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Santiago - Concha y Toro Vinyard - Easter Island

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I feel unwell this morning, without doubt dehydration, and after a couple of bottles of water I begin to feel back to normal. We have some free time before pick-up today and visit the local San Francisco Church. Service is about to start, so we make a hasty retreat and return through the back streets. I like Santiago; it has a nice, friendly, safe feel to it. We will have to come back and spend a little more time here at some stage in the future.

Marcos drives through many satellite cities on his way out of town. A subway is in its last stages of completion, although most of it is actually elevated above the ground. Why can’t Bristol do something sensible like that?

Concha Y Toro Winery is set in beautiful grounds. Originally started by Don Melchor, his mansion is still there. It is a beautiful building, but unfortunately it is not open to the public.



The weather is being kind to us today, which is just as well, as most of the tour and wine tasting takes place outdoors. We meet Dennis, our guide for the visit, on a bench under some trees in the grounds. There is a barrel with an umbrella over it, and here the wine bottles are placed. We are treated to a tasting of the Trio series today and the first wine is a fruity white.


Wine glass in hand we are taken on a guided walk through the grounds, past the manor house and around the lake to meet up with another umbrella-covered barrel with more wine. The gardens really are lovely and peaceful with fine-looking trees, pretty roses, water lilies on the pond and many delightful birds including egrets, ducks and geese with cute little babies. In the deep blue sky above, an eagle circles gracefully.


With a smooth and light red Merlot wine in my glass, the sun beaming down from above and good company around, what more could I want? We move on to the vineyards. In England Chilean wine is known to be the purest and cleanest and the one least likely to produce a hangover. One of the main reasons for this is that there are no diseases here, hence they need no chemicals. The insects which plague European, Californian and Australian vineyards have not reached Chile. The Maipo Valley is protected to the east by the Andes and the west by the Pacific, so hopefully they will manage to keep the infection at bay. Row upon row of vines reach far into the distance; this is the Don Melchor variety – top quality wine. At the end of each row, a rose bush acts as an early warning sign: roses show an indication of disease much sooner than vines.


The cellars are dark and dingy; they are real working storage crypts of hundreds of barrels of wine. The area is huge, damp and cold. We are told how only new barrels are used for the Don Melchor range and that French oak is better than American oak. In one corner is the notorious Castillera Del Diablo – the Devil’s Cellar. Legend has it that Don Melchor was tired of his bottles going missing during the night and in order to keep thieves out, he invented a tale about the devil himself taking refuge in the vault. It worked and the myth stuck. Now a wine has been named after the story, and very nice it is too. We don’t buy any wine as it is too difficult for us to transport and we give the free glasses to Ervand and Marcos.



At a rustic restaurant in the village of Pirque, we try a local dish – Lomo a la Pobre. This is a tender steak with a couple of fried eggs, onions and fries. It is served with a spicy little condiment called Pebre, rather like the Mexican salsa. To accompany the food, we order a bottle of Castillera Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich but mellow. We’re quickly becoming experts at this wine-tasting lark. Much as the food is delicious I am getting a little bored with chips. All through North and South America we have been served with fries at almost every meal. I would love some rice, mash or new potatoes.


Marcos takes a different route back to Santiago and the airport, through lots of interesting little villages. In the distance are the ever-present Andes with their beautiful snow-capped peaks.

The domestic terminal at Santiago airport is interesting. It is a modern airport, but they sell no post cards or thimbles. My mum will have to go without. We are departing from gate 20. Gate 20A also goes to Easter Island, but those are the people who are continuing on to Tahiti and thence are international passengers. A glass wall separates the two lounges. They have a café and we don’t, and a number of people try the locked door in vain to reach some food. The officials try to board us by Zones in the American style, but it proves too confusing. We all board anyway in one delightful chaotic mass. What pandemonium on the plane, with passengers sitting down and getting up, putting luggage into and taking it out of the lockers and sitting down in the wrong seat. Many seats are double booked and several people are up-graded. Unfortunately we are not amongst them. The whole scene is rather amusing. The flight is full and the guy next to David has a bad cold. Just as David has managed to get rid of his. I sleep through the third viewing of the film ‘Death of Smoochy’.

After a long and uncomfortable flight, my first impressions of Easter Island are rather disappointing. The airport is basic and not very welcoming. There is great competition between reps from the various hostels who are the only non-passengers allowed into the arrivals hall. From their little booths along the wall, they all vie for our attention, each trying to shout louder than the others. As we already have reservations for a hotel, we try to ignore them and concentrate on ensuring our suitcases make it off the plane. With only a couple of flights a week to Easter Island, it could be a long time before we see our underwear again! Complete with luggage, we meet up with Connie, our driver outside for the journey to the hotel. It is only 10pm, but the Hotel O’tai is in complete darkness – I can’t believe we are spending five nights in a hotel without a bar! As I hear the plane taking off again from the runway (built for emergency landing of the space shuttle by the Americans) I realise that I have to like it or lump it here. We can’t find a laundry list, so they obviously don’t provide that service in this hotel. David therefore rinses out a few clothes before settling in to bed. As there is no aircon, we ask the receptionist who is also the bar man (with no bar) and the porter, if we can have a fan in the room, but apparently there aren’t any. The web site advertised mini bar and TV, but they are conspicuous by their absence. Not that I wanted a TV, but a mini bar would be good even if it is only for the fridge to put the Coke in.

Welcome to Easter Island!

Posted by Grete Howard 06:19 Archived in Chile

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