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Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:47

Chile A Land of Plenty

Written by  Arielle Feger

Due to its long and narrow shape, Chile is a land of extremes. Stretching from the Andes Mountains to the very southern tip of the continent, each region of Chile is unique and full of natural beauty. In the far north is the Atacama Desert, the most arid in the world. In the south, the climate is cold and wet, giving way to lakes and rivers. In the middle, the climate can fall anywhere between the two. So for travelers looking to get the most out of their vacation, Chile is the place to go. From vineyards, to hip cities, from adventure travel to UNESCO Heritage sites, Chile has it all.

Valparaiso: Jewel of the Pacific

No visit to Chile would be complete without a trip to Valparaiso, the third largest city and a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2003. A sure sight to see in Valparaiso is the beautiful financial district, home to the oldest stock exchange in the world. Other landmarks include Iglesia de la Matriz, a national monument, Plaza Anibal Pinto which features the Fountain of Neptune erected in 1892, and Plaza Sotomayor, the home of the Chilean Navy. 

To get around, take a funicular. Also called elevators, a funicular is a cable car used to climb the steep hillsides. Though some funiculars have been closed down for repairs, the Polanco Elevator has recently reopened for service after renovations to its structure. While in Valparaiso, travelers must try Chorrillana, a dish similar to the French-Canadian poutine. Chorrillana traditionally consists of fries topped with fried onion, scrambled egg, and minced meat. Sometimes, it’s possible to get Chorrillana with sausage or fried eggs, and spices like garlic or oregano. Pair it with an artisan beer from one of Valparaiso’s many craft breweries. 

 

Santiago: The Capital City

Another city that visitors should be sure to visit is Santiago, the largest city of Chile. Sadly, due to the region’s earthquake activity, only a few historical buildings have survived from the time of Spanish colonization, but some of the remaining sites include Casa Colorada (built in 1769), the San Francisco Church (built in 1586), and Posada del Corregidor (built in 1750). Visit the Chilean National History Museum housed in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago, or the Beaux-Arts styled Museum of Fine Arts situated in the Parque Forestal section of the city. Stroll through the Mercado Central to see the many types of fish and other seafood caught by locals. All over the city, vendors sell street food like sopaipilla, a fried pastry made from leavened wheat dough. Sopaipilla can be served with a variety of sides including mustard, ketchup, hot butter, guacamole, cheese or pebre, a sauce of onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs. Take a moment to visit Palacio de La Moneda, the Neoclassical government palace that houses the President of Chile and other government officials.

 

Wining and Dining

One of the most popular tours in Chile is the wine route. Within the Central Valley are vineyards that produce some of the best wine in the world. In the Colchagua region, just 2 and a half hours south of Santiago, visit wineries such as Vina Casa Silva, Estampa, Jacques & Francois Lurton, Laura Hartwig, Montes, Mont Gras, Viu Manent or Vina Bisquertt. Vineyards here are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, and Malbec. In the Casa Blanca Valley, known for its Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, visit Matetic Vineyards  and take a tour of their wine cellar and vineyards, accompanied by a tasting at the end. 

 

Something For Everyone

If city life isn’t your cup of tea, Chile has plenty of other places of interest for travelers. For those looking to relax and rejuvenate, visit the many spas that surround the hot springs of Termas de Puyuhuapi, Termas de Puritama, Termas de Jahuel, and others. And if you’re looking for adventure - Chile has got that, too. Hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding, surfing and scuba diving are all available to travelers. For a little cultural mysticism, visit Easter Island, home to the famous monolithic statues called Moai. 

 

Where to Stay

For a tranquil vacation, stay at Hacienda Tres Lagos (www.haciendatre
slagos.com),
situated between Lake General Carrera, Bertrand and Lake Negro in a property surrounded by wild and dramatic landscape. In Santiago, stay at the always-classic Ritz-Carlton Santiago (www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Santiago) featuring 205 luxurious guest rooms and a beautiful Spa/Health and Fitness Center.

For more information, visit www.chile.travel

 
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