Before starting my travel blog, I used to send travelogues of my journeys by e-mail to my friends and family. I saved some of those e-mails as a travel journal to look back on, so I thought I would share some of those with you.
The following are excerpts from travels in South America, in 2009:
…We arrived to beautiful weather; sunny and 75 degrees. And, Michael (Michael Arnold, “The German Pirate”; a tour guide who lives in Valparaiso. Find info. about him on www.tripadvisor.com and www.cruisecritic.com ) took us on an awesome tour from Santiago to Valparaiso, stopping at two wineries (very inexpensive and tasty wine!), a fishing village (very colorful and picturesque), a deserted GORGEOUS beach, and an interesting friends house and little museum. More on that later…
First, I must tell you where we stopped for lunch. This place was a HOLE IN THE WALL in some out of the way little place. I have no idea how Michael found it! He is German and his lives here with his Chilean girlfriend, so he has met many interesting people. But, I just don´t know how he found this amazing little place.
The people running this tiny little restaurant didn´t speak a word of English, but they were so warm and wonderful! And, for about $5 a person we feasted on empanadas and a wonderful thick soup made from pumpkin, sweet FRESH corn, beans, basil, and I can´t remember what else… We also had a dish made from sween corn, chicken, and beef that was sort of like a casserole, but the corn made a corn cake crust that was delicious. The bread was aslo outstanding! I wrote down the names of these dishes, however, it´s too dark in this hole-in-the wall internet place I found around the corner from our B&B! I will make sure to include this info. in my photo show…
Anyway, along with lunch, we enjoyed a bottle of sparkling wine that I picked up for about $4.50 at one of the wineries. The food was fabulous, the sparkling wine was tasty, the laughs were abundant, and the charm of the cook was the crown jewel of the experience. What fun!
About Michael´s friend… He is an 84 year old gentleman who lives in this incredible house with a view down to the fishing village. After retiring, his dream was to spend the rest of his life building his dream house, building ship models, creating sculptures, and collecting interesting things from his travels. No words can describe it; you will have to see my photos… But, suffice it to say, it was an amazing place, very interesting, and this Chilean gentleman was a real charmer! Hugs all around when we said, Ciao!
So, for $65 U.S. each, Mom and I had an amazing tour that lasted more than six hours. And, we will never forget it! It concluded with us being dropped off at the Harrington B&B; a perfect place to end a wonderful day. Michael recommended this charming place, run by a Frenchman and his Dutch wife. It is SO cool; a place with very modern touches in an older building. They completely renovated it, turning the bathroom into a slick room with black slate tiles and white bowls on top of the black slate counters for the two sinks. The glass shower has two black slate walls. Very hip. And, the head boards behind the twin beds have huge close-up photos of flowers.
The Harrington B&B is a very comfortable place up on the hill amongst many colorful homes and little shops. Each one is a different color; ours is yellow and the neighbors have all painted their places a different color. Very quaint, very colorful, very cool! It is really the best place to be in Valparaiso, because the city is built on many steep hillsides. So, walking in the area is very interesting with all the narrow streets, steep stairways, and funiculars built along the hillsides to carry you up and down when the stairs are too much! More on that later…
Last night, we took Olivier´s recommendation and walked to a tiny restaurant (six tables) for authentic Chilean food. The chef cooks in a tiny kitchen located write along the sidewalk, so we watched and took photos through the glass after we finished our dinner. The tables are located upstairs in the cutest little room looking over the street. Restaurante Antaño was such a quaint place run by a very charming gentleman. And, the food was delicious. After splitting two appetizers (empanadas and delicous Chilean sweet potatos that were sliced and fried), we each had a crab pie. A wonderful dinner and bottled water was enjoyed for about $16 each.
Our night at the Harrington B&B was very restful and proved to be a great recommendation by Michael. And, our continental breakfast, this morning, of baked breads, fresh squeezed orange juice and hot unsweetened cocoa from Ecuador (delicious with just a little bit of sugar added), was a nice start to our day, today!
Today was another sunny, GORGEOUS day! We joined Michael and three other couples who will be on the ship for a walking tour, from 10-5pm. The tour only cost us each $20! And, Michael did a fabulous job teaching us the history, showing us the sights, getting us on and off the local transportation, and taking us to all the out of the way places for the best views. We took one trolley and two funiculars in between the walking and took turns paying for the group. And, we had a tasty salmon lunch in between at an authentic Chilean restaurant.
Now, about the funiculars. They were VERY steep and scary if you looked down! And, the little wooden cars looked like they were about to fall apart… The photo ops. were terrific, though, so we all just held our breath!
It was a GREAT day with GREAT people! Two of the couples are American and one is Canadian; all very cool. We had so much fun together that we plan on meeting up, again, tonight. Michael is staying with his girlfriend who is a caretaker for a rich Chilean politician who is never at his house. So, he has invited us to come over this evening. He took us to see it at the end of our tour today. AMAZING! It would be the best B&B and has amazing views of the harbor and city below. AND, it´s only a ten minute walk from us. Now, granted, it´s a ten minute walk up stairs almost the whole way, but it is definitely worth going back to! Michael is going to pick up some wine, cheese, bread, and olives, and we will all split the cost. How cool…
What a great experience! Makes me want to go there and check it out for myself.