Hills of bright-colored buildings looked like they were cascading into the ocean in Valpairiso, Chile. Regarded as the San Francisco of the south, Valpairiso has been name a Unesco World Heritage Site. It's home to the first Spanish newspaper in the world which is still in print. It's bright buildings and architecture influenced by the French, Spanish, and English are marked with the artwork of locals or what some would call graffitti, but this graffiti might be some of the most beautiful in the world. Boutique shops are tucked in between colorful paintings, their wares as unique as this town. Along one street we stopped at a hostal where the owner had her art hung and painted on the walls, making one feel as if they'd entered a warm home. On another street, we knocked on a door and a man opened it and we paid twenty cents for homemade cookies. In this area of town you feel as if you've entered an art gallery instead of a neighborhood.
I didn't plan to visit Valpairiso, but as many of my dreams have come in unusual ways, a tourist company in Santiago that specializes in Valpairso and Chilean wine tours along with extreme sports asked me to write an article about them and so I got to meet four fun guys from England who were on the tour and see Valpairiso and Vina Del Mar along the way to seeing wine country.
To say that Casablanca wine region looks like Napa is an understatement.
Rows of vines stretch between green mountains. At Casa de Bosque winery the mind immediately comes to relaxation as the soft breezes cool the heat and rustle the vines at this stunning vineyard. The deep tones of pinot noir enlivened my taste buds as I felt the beauty of living tasting their award winning wines. The difference from Napa, well one everyone said that I had to book a tour and couldn't go on my own - a complete lie and if you plan to visit this region rent your own car and go on your own - but the wines cost about $9.00 a bottle for a really good bottle of wine instead of $80.00.
In going after my dreams I've been able to see and taste Napa, Chilean wine country, Tuscany, and S. Africa's wine country. No one is better than the other just the prices. Each one has barrel rooms filled with the smell of french oak. Steel tanks fill cement rooms, and rows of vines in valleys reach the mountainsides. Wine not only enlivens the spirit with it's warmth and taste, but it makes these regions some of the most beautiful in the world.
This trip in S. America has sincerely made me realize that the world, no matter where you are, has so many similarities. When it comes to travel, people fear the unknown, believe in the horror stories of the news, and for some the fear is so big they don't venture to other countries. So many people spoke of the dangers of S. America for a woman traveling alone as I planned my trip. What I've found is beautiful landscapes, people with warm open hearts excited to share their customs and country, and a lifestyle so much like my own at home.