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Goodbye South America

Santiago, Chile

Monday 31st Jan- Wed 2nd Feb.
So we have finally come to it- the end of our South American journey. Arriving in Santiago we again stayed with Karim and Gigi for our last couple of nights, did last minute shopping in the city. The real fun started when we had to pack our bags and after a lot of grunting and shoving, we did a lot better than we expected. We still had kilos to spare. We decided to end our big holiday in style with a tour of the local and internationally renown vineyard: Concha y Toro. Gigi brilliantly helped us with booking the tour and getting all the information for the metro and taxis, as the vineyard was situated a bit out of town.

The day was hot with not a cloud in the sky, perfect conditions to indulge in fine wine. The vineyard was so very grand. Our tour guide, Philippe explained that the big colonial building on the vineyard grounds was the ‘summer house’ of the founders. If this was their ‘summer house’ I would have liked to have seen the size of their other seasonal digs. The ‘summer house’, overlooked a beautiful park that occupied sheep, horses with its deliciously green grass, and the adjacent fields played host to giant trees that lined dusty well warn paths. Philippe informed us that we weren’t allow to enter any building as they were now used as offices so we couldn’t go inside for disturbing the workers.

Purple grapes were abundant swinging on grapevines situated next to the house. Philippe told us the difference between growing green and purple grapes. He said the green grapes were grown down by the coastline more, as they loved the water and the winds and that the purple grapes needed really dry and still conditions, so inland protected by the Andes were their spot. Which explains why New Zealand makes a better white then a red; its simply not dry enough. The vineyard used a drip- feed- process to water the grapes. This technique made the vine think that from the lack of water in the soil it was on the verge of dying (a bit grim I know), so the vine put all its energy and nutrients into its fruit. From this process which really is the agricultural cousin to Chinese water-torture, you’re left with a rather small bunch of grapes due to the lack of water in the fruit, but one hell of an intense flavour. Their motto was quality over quantity when it came to their grapes, a sentiment that was to be trusted after we tasted their wine. After Philippe’s rehearsed speeches we were allowed our first glass, a wonderful blended chardonnay and Philippe showed us how to smell and taste the wine. He also topped our glasses up when we were finished. Good Philippe.

We were then shown the big cool rooms where the barrels of wine were kept, and the original cellar, which was over one hundred years old. This thing had been through major earthquakes and was still standing! We were told the story of their signature and original wine, Ciaballer de Diablo, or The Cellar of the Devil. On creating his signature drop, legend has it, he stored it in the cellar for safe keeping. In a short while he then began noticing that barrels were mysteriously disappearing, so to stop the theft he started a rumour that the devil lived in his cellar! Strangely everyone believed the tale and not another barrel was taken! Who needs CTV when you have superstitious Catholics I say. We were afforded another top-notch wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon. A bit too intense for me but Pete was satisfied.

We finished off our day with lunch and more wine in the restaurant and was serenaded by three American singers that we had met on the tour who sang on various cruise ships. They sang ‘Danny Boy’, which was quite surreal considering our surrounding I thought, but they sang beautifully.

It was a very long trip back to Karim’s with our heads full of wine, our condition providing the only cure for to suffer Santiago’s simmering- hot, jam-packed metro cars-sleep

It was a perfect ending to our stay in the great continent. Things had gotten a little unexciting towards the end, but Santiago came through for us. After a sad goodbye to Kairm and his family (who, by the way have one of the cutest babies ever!) we were on our way to a thirteen and a half hour plane ride with english movies (yes!!) and losing a day to time difference. We were ready for english speaking people, cooler weather and my Mum's cooking in my home country of New Zealand. So we'll let you know how that one goes soon! Please excuse the speed of the blogs- internet availability was the reason for a while, now taking a holiday from our holiday is. We are almost at the end though, what a trip it has been!!

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on February 18, 2011 from Santiago, Chile
from the travel blog: Round the world!!!
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