For any of you who know me well, you know that I have a serious case of wanderlust. As a birthday present to myself, I cashed out my credit card points for airline miles, and was able to take us on a few adventures over the course of a year. This, and, carefully monitoring Travelzoo.com for discounted travel deals helped me to score these trips (subscribe to Travelzoo.com’s weekly deal newsletter- I highly recommend it!)
I’ve been asked how I choose a location to travel to. Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina, were on my bucket list because I had never been to South America before. This, coupled with the fact that I love to explore different wine regions, propelled me to book the trip. Since it is summer in South America during North America’s winter, I was excited to depart from the snow for a brief stint of sun.
The trip began in Santiago and ended in Mendoza. In addition to touring both cities and the winery tastings, we also found a few other unique spots to visit. Here are some of the highlights from this trip…
Side note: some of the below images were taken from my cell phone because my Nikon was too bulky to deal with!
Day 1 was exploring the pockets of neighborhoods near the hotel.
On Day 2 we decided to put on our running shoes and explore parts of the city further away. I had no idea what we were in for that day! We began the run at our hotel, which was about 1.5 miles to the right of the tallest building that you see in the image below. Our run took us through the city and up a mountain, much higher than what you see in the picture below. We ran to The Immaculate Conception monument- one of the top sites to visit in Santiago. Most people get there by cable car. We decided to run. These next few pictures show you pictures as we charged up the mountain.
At the top! This pup loved the view, also.
Once at the top, we had to climb more steps to view the monument.
This monument was probably 50 feet tall, and you can see it from all points in the city.
On Day 3 of our trip, we embarked on a wine tour, which took us to some lovely local wineries. We tasted Cab Franc, Cab Sav, Sav Blanc, and Malbecs to name a few. (Note: cell phone pictures at the wineries.)
On Day 4 of our trip in Santiago, we rented a car and traveled to the port town of Valparaiso, which is known for the artistic graffiti throughout the city. The graffiti is quite amazing! I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it, or the views of the ocean from the rooftop restaurants and bars that we enjoyed.
Most streets were up hills, which helps to explain the many layers of the city.
The hilltop cemetery was fascinating.
Some of the artistic graffiti.
This slide is a fun idea
Beautiful artisan craftsmanship lining the streets
We happened upon a lovely, historical hotel with a rooftop bar. The bartender introduced us to the traditional drink of the country, a Pisco Sour.
We took an incline to the bottom of the city, which sadly was filled with vacant storefronts and buildings
On one of our last nights in Santiago, we ate at a restaurant that was close to the riots that are presently taking place there. The police were maintaining the protests using tear gas, and we actually smelled it from our restaurant.
On Day 5, we flew to Mendoza, rented a car, and drove to our B&B, which is shown below. The staff of the B&B made dinners nightly upon request, and we sat under the stars and strung lights, conversing and eating delightful Argentinian fare.
A typical breakfast in Argentina, including tomatoes, cheese, eggs, toast, granola, yogurt, and pastries to name a few. The yogurt is not solid- it is served as a thick liquid! I def gained some lbs on this vacation.
The every day street in Mendoza
In Mendoza, some of the wineries looked so discreet from the road, that we thought they were just a residence! You can see the difference in the atmosphere at each winery. The really small ones didn’t have an official tasting room, and had labeling and bottling equipment in their barrel room. The larger wineries had decorative tasting rooms, and provided a more formal experience.
The labeling station
A winery where we had a 7 course pairing lunch. Well, I opted for the 3 course, Barry had the 7 course.
Lunchtime winery views
The rain from the night prior flooded the road! Fortunately, our little rental car was up to the task of crossing.
The last day in Mendoza was probably one of our favorite experiences. We visited a working Gaucho ranch, hiked towards the Andes mountains, and ate a traditional Gaucho meal. When I asked Juan, our guide, about the chef who prepared our food, he told me that they don’t hire a chef, it was the Gaucho’s wife that prepared our meal. Best meal that we ate on the trip, hands down.
The Gaucho establishment
A wild horse had to ensure that our car was permitted to be on the property.
Inside the ranch’s establishment
Pictures from our hike…
We passed through many gates during our hike. It is a Gaucho courtesy to ensure that any gate that you open is immediately closed behind you, so the cattle and horses can’t eat the crops.
Ya know, just your every day decay
My favorite pictures from the entire trip- mostly because they are of wild horses in front of the Andes… and me trying to interact with them.
Sadly, I couldn’t win this stallion over.
Same stallion. He was interested in me, but wouldn’t take the leap to allow me to pet him.
The food that was served at the Gaucho ranch was the *best* meal that we ate during our trip- it was our most authentic experience.
Traditional Gaucho sweet bread
Juan and Barry discussing Mate, which is a traditional tea that Gauchos drink and share in the same cup with their Gaucho buddies
Mugs that Gauchos drink the mate out of. These are made out of ceramic, leather, etc. and the tea is drank through a metal straw
Our lunch food- the most amazing empanadas, grilled vegetables and asado. A traditional Gaucho meal.
The cups napkin rings, and coasters were made of leather
The view as we ate lunch
And then we headed home- which ended up being a full 24 hours of travel back to snowy Pittsburgh.
Thanks for stopping by to take a gaze of our trip to Chile and Argentina!