Topping up the levels in Santiago.

6 Jan

I like to think of myself as a glass half-full kinda girl, but rolling into our hostel in the hip Melbourne-vibed suburb of Barrio Bellavista saw the energy levels gasping for air and MC fighting back the beginnings of the flu – bets are on as to whether it was caught from the seaside swim or the hostel’s dog blankets. Wanting fresh air (and almost getting it through Santiago’s smog), we decided to take the closest tourist attraction – a cable car up Cerro San Cristobal – and spent the afternoon lounging on the stone wall, eating helados and soaking up the view.

Day 2 and MC wrestling with the steam roller that had decided to reverse-park on his head, we headed to one of the 3 homes of Pablo Neruda, the Nobel-Prize winning Chilean poet, La Chascona – built for and named after the unruly red hair of his beloved Matilde, his lover at the time and later his wife, and upon which many of his love sonnets are dedicated. An unconventionally built house, with much nautical influences as he loved boating and the sea, it seemed to capture the essence of the man. Unfortunately it was vandalised after the military coup by Pinochet in 1973 and much of his collections, including many paintings from famous Chilean and international artists (Picasso), were stolen. We loved it though – the intimacy and welcoming ambience of the home still resonates.

It’s now January 5 and we have a date with Aussie friends, Brooke and Denis. An 11th hour change of plans meant we were soon headed towards Valle de Casablanca for a spot of wine tasting. Juan, our private tour driver, took us first to Vina Mar.

Treated like royalty, wine connoisseur Gabrial toured us around the winery explaining their wine-making process before seating us in chairs fit for kings and indulging in a delicious tasting.

Crowd favourite was the Sav Blanc, but there is much to be loved about the opportunity to muse over a cheeky champagne with a girlfriend again.

Next stop was neighbouring Vina Indomita, whose wines were not quite as remarkable but the winery’s Hollywood style sign and views from the hillside accommodated where it was lacking.

Feeling bubbly from the half-glass pourings and still no lunch, we headed to Isla Negra, Pablo’s largest and most famous house where we inhaled the seafood (and more wine) before embarking on an audio tour.

This home is really a museum now and where Pablo and Matilde are now buried, facing to their beloved sea, but it didn’t quite seem to capture the same vicarious ambience of La Chascona.

Enjoying a long sleep in and a lazy morning, we topped up the levels with a couple of café cortados and me drinking in the juicy gossip from the latest trash rags, finally in English (brought to me from afar by the Chook), before boarding our flight to Iquique.

Expecting Santiago to be an uninspiring city, it provided all we needed to see the half-full glass start bubbling over again – good coffee, lots of sleep and champagne with friends can do that to a girl.

x kel

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3 Responses to “Topping up the levels in Santiago.”

  1. father bear January 24, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Were you hypnotised by the wine rack or just looking for the cheapest bottle. That’s my boy!

    Father Bear

    • wordsfromtheview February 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      More like wondering whether they’d notice if a bottle or 2 went missing. Covert bottle lifting a gift picked up at GWR Swindon management buyout celebrations circa 1995 as I recall, left the party with 2 bottles of Gin clinking in my rucksack, and it wasn’t me who was the Gordons fan.

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