Jurie, my fellow traveler from Japan, and I went on a day trip leading us to the organic winery Emiliana as well as to the cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. We chose a tour which was a bit more expensive than the other ones offered, promising personalized service and the tasting of more exclusive wines. Around 9am our guide Juan picked us up in our hotel. We were his only customers and so we enjoyed a full day private tour with him.
Our first stop was the winery Emiliana which is a certified organic winery. During a tour through the vineyard we received interesting information on how they actually produce organic wine. One component is they are growing other plants next to the vineyard which attract specific insects eating worms. Therefore, the use of pesticides can be avoided. Since the vineyard is situated in a valley between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of the Andes, they have also chosen to create a special climate by using large wind wheels to mix the air from the mountains with the air from the sea.
After the tour though the vineyard and some gardens, where they grow organic vegetables, we tasted four of their premium wines, two white ones and two red ones. I liked #1 und #3 while everybody else liked #2 and #4. It somehow happens often that I like what nobody else prefers. Wondering what’s wrong with my brain :-) Since I drink alcohol very seldom sipping on four wines was already enough to make me a bit tipsy. It was the same for Jurie. I guess it’s their strategy to make people tipsy to sell them wine afterwards. Jurie bought a bottle of wine for Ross’s birthday and I bought a bottle of “G”, the best wine available at this winery, as a gift for a friend who is very much into wine.
We continued our tour to Viña del Mar where we stopped at the Fonck Museum specialized in archeology and the Easter Island. In front of the museum you can find a Moai statue from the Easter Island. While there are 887 statues on the island there are six outside of it and the one we saw is one of them. The statue is supposed to be one of the smaller statues and I was surprised how slim it actually is.
At lunch time we stopped at a restaurant close to the beach where we had a nice view at the sea. Jurie and I shared a portion of fresh white fish which was excellent. To digest the food we went for a walk on the beach. The waves were very strong and Jurie took her shoes off to put her feet into the Pacific Ocean. She also jumped to get a fancy photo but when landing there was a wave underneath her feet causing her to fall. I didn’t see it since I was looking into another direction but our guide jumped into the water to rescue her since the waves were about to pull her out to the sea. Jurie was completely wet from head to toe and bought a shirt from a street hawker to have something dry to wear. We finished our visit to Viña del Mar by seeing a big rock with a sea lion colony. I wasn’t too excited about it since the colony was quite small and I saw already many of them. But I found it interesting to see that the rock was only 100m away from the beach, very much close to the street and houses.
It was only a short drive over to Valparaíso also lying on the sea right next to Viña del Mar. There we went on a walking tour seeing many of the old houses making the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately most of the houses were in not so good condition or currently under restoration. What’s interesting about the city is the Chilean congress is situated here and not in the capital Santiago. Due to historic reasons there is also a stock exchange in this small city with only 276 inhabitants which is actually the very first one in South America. We walked by the court where there was the most interesting statue of Lady Justice I have seen so far. While she is usually shown blindfolded and balancing the scales this one was very much different. She wasn’t blindfolded, holding the scales loosely in her hand without balancing it and had a very arrogant look. I’m really wondering why she was made this way.
We continued our tour by going up a mountain using a funicular which is a small cable railway going up a steep slope. The ride was maybe only 100m long, but very steep and with 100 Pesos (0.22 USD) quite cheap. Up on the mountain we had a wonderful view over the city and saw many graffiti while walking. It somehow reminded me of the street art documentary “Exit through the Gift Shop” I watched recently giving you some good insights into the street art culture. We also met an architect student making sketches of the old town of Valparaíso and had a chat with him.
We finished our tour in the harbor area where we invited our guide to join us for a coffee. Back in Santiago I was desperate to have some Sushi for dinner. Jurie wasn’t too excited about it since she doesn’t really like to eat Sushi outside of Japan since it’s often not very good. However, our guide recommended us to eat in the best Japanese restaurant in town featuring a real Japanese chef what made her come. Our guide also did us the favor by driving us there. The restaurant is named “Japon” and seems to be associated with the Nippon Hotel. It’s situated at the Baron Pierre de Coubertin Street #39 very close to the Argentinean embassy. Jurie and I had some Gyoza for starter and shared a platter of Sushi for main. We also wanted to try the Udon noodle soup but we were stuffed from the Sushi so we needed to cancel our order. All in all I can say it was certainly the best Japanese food I had in South America and strongly recommend going there when you are in Santiago. Not just the food is nice but also the atmosphere which is very much Japanese including a tatami room.