Valparaiso: Shake, Rattle and Rebuild

Valparaiso’s hillsides were candy for our eyes. Nothing beat meandering among houses and churches, up and down steep walking paths, overlooking small squares or taking in sweeping views of still more perched houses on the next hill. The history or condition of any given structure did not matter.

We spent much of our time taking such walks. In addition, before we left town early the second day, I ventured out solo to see more in early-morning light.

On a couple of occasions, locals cautioned me to mind my camera, and this was while I was with the group.

An exterior view of Palacio Astoreca, a recently opened hotel, created by converting a large Victorian home, located on Alegre hill in Valparaiso’s UNESCO-protected area.

An exterior view of Palacio Astoreca, a recently opened hotel, created by converting a large Victorian home, located on Alegre hill in Valparaiso’s UNESCO-protected area.

The press itinerary included late-day cocktails on the UNESCO-protected hill called Alegre, at the Palacio Astoreca, a hotel created from a rather grand Victorian home, painted in rich red with white trim. This event included a collection of very innovative hors d’oeuvres, including llama.

The Palacio Astoreca abuts a small square that overlooks the port, great for seeing New Years fireworks, we were told. The property’s bedrooms had great port views, too.

The shop at the Metatic Vineyards in one of Chile’s wine regions.

The shop at the Metatic Vineyards in one of Chile’s wine regions.

Finally, before leaving the area, we headed to nearby wine country, to Rosario Valley and the Metatic Vineyards, specializing in organic wines, founded in 1999. We took the de rigueur winery tour and sampled wines.

It was impressive to see the speed with which bottles were filled and capped (not corked), all by machine. Our hostess said this process could handle up to 3,500 bottles a day. As to the wines, all seemed a little sharp to me. Perhaps if the reds had sat awhile …

Meanwhile, the terrain fit a stereotypical mold, in the best sense of those words, with sun-dappled vines covering rolling hills, and for a unique local touch, ducks and llamas roaming the vineyards.

This article and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.

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