Archive for Valparaiso

22 Oct 2009

Cama Premium

Comments Off on Cama Premium Chile, Pucon, Uncategorized, Valparaiso

The only way to travel.

There would be an interior photo if some ^%&* hadn’t stolen our camera.

Short of chartering your own airplane, there is no quick way to get from Valparaiso to Pucon. The best way, however, is by bus. Bus travel in Argentina and Chile takes on a whole new meaning especially if you book cama premium. It is the height of luxury and ridiculously good value.

An attendant welcomed us on board and ushered us into a private cabin – cama premium – first class. The seats are broad and comfortable. A box of food is handed to each of us. We watch a movie. After dinner the attendant does his magic and turns our seats into fully flat beds, covers us in blankets, tucks us in, switches off the lights and wishes us dulces sueños.

In the morning he wakes us to bring us our breakfast, unmake our beds and welcome us to Pucon.

If only all travel was this good!

17 Oct 2009

Pisco Sour – Makes You Happy

Comments Off on Pisco Sour – Makes You Happy Casablanca, Chile, Valparaiso

Everybody in Chile drinks Pisco Sour. It rocks! Pisco Sour is the national drink of Chile. Come to think of it, it is the national drink of Peru. The Chilenos claim they invented it, but we all know that can’t be true!

Take a tall shot of Pisco (a strong liquor distilled from grapes)
Squeeze in some lemon juice
Add some powdered sugar
Shake well.
Pour it into a tall glass.
Whisk an egg white and spoon carefully over the top.
A dash of Angostura bitters, and voila – PISCO SOUR.

One Pisco Sour – you are smiling, a broad ear-to-ear smile
Two Pisco Sours – everyone is looking good, really good
Three Pisco Sours – you are dancing … with a streetlight
Four or Five Pisco Sours – you’ll wake up next to someone you’ll swear you’ve never seen before – best stick to three.

Pepo our Chileno man about Valparaiso, not to mention Rock Star and all round good guy rented a shiny red car and drove us out to Casablanca (wine-territory). On the way he scared us (and himself) half to death with his driving; managed to get stopped and fined by the police for going through a stop sign, and finally got us to our lunch destination in one piece – a little shaky but unharmed.

You put the wine in here

Pepo contemplating the long afternoon ahead

We found ourselves at Morande Winery, out on a sunny terrace, with a cluster of empty wine glasses lined up in front of us. At other tables the locals were hopping into Pisco Sours before the wine. We opted to go straight for the wine and the mini-degustation menu – five courses and five excellent wines.

Making a start on the wines

Dish number two – three types of fish in a Pinot-Noir confit
with fried aubergine – superb!

Afterwards Pepo hurtled us down to a small seaside village, with just a few open decked restaurants, a tiny picturesque bay full of grey Pelicans, young boys on body boards, and the local fishermen about to head out to haul in their nightly catch.

The gringo – Paul – saves the day

We have been in Valparaiso for a week, hoping on and off Valparaiso’s many ascensors and exploring the city. Ascensors – funicular cars that make getting around the steep hills a little more bearable – they are old, dating back to the 1880s and creaky and just a little bit freaky.

Ascensors – the easiest way up and down

It is an interesting city – like no other I have been in. It is large, colourful, a bit run-down, and a bit seedy in parts. Walk down the wrong street, at the wrong time of night, and you might just run into trouble. The architecture is amazing – colourful corrugated iron dwellings, perched precariously into the side of the steep hills. From a distance it looks a little like San Francisco; get a bit closer, however, and it perhaps is more like how I imagine San Francisco in the 1940s. Less than 10 kilometres down the road is Vina Del Mar, full of modern day high-rise buildings, garish beach front hotels and casinos – it is neat and efficient and nowhere near as interesting.

It was our last night and Bart held a party (for his French-Chilean girlfriend, Marcela, who is leaving for France) at his very funky upstairs pad with unmatched views across the harbour. It was a small group, about 15 of us, with a private chef preparing an assortment of courses, including a Parrilla (grill) out on the deck. The Pisco Sours were flowing until well into the wee hours. Pepo pulled out his guitar. There was singing and dancing … thump, thump, thump … it is now Saturday morning and I am staring bleary eyed at a pile of unpacked clothes and contemplating the long bus ride to Pucon.

Here’s a small gallery of pics from our week in Valparaiso – go on click here – you know you want to!