I started the year with only one firm travel goal:
Visiting South America for the first time.
Tomorrow, I’m off to meet that goal in the long, skinny country of Chile!
On this week-long trip, I’ll be visiting the Atacama Desert, the coastal city of Valparaíso, and the wine valleys of Casablanca and San Antonio.
And for anyone who’s chuckling/leery/terrified at the thought of me going on another press trip so soon after the Philippines: so far, planning and communication surrounding this trip has been seamlessly organized. An actual travel PR rep will be along for the ride, making sure the trip goes as smoothly as possible, and we’re being joined by the delightful Blane Bachelor, with whom I journeyed around the Samaná Peninsula of the Dominican Republic in 2010.
In the Atacama Desert, we’ll be staying at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa. We’ll explore the Tatio Geysers and the Salar de Tara’s moon-like landscape, do a little stargazing, and learn about ALMA, the world’s largest astronomical observatory, which will open to the public in 2014. While in this High Andean area, I also hope to see vicuñas and discover yet another scientifically-undisputed 6-inch alien.
We’ll spend a half-day in each of two wine valleys, both near the capital city of Santiago: the well-established Casablanca and the emerging San Antonio. I’ve never had wines from either area, so I’m looking forward to some tastings. The cold-weather Casablanca is an ideal area for growing typically-Austrian white varietals, while the ocean-breezy San Antonio focuses on pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah and sauvignon blanc.
We’ll also spend a couple of days in Valparaíso, staying at the art-filled Hotel Palacios Astoreca. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this colorful hillside city is undergoing an urban renaissance, with a new fine arts museum, new cultural center and a graffiti mural project. I’m looking forward to seeing the home of famed poet Pablo Neruda, and to eating a great deal of Latin American seafood.
And when I return, I look forward to sharing tales of Chile here on Travels With Two!