Saturday, 24 July 2010

Exploring the middle of no-where...

After a few days in Santiago, we were ready to escape the city and see what lay outside. I'd read about a gorge - Cajon del Maipo - a couple of hours south of the capital, so using some decidedly iffy instructions for getting there, we hopped onto the metro to the end of the line and looked for a bus going in the right direction. We finally located one that looked promising, jumped on, and started a journey through some amazing landscape, driving parallel to the mountains and through small towns. There were no sign posts or indications of where we were, so we made the decision to just ride it out, and stay on the bus until it terminated, hoping it was near the gorge. We ended up in a tiny town called San Gabriel, very close to the Argentine border, with nothing in it, no shops, very few houses and people, just the bus stop and the occasion horse grazing in nearby fields.

Snow lay all around us as we wandered the lanes, but we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the gorge and the mountains enclosing it - snow covered peaks, ragged and imposing. Although completely in the middle of no-where (we were hoping there was a bus back but had no guarantees…) San Gabriel was peaceful and rural, and didn’t seem to ever get any visitors by the confused looks we received from the friendly locals.

We strolled around for a while until our feet were beginning to freeze, then found completely by chance a tiny café which sold us the most amazing hot chocolate to kick start our blood once more. We gulped it down, and went back outside just in time to catch the bus back (well, with a bit of running after it first!).

Arriving back at the first metro station an hour and a half later, we realised that we were not too far from the biggest winery in Chile, so managed, with a bit of difficulty, to find another bus and rode to the town of Pirque, home to the Vina Concha y Toro. As we headed in, F realised that we had actually had some wine from this winery back at home – the Diablo brand. We paid for entrance, and spent a lovely hour being told how the wine was produced, with a tour around the currently sparse vineyard and sampling a couple of the wines, which were delicious. By this time we were frozen through, so with our free logoed wine glass in hand, we made our way back to Santiago and a huge hot dinner.

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