We took a lazy week in Santiago. Treated ourselves to a 1-bedroom apartment in the city and spent a lot of time relaxig there. We were fortunate to be able to connect with some Chileans we had met a few months previously on the Carretera Austral. Reminiscing over traditional Chilean fare was a real treat and a great way to experience ´normal´life. It´s been some time since we´ve had the pleasure to meet with friends for dinner. In our typical style we managed to avoid most museums, opting instead for the joys of strolling the fruit and veg market, particularly enjoyable considering how hard it is to come across anything remotely fresh in Patagonia.

Our day trip out of the city to do a bit of wine tasting was quite a treat. Amazing that we could take the metra out to some of Chile´s famous vineyards. And of course the wine was delicious! Especially the Carmenere variety which was thought to be a lost variety after a virus wiped out all of the vines in France. But in the last decade the grape was rediscovered in Chile. It was thought to have been a Merlot grape for over a century.

From Santiago we had a whirlwind tour of Valparaiso. This port city set amongst some 43 hills was very important during the California gold rush days as a stop for the ships rounding Cape Horn. Two full days had us dizzy trying to enjoy everything the artsy town had to offer. Two months or two years may have been a more appropriate time period.

The real highlight of the cities, Santiago and Valparaiso, was the street art. Wherever there was available space some creative artists displayed thier spray paint skills. These colorful images help to liven up even the most drab and run down of neighborhoods.

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