Thursday, August 5, 2010

Santiago to Santa Cruz, Chile (lots of pictures!)

Yesterday we ended up just hanging around the hotel and not doing much. We knew the next five days would be very busy, so we decided to take it easy. Here are a couple of pictures of Carter and Doug hanging around in our room at the W.



We had such a gorgeous view of the city from our balcony!

This morning we checked out of the W to start our tour of some of the wine regions of Chile. This is something Doug and I have done several times, one time even renting a car and driving ourselves around. This time, we decided to take the easy way out and organized a tour with Liz Caskey, someone we met last time we were here. She put together a fantastic five-day tour for us, with lots of great things especially for Carter to do. We have a minivan with a driver and a guide, a women named Annette.

Here is Carter in the car seat in the car seat in the van. Kids have to be rear-facing until the age of 4 in Chile! He was fine, too. Reclining back so far was actually very conducive to nap-taking.


Our first stop was a winery called Antiyal, just south of Santiago. We toured the vineyards, set in the middle of a beautiful valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Carter had a blast running around the vineyard.




The scenery was stunning!


The winery is completely organic, so there's no pesticides or machinery used at all. There were some llamas grazing, but we didn't get too close -- apparently they're a bit aggressive.


We saw the inside of the facility, where Carter immediately tried to work the equipment.


Here is a video of Carter splashing in a puddle up on the roof, where some of the work of winemaking is done -- with a fantastic view.

Doug and I tasted wine while Carter and Michelle played with the winery's dogs.


Our next stop was Fundacion Origen, an organic farm and agricultural high school outside of Santiago. They provide an education in organic farming to at-risk Chilean teenagers, and give them a fantastic opportunity for a bright future. See the website for more information. Carter loved this as well. We toured the school and the farm. Carter charmed all of the students he met, and generally loved the place.






We had lunch there, cooked mostly from ingredients grown on the farm.


The dessert sitting in front of me was amazing -- it was layers of crepes, caramel, and walnuts. YUM!!


Carter actually preferred the raspberry garnish.


He really liked playing with our driver! The driver was amazed by Carter's DVD player, actually. I'm guessing Chilean parents don't typically entertain their kids in the car that way. But Chileans LOVE kids, and everyone we've met has gone out of their way to coo over Carter and do special things for him. It's been really sweet.


This 200-year-old tree was a hit!



After lunch, we headed south to Santa Cruz, a two-hour drive down the Pan-American Highway. Carter took a much-needed nap along the way, and we all enjoyed the scenic drive. We arrived at our hotel, the Hotel Terravina, which is situated in the middle of a vineyard. Our room is a suite, and it's really lovely. Here are some pictures around the hotel:


Gorgeous view from our room.





Here is a cute video of Michelle and Carter playing with the hotel's dog, Rojo:

We had an amazing dinner at a local restaurant, and are now settling in for the night. When Doug and I were first in this area about 10 years ago, it was really pretty rustic. The wineries weren't really set up for tourism then, and it was definitely hard to find good restaurants. It's stunning how much it's changed!

Carter enjoyed a special pasta dish for dinner, a sort of pasta alfredo with ham, I requested a pasta with cheese sauce, but the waitress didn't seem to think that was a good meal, and suggested that alternative. I really didn't realize mac & cheese was so American, but I guess it is! We've been trying to get Carter to say some basic things in Spanish, and so far he asked for "cho-co-la-te" ice cream (you pronounce all the syllables in Spanish) and will say "Gracias... De nada!" to people. He just puts the two phrases together, and it's really funny.

Tomorrow Doug and I will spend the day visiting wineries while Michelle and Carter hang out around the hotel and play in the vineyard. There's wifi at this hotel, much to my surprise. You couldn't get a decent cup of coffee in Chile a few years ago, and wifi outside of the city would have been unimaginable. How things change! (There are Starbucks all over Santiago now, by the way.)

We have an early morning, so I'll wrap this up for now. :-)

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