of the Immaculate Conception sanctuary. The view of the city was amazing, however, the thickness of the smog took away from the view of the Andes mountains. Santiago is based in a valley and the air movement is minimal. We packed up and prepared to leave the next morning. Chile, like all of southern South America, is two hours ahead of Toronto time and five hours ahead of Vancouver. Our flight was scheduled to leave at ten in the morning – it is about a ten hour flight to Toronto – and then we had under 90 minutes to reconnect with our flight to Vancouver. Our plan was to arrive in Vancouver late at night and stay over in a hotel before heading across to Vancouver Island the next day. However, our plans were scrapped immediately when our flight from Santiago was delayed for two hours due to ice on the tarmac in Toronto. Making our flight connection to Vancouver was now impossible. We decided to book a hotel in Toronto and fly the next morning. There were 23 of us flying from Santiago and taking the Vancouver connection. Air Canada handled it pretty well, putting us on a flight the next morning at 7:30, making sure our luggage was placed on the correct plane, and giving us food vouchers for breakfast and hotel vouchers as well. We had already booked a hotel ourselves in Toronto and so we are hoping the vouchers will be good as a credit in the future. We jumped on the skytrain at the airport in Vancouver and took it to the waterfront. We had half an hour for a good Canadian beer at the Tap and Barrel before jumping on the Hullo ferry back to the island. We arrived home exhausted – happy to be back on Canadian soil. It was a great trip and Chile is certainly on our list to return to.


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