Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chile - Wine tours Concha y Toro, Couch Surfing, New Debit card, Crossing to Argentina through Mendoza, Champagne tour, Ruta 40 Argentina, finding my twin and looking into the future

So I arrived in the FedEx main office of Santiago Chile early in the morning to supposedly get my new debit card that my bank shipped, so I can actually get money to continue traveling, as my old debit card number was stolen in Peru.

As I investigated some more, turns out that it was already shipped to San Pedro de Atacama, so I had to wait another day for it to come back to Santiago.

This thing of getting my debit card number stolen has become a real pain the @$$.

So I had to hang around Santiago all day. So far I’ve traversed the entire city about 3 times, going from hostel to airport, than to a Kawasaki dealership on the opposite side of town, then back various times. And this is one huge city!

On the way through the city I decided to visit the Cousino Marcul vineyard and winery.

This is a great winery from what I was told in Chile.

Got to see the old way wine was made in huge barrels before stainless steel was introduced.

The storage/fermentation area located down a spooky cellar

now that's a lot of wine!

Even got a free taste test

This one's for you dad!

Note to self, everything in Chile is extremely expensive.

An extra drive chain is $200+ US dollars here, while in the US it’s a mere $50 dollars. A rear tire is near $300 dollars and an oil filter is near to $12 dollars, while back home a filter is barely $4 dollars.

So my suggestion for all those fellow riders is to stay in Chile as little as possible. Argentina is cheaper on everything that’s right next door.

As a hostel was $20 dollars minimum I decided to couch surf for the first time on my trip.

I sent out a few requests and decided to go with a very nice young lady named Natalia.

Needless to say my stay was more than exceptional.

I was welcomed by Natalia with open arms.

Natalia to the right and her neighbor ximena that cooked a great meal! Gracias Chicas!

It was a bit of hassled to park the bike somewhere close and safe as her apartment building was quiet strict and would not let me park in front or inside. So luckily her neighbor down the street she had been staying with a few months back was nice enough to lend me her parking space for the day.

Natalie was extremely nice and more than I could have asked for. Polite, she let me use her washing machine, and even gave me the key to her place to go in and out as I pleased.

my bed, much better than a tent I can assure you

Gracias Natalia!

I relaxed the entire day at her place and went out at night with her neighbor to check out the town.

The following day I picked up my new debit card and I continued the wine tours in honor of my father at Concha y Toro, the number one wine retailer to the United States in wine.

I wanted to have an adventure, so I joined the Portuguese tour group just for fun.

The winery mansion

yes everyone look over there....mmmm... yes...facinating
Cool looking tree

The vast grape growing area.

I was almost ran over when the free wine came up this time from people trying to get it

Here's a nice high tech temperature controlled area for the wine to ferment in.

And a nice lady looking cool with the wine

It was a pretty touristy tour, but nice to see where the Diablo wine stays to ferment and comes from that’s shipped all over there world and that we see at our local grocery store.

The cellar for the Diablo wine

And the devil himself watching the wine.

More free wine!

And the famous bottles you'll see at the local grocery store.

I then headed off to Argentina. As it’s almost $7 dollars a gallon of gas in Chile and I know traveling Argentina will be much cheaper.

I drove to Mendoza for the night from Santiago.

Went through some tunnels

So close to finding my name yet again, yet still so far

Got a nice hour delay because of some crazy accident I couldn't quite see well but it looked disasterous.

The road there was quite nice; I can’t imagine what it looks like in winter, quite astonishing I assume.

For the fellow riders, the Mendoza border crossing is pretty busy. It reminded me of a meat processing plant.

They lined everyone one up, and had you go one by one into the immigration then customs, then immigration again then customs again like an assembly line. About two hours later I was out.

Adios Chile! don't worry I'll be back!

 I slept in Ullantambo, 2 hours from Mendoza.

I quite like the Argentinean lifestyle of camping out, it available to do in many many places,and it’s cheap and affordable anywhere you go, just like in the United States. This country makes me happy, J

Paied $2 US to camp out at the municipal camp site. Just as good as the camp site next door that cost $20US but had WiFi and other useless necessities.

The next day I hit the famous Ruta 40, the same as the United States Route 66.

Not before I hit up the first Walmart I've seen since I left home! Reminded me of the other motorcycle trips when I was 17 where I camped out in Walmart parking lots all over the country.

I was captain cool yet again.

I enjoyed the scenery the entire day on Ruta 40

Multitasking is fun!

Upon gassing up in a city, I got lost and ventured off into the unknown.

I was fortunate enough to pass by many of the famous wine yards of Argentina, including Trapiache.

I said what the heck, visited two wineries in Chile might as well visit one in Argentina, in honor of my Dad who can’t be here to do the tour himself, as I’m sure he would love to be.

So I choose the one with the coolest looking house and sign.

Turns out they also made Champagne there. So I in honor of my cousin Mike, whom loves champagne, I thourough enjoyed the visit.

Learned about the old dead guy who started the place.

Storage area

Saw more fermentation tanks

A private cellar for the family

The champagne storage

The wine storage

And learned the entire process of it all….again….

I think I’m official all wine tour-ed out. I’m throwing in the white flag of defeat on endless wine tours. Things to do in life, check and check.

Found a municiapal camp gournd and called it a day.

End of the day picture.

The next day I kept driving and enjoying more of the tremendous scenery unfolding before my eyes.

You know its going to be a cold day when the metal road signs are frozen!

But it was pretty sweet.

What wasn’t sweet was the slippery road.

The freezing rode
I visited the worst petrified forest I’ve ever seen in my life. It had a a few small petrified pieces of wood and that was about it.

I eventually made a small town I don’t rmember the name of.

I found another Municiapl camp ground and went out into the city to buy dinner. In the process I ran into a couple on a KTM 990 Adventure.

I started off talking Spanish to the guy, then he said he was from the USA. I asked how he spoke Spanish so well, and he answered that he was from Mexican parents but was born in the states.

I got a taste of my own medicine as this entire trip people have asked me the same question of how am I American and  can speak Spanish perfectly, and now I did it to this guy, it was a funny feeling.

So I told them I was at a camp ground down a few blocks. The young lady was freezing and looked like she could use a warm room as today was freezing cold outside, and thought I wouldn’t see them again.

Finallly got some food and went to the camp ground.

Used a “camping microwave” to heat up my sandwich, my first luxurious act on food so far, heating up a sandwich.

As I did I saw the couple circle around the camp ground.

So they decided to stay at the park as the cheapest hostal was $30US.

We chatted the entire night about everything. Beto the gentlemen was quite the interesting guy. I felt as if I was looking into the future as we had the same background and interests in various subjects.

It’s the first time in my life I’ve found anyone so similar to myself, it was quite humbling.

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