Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bello Vino and the Curico Wine Valley

Yeah! We've left the city and headed down the highway south on Ruta 5. Santiago is very large and the southern part is heavily industrialized. But then it opens out into the country and miles of orchards and vineyards. We are staying near the town of Santa Cruz which is 3 hrs south of Santiago.
We are staying at a bed & breakfast called Bello Vino. Charming little place surrounded by vineyards and mountains.
                                          The entrance looks simple - not too exciting
                                                        A nice lanai opening onto the patio
                                                The view off  the patio of the vineyards
                                                             The boys' room
                         the Mommy & Daddy's room with a cute little woodstove for a chilly night
A nice sunny view of the vineyards from our bedroom
                                               Then a delicious dinner at the restaurant

 These food pictures are for you, Emily! Our appetizer was fried mozzarella on the left and on the right is smoked salmon, steak tartar, and octopus. Water always comes in a bottle though the tap water is good and very safe to drink. Water is either sin gas or con gas. That is sin(without) gas or carbonation or con (with).
                    Samuel had handmade pasta with meatballs in a peppery tomato sauce
 My filet mignon on a bed of gnocchi in rosemary cream sauce- I know you're drooling now!
                                                   Jim's braised short ribs and gnocchi
 Andrew's sirloin steak with papas fritas - (fried potatoes)
 Café con leche (with milk). Many people think the cuisine would be similar to Mexican but it is not. I guess it is more European as the culture has heavy influence from Spain, Italy, and Germany. There are some traditional Chilean foods. Each South American country has its own empanada- Chilean is called pino empanada and it has meat, onions, some boiled egg slices, and an olive (with the pit!). They have other varieties also. My favorite is jamon queso (ham & cheese) with a crust similar to phyllo dough. Meat esp. seafood is very abundant and very fresh.
 A beautiful old building with stone tile floors- wood beam ceilings- stucco walls
 The bill comes in a little box - our meal with drinks, wine, coffee, and desert was $160. Not too bad  for the top quality of the food and for 5 people.
 Some views of the restaurant with an outdoor area and a part that used to be a horse stable.


What a lovely area and though I have never been to California, I think it is very much like the wine regions there in the topography and climate which is good for growing grapes. We won't have time for a wine tour on this trip but tomorrow we are headed down to Chillan which is another 4 hours south to the hot springs and ski resort.
We are so thankful for all the friends who have been following our travels and thank you for all the kind comments and prayers. Please post any questions you may have. I would love to answer them!
God Bless

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cerro Santa Lucia in Santiago

Yes, another mountain! I never knew there were so many. It is just rolling hills and mountains everywhere. Today on Sunday we went hunting for the Latin Mass but our information was old and they did not have it every Sunday at the church we went to. But there are so many churches in Santiago, we just walked a few blocks and found another Mass just about to begin. Then we went to a nearby park which has some historical significance and some fabulous views.
                      Here is a view from Los Dominicos with the freshly snowed upon mountains.
And here are some pictures of the park.




 The boys sitting on a cannon that is part of a fort that was built in the 1800's during the War for Independence from Spain. They are wearing their new hats we bought at an artisan's market. 3 hats and 2 pairs of gloves for $22.
 And the views of the city from the very top of the hill. It was a long climb! Notice the mountains are covered in clouds. I guess it's still snowing up there!



Saturday, July 20, 2013

The weather, climate, and a trip to Freedom Orchard

The weather the first week was delightful! Sunny and warm in the 50-60 F range which is not very typical for July which is like our January. Today we had rain and a light sprinkle of snow. It rarely snows here in Santiago but up in the mountains they are probably getting a lot. The climate of Chile is like the flip of the west coast of the US. Northern Chile is the Atacama desert which is like southern California and northern Mexico. Santiago is similar to LA. As you go farther south in Chile it becomes like Washington state very wet, cool & mild and heavily forested.

                                                          The view from the bathroom
                                        A sunset view from the bedroom window taken by Samuel
Today was our first foray outside the city. We followed a friend to his development in Curacavi which is an hour west of Santiago. It is a 3000 acre parcel in a beautiful valley with citrus trees, avocados, walnuts, and almonds. It is called Freedom Orchard and the owner is trying to cater to Americans. It is in the very early stages of development. Here are a few pictures.




We've got almost all our business done in Santiago and are itching to get out of the city and do some exploring. Tuesday morning is our target date to head south on a 4 day journey to Puerto Octay. It's a twelve hour drive but we plan to take our time and get a feel for the country.
We will be traveling through wine country and the fertile central valley of Chile where most of the produce is grown down to the lakes region where Puerto Octay is and our friend's summer home where we will be staying until next February.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lider

Anyone recognize this sign?

Yep, you guessed it . Lider is the Chilean Wal-Mart. Lots of Great Value products though priced slightly higher than at home. You park underground and take the escalator up.

When you reach the top there is a courtyard with a café and some small shops.
Smaller than your average super center they still have a small variety of clothes and household goods.
A deli, a bakery with great breads in wooden bins and a nice produce selection. The clerks weigh and price everything for you before you get to the cashier.

The selection was good but organic products and imported American products are very expensive. $7 for a small bottle of Heinz organic ketchup. Overall prices are comparable to SC.
One weird thing is that so many products we buy in jars are in bags here- mayo, ketchup, tomato sauce, & jam. But the worst is milk in boxes unrefrigerated. yuck! and they don't refrigerate eggs either which doesn't seem to be a problem.

It will take a little adjustments to our normal routine but I think we can get used to it as most of our  meals are made from scratch with the basic staples though I was really puzzled by the flour selections as I couldn't read the labels very well!
Please post a comment if you have any questions! God Bless

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Monastery, Houses, & Cars

    Sunday was the Mass at the Benedictine  Monastery on a lovely hillside with beautiful views.




 Here is a typical residential street. The houses are all behind bars because theft crimes are high. South Americans generally have sticky fingers, pick pocketing and car thefts are common. You just have to learn to protect yourself. People here are not honest like small town Americans. But that being said we all know that violent crime is on the rise in America and its not as common down here.
I generally do not care for cities but I have felt fairly comfortable here - not unsafe - I have my money belt and nothing important in my purse if I carry one. The neighborhoods we have been in are the upscale neighborhoods probably safer but we have traveled on the metro to the downtown areas. The metro was safe and clean.
                     Houses are concrete or stucco - tile roofs are common. This is actually a duplex.

 We bought a car today. We were  prepared for high prices. Used cars maintain their value much better than in America which is great for sellers but not for buyers! This Toyota Prado, similar to a Land Cruiser in the States, had 100,000 miles and we bought it for $16,000. It was fairly easy thanks to Richard who knows the ins and outs of car buying here in Chile. Tags travel with the vehicle, you have to buy the government insurance for $400, plus we bought an extra policy for better coverage for $1000 for the year. Cheaper than the States, I think. We have to have it inspected once a year for a minimal fee and we have to get this gadget that records the tolls and sends us a bill once a month. Our car won't be ready until Friday because Tuesday is some catholic holiday and they have to put on new tires and do a brake job and that may take a couple of days on Chilean time!

We also tried to get a bank account but this particular bank told us we had to have either permanent residency or a Chilean paycheck ;(  but we are going to try another bank. Tomorrow we are going to the very nice club R & C belong to.