Santiago brought many blessings and a handful of curses. As is often the case when we arrive in a big city we had a list of shopping (exacerbated this time by proximity to Christmas!) and admin tasks to complete which can interfere with making the most of the museums and sites.
Day one though we hiked up to Cerro San Cristobal to get our bearings and enjoy an incredible panorama across the city. As the sun set, we joined Dinnie and Grandpa in the famous funicular for a slightly faster descent!
The vast Costanera shopping centre brought various pains the next day, the least of which being blasted by blatant consumerism (from which we have mostly been shielded during our trip), and the worst of it being some toerag stealing my backpack (containing credit cards/laptop etc) as I was helping the girls pick meals from a Spanish menu (in a Chinese restaurant!) over lunch. Being ripped off in various taxis became par for the course.
A more serene experience was Sunday Mass in the Cathedral. We were warmly included in the service, and during moments when comprehension of the Spanish liturgy eluded us, we enjoyed soaking up the intricate detail of the decor, and a wonderful life-size crib.
Bravely (on my part!) James and I went for our first ever haircut-a-deux! When ‘The Grinch’ indicated that he would be be chopping my locks I wept a tear for you Hide, and surrendered to ‘that hand’!
A Santiago highlight was a town tour with Seb (a great schoolfriend of Robin’s) and his daughter Sofia, followed by dinner at the eclectic Peluqueria Francesa: a converted hair salon packed with curiosities.
On leaving the city we landed in an oasis of calm in the form of the Santa Rita vineyard.
The house overlooked the most spectacular gardens peppered with walkways, statues, secret roman baths, gargantuan trees, and lush green grass all watered by a network of rivulets (which tickled Father’s farming fancy).
And the flowers speak for themselves – I have never seen such prolific bougainvillea.
We spent many happy hours relaxing on the terrace, enjoying the vineyards best vintages, playing cards, reading books and watching sunsets.
There were so many hidden gems to be found………
……that we we created a bespoke treasure hunt for the girls which consumed a very happy afternoon.
We were generally reluctant to leave the sanctuary of Santa Rita, but ventured out once for an entertaining excursion to the local Empenadaeria. We parked (with the best of them!) on the roundabout (genius!)……..
……before tucking into some tasty local fare:
As a finale we took at horse-and carriage tour of the vineyard.
We learned about old and new techniques for perfecting the vines:
And celebrated Santa Rita’s rediscovery of Carmenere: a grape which originated from the vineyards of Bordeaux, but which had fallen victim to the phylloxera louse in the 1860s. Prior to this, some enterprising Chilean vignerons had taken cuttings of what they thought was Merlot back to Chile, in a move that unconsciously saved the Carmenere grape from extinction, as it was later discovered!
Plenty of old disused machinery abounded to tick the Farmer Goz intrigue box.
And some vast newer machines and barrels to titillate the engineers of the family.
All was nicely rounded off by wine and cheese tasting. The girls tasted with us, and took great delight in identifying aroma of ‘old saddle’ and ‘mouldy dog breath’ (and that wasn’t just the cheese!).
Such happy memories from our time with the Gosling Grandparents – WE MISS YOU!