Monday, January 25, 2010

up up into the mountains and down again

Today we went up into the Andes but only 44 switchbacks worth. We were up at 9000 ft. and Sally went even higher on the chairlift. The air was thin up there and the walk arduous over to the lift so I sat in the cafe and read on my Christmas present from Michael - my new e-reader. What a wonderful device for travelling. I had been in the Andes years ago when Michael and I were in Ecuador and the Chilean Andes aren't a lot different. The higher up you go the less vegetation and more "moon like" the landscape becomes. Some rocks the size of houses seem to be in the middle of nowhere up there, likely spit out by the last volcanic eruption. Chile has a zillion volcanos and three were right in the area, but not active.
The tour was partly the Andes tour and partly a wine tour which was actually not even tricky with a relatively new tea - totaller like me. The casks were very old and the winery (Santa Carolina) reeked atmosphere. There were only about 6 of us on the tour today and the interaction was good.
Tomorrow we have a car and driver taking us to Vina del Mar on the coast. We're there for four days and then onto Valparaiso to get on the ship for the cruise. Vina del Mar will likely be a totally relaxing venue. It appears to have a beautiful pool overlooking the beautiful ocean in this beautiful spa town. We are both very excited for this next leg of the trip. We will likely rent a car and drive in one direction or other just to see more towns along the coast. The roads appear to be very good here and the drivers aren't insane like they are in Europe. Can't wait for all of the above. Feel like a kid.
We went to a lovely restaurant again tonight called Tierra Noble and the food and service were great. Just had a steak well prepared with a salad, but simple and well done is what this place was known for.
Lapislazuli is everywhere, but so are Chilean turquoise and amethest, both polished and unpolished. We are just having lots of fun in the markets and not really buying tons of stuff. It's a long trip and we have lots and lots of interesting ports of call.

Will try to write again tomorrow night from Vina del Mar. Remarkably, we go to dinner at 8 pm and are working our way up to later and later because in Buenos Aires apparently it's difficult get a reservation before 10 pm !!!

love to you all

xx oo

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