Location: Santiago & Valparaiso
It has been just over a year since our honeymoon. I feel incredibly lucky that we were able to experience a round the world trip through One World, stopping in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America. Our honeymoon lasted three weeks and it was a lot of countries to cover in a short period of time. We had to choose stops on the map that not only worked logistically in terms of flights, but also where we could experience most of what the location had to offer in just a few days. I would say that overall, we did a pretty good job in that everything worked out exactly as we hoped it would. All honesty, Chile was never a place that was high in my ‘must travel to’ destination, and was not a place that I knew much about. We stopped in Santiago for three days as it was the shortest route (and by shortest I mean 16 hours) to get from Australia to South America. Now that I have visited and had a taste of what the country has to offer, I would definitely recommend staying a little longer, and really experiencing the Chilean way of life. Below are some of my highlights.
Welcome to an artist’s paradise. Located just an hour and a half outside of Santiago, this quaint seaside town will make you feel as though you have just fallen into a painter’s palette. The buildings are coloured in hues of blue, pink and orange. Street art covers the walls and the stairs throughout the town, all against the backdrop of dockworkers, fishermen and locals going about their daily life.
The town is built on steep hills, so steep that funicular railways are used, making Valparaiso a great spot for beautiful look outs. The town has a handful of museums that you can visit once you’re there. We were really limited with time so we could only squeeze in La Sebastiana, the one-time residence of Nobel-prize winner and Chile’s favourite poet, Pablo Neruda. La Sebastiana served as the poet’s home at the time he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The entrance to the residence is a tangled secret garden with mosaic walkways and stairways, leading up to the most beautiful view of this unusual town.
Chile ranks as one of the world’s top ten wine exporters, meaning you cannot miss the opportunity to visit one of over 100 wineries whilst you are there. Our hotel, the Renaissance Santiago, recommended that we visit Viña Haras de Pirque, a stunning vineyard about one and a half hours south of Santiago.
Haras de Pirque actually started its life as a breeding farm for thoroughbred horses and continues to export exceptional foals to Northern and Southern America. In 1992, hectares of vineyards were planted creating Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc premium wines. We were lucky enough to taste (and purchase a few bottles) of Albis, a soft and velvety red wine which was the result of a partnership between the Tuscan Antinori family and Haras de Pirque. The golden and black circle on the bottle represents the collaboration of the two entities, with the black symbolising Chilean soil and the gold representing the Tuscan sun.
The winery itself is actually built in the shape of a horseshoe and is one of the most modern vineyards in Chile. At the centre of the horseshoe is a fountain. After the tour, we were taken into the horseshoe for our wine-tasting session. Believe it or not, the fountain actually doubles up as the most beautiful skylight, with the reflection of the water dancing over the barrels. It truly was quite ethereal!
Three days are nowhere near enough time to truly explore Chile, however it is enough to cover downtown Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and a vineyard. I wish I stayed that extra day to trek through the Andes as I’ve seen some truly beautiful photos of the mountains and lakes online. Given the length of the country, you may want to extend your trip even longer to cover other areas such as the Atacama Desert in the north – the driest place on Earth – or Patagonia’s Wetlands in the south. The Easter Islands are also considered part of Chile, and can be reached via a five and a half hour flight from Santiago.
Have you been to Chile? What are your recommendations while there?
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