My flight home from Miami to San Francisco went smoothly, followed by an easy exit from the plane even though I sat close to the back of the plane. We landed at 10:40 AM, exited the plane and got my baggage by 11:05 AM, and was on a shuttle for home by 11:10 AM. Unzipped my luggage in our family room before 12-noon. All trips should be so easy!
The 17-day journey to South America started in Santiago, Chile, on April 3, and returned home on April 20. We spent two nights in Santiago at the Marriott Santiago, in the business section of town located adjacent to a rather modern shopping mall. We were provided with a city tour at each new destination, so I'll just mention some of the highlights of those tours.
Before getting into the travelogue, I'd like to describe a little about Chile because it's such a uniquely shaped country that's very long and thin, but with varied climates . It's about 109 miles wide and 2,672 miles long. The climate is temperate; desert in the north, Mediterranean in the center, and cool and damp in the south. Its history before the Spanish-American empire had a varied ancient peoples that included the Incas; the Aymara desert farmers of the north, the Diaguitas in the mountainous east, and the Araucarians of the center and south. Even the southern tip of Chile with its extreme weather were inhabited by groups of hunters and fishers.
Santiago is Chile's largest city with a population of 6 million inhabitants, and 75% of the countries population lives in the central valley. The city doesn't offer too much in the way of attractions for tourists, but we did spend some time in the old downtown section, Plaza de Armas, that included short walks. We visited San Cristobal Hill by rail with its 40-foot statue of the Virgin Mary, and a spectacular view of the city. Four of us went to the Ibis restaurant for dinner and enjoyed a crab stew and some wine.
On the following day, we were bussed to the Andes mountain for a tour of Portillo ski resort, stopping at a fruit stand on the way, and lunch at the resort hotel-restaurant. The only thing notable about this tour was the rock cliffs and winding road up to the resort.
On the following day, we traveled southward towards Santa Cruz, and stopped at truck stops for banos and snacks. Our first stop was at Viu Manent winery to visit the vineyards, winery production plant, and lunch at the winery (wines included). I made a purchase of a baseball cap with their logo on it.
We arrived in Santa Cruz in the late afternoon, and after checking in at the Santa Cruz Plaza Hotel, we visited a very fine private history museum adjacent to our hotel. I'll post some pictures that describes much better what we saw.
Everybody in Chile is a millionaire; US $1.00 equals 500 Pesos.
We bussed back to Santiago the following morning for our 1 hour, 55 minute flight to Buenos Aires where we lodged for five nights at the Marriott Plaza Hotel.