I am going to go a little off topic today to share some pics and details from our recent trip to South America!
It’s no secret we like to travel, and while we’ve taken the kids on some fun trips in recent years it’d been a while since just the two of us were able to escape together. So, even though the timing of this trip turned out to be less than ideal (something that was hard to predict when I booked it with our airline miles almost a year ago!), we still made it happen – and I’m so glad we did.
First Stop: Valparaíso and Casablanca Valley
Our first time in South America was when we visited Argentina five years ago. We loved the experience so much we decided right then we’d have to come back to the Chilean side of Patagonia one day. We didn’t spend our whole Chile trip in Patagonia though and started things off in Valparaíso – a few hour drive west of Santiago.
Valparaíso is one colorful and hilly city (on the ocean) with LOADS of character. We knew from our time in Argentina that graffiti was rather common in that part of the world, but Valparaíso managed to turn it into an art form. Just check out some of the sights…
We also unexpectedly saw a lot of stray dogs, which looked surprisingly healthy and calm (considering)! I guess it’s pretty common there because the locals certainly didn’t seem phased by it at all. Check out how I got photobombed by one of the many stray dogs in this pic. Looks like he is almost posing with me, doesn’t it? :)
We also didn’t have to be in the country very long to figure out they boast a signature national cocktail …the Pisco Sour! Pisco is a style of brandy with a little bit of a tequila flavor. Here is my husband doing a quality check.
Speaking of beverages, on our way back to the airport (in Santiago) we made a quick stopover in the lovely wine country …Casablanca Valley! We visited an organic and biodynamic vineyard (called Matetic) and loved exploring the grounds.
Next Up: Patagonia
After our first few days of fun it was time to head back east to the airport so we could make the (LONG) way down to the Patagonia region. Our destination was the insanely gorgeous Torres del Paine National Park, and it honestly took us as long to get there (from Santiago) as it did to get from our home in North Carolina to Chile in the first place. I promise though, it was totally worth it!
We headed to Patagonia to go on a guided hike on the famed “W” Trek. It’s called the “W” because it’s a multi-day hike through different valleys that would make a “W” outline if you were to trace them on the map (37 miles in total). And let me tell you …it was absolutely spectacular! One of our favorite travel experiences of all time.
Here are a few snapshots…
Now can you see why we’re calling this one of our most favorite trips to date? It was an experience to remember. And it sure did help that we lucked out with such good weather on our hikes. Patagonia can be a pretty unpredictable place as far as weather goes – often with quickly changing temps and high winds! We were incredibly fortunate considering.
Last Stop: Santiago
Since it took an entire day to make our way back to Santiago from the park we stayed in the city for a couple days before heading home. We were honestly so tired and aren’t big city people so we spent the entire first day reading novels poolside (it’s summer there right now so how can you blame us?!). I basically never just do “nothing” at home so it was quite a treat. And then on our second (and last) day in Santiago we met up with my cousin who happened to be there on a business trip from Singapore. I don’t get to see him very often since he lives so far away …and what a crazy coincidence that our trips would overlap like that (the first time there for all of us!). It didn’t take long for us to introduce him to the Chilean Pisco Sour. :)
Now I only wish our trip could have ended on a positive note, BUT our flight home was delayed several times before it was eventually cancelled at 4:30 in the morning. I am too old to stay up all night in the airport and really hurting this week as a result! I’ll spare you all the unpleasant details, but after a nightmarish experience (with the language barrier making things all that much more difficult) we ended up getting on a flight to Miami through Colombia and making our way home 14 hours later than planned. After the uncertainty of how we’d get out of there I’d never been so happy to be back on US soil in my life! As much as I love traveling there’s nothing like being back home with my babies (and my bed!).
The food was not a focus for me on this trip, although I was of course paying attention! I honestly wasn’t blown away by any one particular meal, but we did come to love the little tomato and cilantro spread (almost like a salsa) that was often served with bread at restaurants. We also noticed (and appreciated) Chile’s love for quinoa, fresh avocado, wheat berries, and salmon – they sure do like their quinoa served many different ways! My husband enjoyed civiche and octopus, and we also had our fair share of empanadas.
As usual I brought along plenty of travel snacks and a big ol’ bag of homemade granola to supplement meals when necessary. And I’m so glad I did because I had not been on a flight that served food in a while and forgot how BAD it can be. Breakfast on our flight down there was basically a sugar bomb (including a “muffin top” with the first ingredient being sugar). So after examining those options I happily asked for a cup of milk that I could pour my granola into. I did my best to eat real food when I could, but it’s certainly not easy when you’re eating out for every meal! Being able to make home cooked meals again is just one more reason I’m glad to be home.
Well, that pretty much sums up the highlights of our adventure. We feel so fortunate to have had the experience and are doing our best to immerse ourselves back into reality this week!