Tag Archives: tour

Salt Flats of Uyuni


The trip to Uyuni from  La Paz was uncomfortable and bumpy.  I took the overnight bus (the only available) and it was not the nicest bus. I was very relieved to arrive safe and sound at 7am the next morning.

Getting off the bus I was a little lost. It was my original pre booked so I didn’t have to think. Luckily, I met a nice group of Argentinian girls who needed an extra for their tour group, so I signed up. I ended leaving straight away at 10 am that morning to begin my journey, but was lucky enough to find a hotel for a shower first.

DAY ONE:

First stop was the old train cemetery. Bolivia used to have a train system, but in 1950, the trains changed fuel system and they just abounded the old models. Because of the dry heat the train did not disintegrate over time.

After the trains came the best part: The salt flat itself. This is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. Miles and miles of white salt covered by a thin layer of water in all directions. The sky and the water seem to unite, and it feels as though you’ve stepped into some type of heavenly time warp.

Post salar, we were driven a long way to a hostel to stay the night. Dinner there was actually quite lovely, and the beds were warm and comfortable.

DAY TWO:

This day was all about the lagoons and desert. The first stop was the valley of the rocks, which looked like Arizona, but with bigger rock formations.

Second two stops were at these gorgeous lagoons to try and find some flamingos and enjoy the magnificent colors. I was blown away by the pastel shades, the mountains, and the contrasts. Stunning.

We had an excellent lunch with three different kinds of potatoes..

Last stop for Day Two was the National Park where you can visit el Lago Colorado. It costs to go it, but its worth every penny. It was windy and freezing, but the flamingos in the red water, with the green moss,  and grey mountains made for a picture perfect  painting like view.

The place we stayed at that night was a little rough, but we managed.

DAY THREE: Our 5am wake up  the next day was also not very fun, but we survived. We saw the geysers (freezing) and had breakfast.

Our last stop was to Laguna Verde, one of my favorites. There were no animals here because the lagoon has traces or arsine. Besides the poisonous chemicals, the view was incredible.

Truly, this was one of the most amazing trips of my life and I was left speechless on numerous occasions. It was very difficult to pick good photos…there were so many!

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Chilean Wines 101: Concha y Toro


Finally a little sun here in Santiago! Yesterday was raining and gloomy and I needed a little sun this morning to bring back my faith in humanity.

Despite the drizzle, Saturday morning my fellow wine tasting companions (winos) Katie, Tali and Nathan and I set out down the green line at 9am to investigate one of Chile most famous wineries, Concha y Toro. Even though my feet were cold, the drizzle actually made for a pretty tour. Felt a bit like we were in Ireland.

Yeah yeah, okay, the absolute best time to go would be a sunny, warm Fall day when the leaves on the vines are changing colors, but why not go again? There are many wineries in Chile to visit and I think it is an essential part of my education that I investigate them all in the hope that if I hear about wines over and over, maybe some of it will subconsciously enter my brain. Essential. 🙂

Because, the truth is, although I think I’ve made some heavy strides in the food writing world, and collected some dorky, Seattle-focused foodie vocabulary (you got lightly seared, flambé, grass-fed, foie gras, reduction, al fresco, resto, blah blah blah) I’m totally lost in the world of wine. I blame this on my parent’s lack of alcoholism. Curse you! (I kid, I kid…)

The one time I got  little wine knowledge happening in my brain is when I did some fact checking at Seattle mag on wine labels, but that was about it. I also remember being really nervous because I had to call the winery and pronounce French words. It was interesting.

ANYWAY. The tour was lovely albeit cold and the wine was fabulous. I’m not a great listener or very mature, so I didn’t learn very much, but here’s the very barebones information I gathered:

1. The wine is called Castillero de Diablo because originally the owner of the winery found out locals were stealing his precious wine!! Oh no! Preying on their suspicious, ignorant ways, he decided to dress up like the devil to scare them off! Shaking in fear, the local them deemed his house the house of the devil. What a sweet story!

oooohhh!!

2. To be called a reserve wine, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 8 months and can be aged up to two years.

3. Red wines are aged in oak barrels, but most wine whites are not. They are aged in stainless steel barrels. This does not reduce quality, but it simply better for the white wines. Particularly Malbecs.

4. Most Chilean red wines are grown near Santiago, where the weather gets very hot and very cool during the year. This combined with the type of soil (terroir), fresh clean Andes water, and the barrier created by the mountains creates the perfect atmosphere for reds.

4. Chilean white wines are grown near Valparaiso, nearer the ocean. The white wines need less extremes in temperature and the cool ocean air is good for the grapes.

5. When tasting wines, they may ask you to look for “acidity” “dryness” “earthy undertones” or even “fruity hints” in additional to smell and body. You may or may not taste/notice any of these depending on how much wine you’ve had. Wines with a strong acidity go well with pasta. Noted.

6. Do not drink the whole glass of wine before your tour guide describes it and says “salud”. It makes you look dumb. Cough. Again, noted.

7. Wines go through a cycle! This is my very simplified version A) Add yeast to the juice  B)Yeast turns sugar into alcohol C)Some other stuff happens D)They put it in barrels for a long time.

8. Finally, do not go on a wine tour without eating. You’ll feel dizzy and super hungry and probably buy a churro.

After the tour, we pooled together our meager teacher earning and purchased one bottle of Carmenere for the road. And on the way to Tali and Nat’s we stocked up on cheese, bread, and ham (obvio) and went to town! A perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday. Inside, eating wine and cheese.

Until next time…

DRINK, EAT, BE HAPPY!

Cheese Tray

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