Landing in Santiago, Chile, itinerary in hand, ready for “The Best of Chile and Argentina tour,” the 8-day excursion I had selected with Intrepid Travel. The tour consisted of 2-day stops in Santiago, Mendoza, Bariloche, and Buenos Aires. A perfect introduction to the countries I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time.
Our first night in Santiago, the group met tour leader, Juan Sanchez and fellow travellers: two couples from Australia and six solo women from Australia, Canada, and South Africa. The perfect group size!
Santiago, Chile is a modern city offering many ways to immerse yourself in its rich culture, such as art museums, cafes, bars, and historical districts. The city is surrounded by mountains, creating stunning vistas. On a walking tour of the city, led by Juan, we were taken to the Plaza des Armes.
We stopped at Bella Vista barrio, for our first group dining experience, at “Agua Para Chocolate.” The restaurant is inspired by the book “Like Water for Chocolate.” The food is delicious and the menu features a combination of Mexican and Chilean dishes. Ordering the Filete al Lodo (filet of beef with sweet potatoes) dish and Shrimp appetizer. It was delectable and artistically presented.
Bella Vista, a Mecca for tourists and natives of Santiago, features smart bars, restaurants, and cafés. The later it gets, the busier it gets in dining establishments.
Tip: Expect to spend as much for dining out in Santiago as you do in North America. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me.
Wine Tasting at Concha Y Toro
Our program had winery tours marked for Mendoza. However, with New Year’s Eve celebrations about to be in full swing and it being a national holiday in Argentina, we ventured over to the Concha Y Toro, just outside of Santiago. Located in the Maipo Valley, the winery was established in 1883 by Don Melchor Concha y Toro, a prominent Chilean politician. Today, the business is an international conglomerate, exporting wine around the world.
We toured the Pirque Viejo vineyard and the French-inspired estate grounds of the founding family, followed by wine tastings on the patio. It was very busy at the winery with many tour groups and visitors from around the world.
Locals believe that the devil lives in the depths of the wine cellar and hence the wine is named “Casillero del Diablo”, the Devil’s Cellar.
Our tasting included 6 labels ranging from white Cabernet Sauvignon to bold Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of these labels you may recognize at your local wine store from Trio’s to Cassillero del Diablo.
Finishing off our perfect morning, we stopped for lunch at a Chilean steakhouse and grill, El Manso Toro. I had a perfect empanada and avocado celery salad. The Asado of mixed grill beef, ordered by the table, looked mouthwatering.
Disclosure: My tour was partially assisted by Intrepid Travel. All opinions expressed in this article are my unbiased views.