Sunday November 10, 2014
No riding today. Just tourista things done on this fine day…
A Stranger in a Strange Land
Did you ever get that feeling that you’re from a land, which is far, far away from the place that you are in that moment. Well, this strange feeling can come over us when we’re in a new spot on the Globe, but it is not a guarantee that you’ll feel like a stranger. It is however quite likely. Especially if you’re one of those people that likes to apply logic to everything, and you’re in a place where logic is simply not applied to everything.
Sunday morning started for me, like every other day. I had a need for a cup of coffee, and I was up very early. Back in CA, I could jump in the car, and within 5 minutes, I could be at any one of three different coffee shops, all of which open up at 5:00, 7 days a week. Her in Santiago, they seem to really cherish their Sundays, which is of course fine, but…
Coffee shops don’t open until about 10:00 AM, and we had made a reservation with a tour company for a wine tour, and we expected to be picked up at 8:00 AM. So, how on Earth would I be able to get through the morning without a cup of coffee? The answer is that, thank goodness that I did not have to find out. Instead, using a little bit of ingenuity, I figured out a way to get coffee at 7:00 AM. In Chile, many gas stations are open 24 hrs, and most gas stations sell coffee and other light foods. So now, all I needed to do was to find a gas station.
The front desk directed me to a station that was about a 3 minute walk, and in an instant (no pun intended) I had some warm, but completely mediocre coffee in my hand. Having the coffee made the day start off right, and it was easy to ignore the quality of the coffee. Just having it in m y hand was enough for me.
The Wine Tour
The winery we chose was Concha Y Toro, the 2nd largest wine maker in the world. These guys are 2nd only to Earnest and Julio Gallo. When I booked the tour I did not know that it would be such an established and larger commercial venture. I was hoping that it would be like the little boutique wineries that I’ve come to love and which are in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, or even the Central Coast.
In NORCAL, we’re very lucky, but remember, there are still many, many wine lovers that Visit the Gallo winery, and go on tours. So, I want to be careful not to be to much of a Wine elitist, and to just enjoy the day.
That said, we did have a really nice day. Throughout the tour, we had a chance to taste their wines in two different locations. First of all, they gathered us all together and in splendid fashion, presented each of us with a glass of wine, arranged in this very aesthetically pleasing way, along the edge of a tasting bar. We had a chance to taste a few blends, which I’m not much of a fan of, but when you’re wine tasting in Chile, what’s not to love, right?
The tour continued and eventually we made our way down to one of the basement storage rooms. This where they keep their best wines, presumably the ones that they charge a premium amount for. After a little while our hostess disappeared, and the lights were turned out, in anticipation of a story about this wine cellar and about why the cellar is called Casillero de Diablo.
When in the cellar, we had a chance to see many barrels of wine, and were treated to the story about how the owner of the winery used the legend of this basement being haunted by the Devil as a way to deter thieves from stealing his wine.
I’m not a religious man, but I do believe in Angels. With any tour, so much of the enjoyment that you do or don’t have comes from the person that is giving the tour. On this tour, we met Barbara Venegas, our guide and hostess for the tour. Barbara had a nice smile, a soft Chilean accent, and a lovely personality. Barbara was with us throughout the one hour tour, and she spoke with a lot of enthusiasm, and you could see that she really loves what she’s doing. Each time we would have a taste, immediately after she asked a few questions to all of us, and when she was satisfied with the answers, she pronounced “Salute'” and drank the wine down with zeal. You have to love a woman that is drinking wine with you at 11:00 AM.
Rather than thinking of her as our guide, I prefer to think of her as my Wine Angel, looking over me in this far away land.
This is fun, but what about the motorcycle
I’m not much of a sightseer, and even though we’ve had a great couple of days in Santiago, I’m looking forward to our trip to Pucon, Chile tomorrow. We’ll spend a few days there getting the bikes properly sized and configured, and then head South, towards Ushuaia.
Tonight, at 6PM, our little group of intrepid travelers will get together to have dinner, discuss the trip, and learn about some of the logistics that will carry us through the rest of the journey. Our guide’s name is Eduardo, and we’ve already received a welcome message from him. Well, actually it was a form letter with his name in it, but I felt touched and inspired nevertheless.
The whole point of starting in Pucon, where the bikes are kept is so that we can get them properly fitted and so that the Guide can gauge our riding ability. As it just so happens, because of my height (yep, I’m in the 1 percentile of height enriched men), I’ve brought with me a number of “goodies” that will allow me to have much better fittment on the bike. I’ll be installing handlebar risers, lower footpegs, and a bevvy of electronics gear.
Knowing me as you do, i’m sure this does not surprise any of you. So, off we go, next stop, Pucon, Chile.