Saturday, December 22, 2018

Valparaiso and the Casablanca Valley

The drive to the coast wasn't without its views.

Our first stop in Valparaiso was La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda's houses. We'd hit another--in Isla Negra--on the way to Valpo, and a third--La Chascona--the day before after we got into Santiago. We hadn't had enough by the time we were done; we were ready for another Neruda house. I don't have many pictures, because photography's not allowed inside. They all have a maritime theme, and all display his collections of souvenirs from around the world, as well as his books.

Isla Negra

The grave of Pablo Neruda and Mathilde Urrutia

Outside the Isla Negra house
La Sebastiana 

As you may know, the great poet passed away shortly after the 1973 coup, and his widow, an artist in her own right, emerged as an important human rights activist. Her first act of resistance was to hold a public funeral for Pablo, understanding the risks--knowing how much the junta would hate the public mourning of her husband.

We descended from the hills around la Sebastiana and frantically searched for our Airbnb (I'll spare you the details). Once we found it, we set off for the historic quarter of Valpo, a city known for its ever-changing murals.

This street art had mirrors

The next morning, we hit the beach in the next town over, ViƱa del Mar.

And toured an interesting vineyard in the Casablanca Valley, where we learned about the varietals that do well in the various regional microclimates (Casablanca, by the sea, is very different from Maipo by the mountains). We learned that Carmanere was overproduced and lost its reputation as a result, but many wineries are determined to revive it, as it is so Chilean. It's also hard to do well because the various grapes from the same cluster have to be picked at different times. Our tour guide was incredibly passionate about Chilean wine.

This vineyard also produces fruit licquers

After the tour, a tasting
From there, back to Santiago.

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