Our trip to Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia was filled with a few bumps and some detours, but each hiccup lead to wonderful experiences we hadn't expected or planned. Our flight out was delayed due to Denver's first snow storm of the season (thanks denvy), which made us miss all of our connections. After hours on the phone with United, we had a new game plan, flying out the following day and spending three unplanned days in Santiago before continuing on to Punta Arenas.
We knew that regions surrounding Santiago were famous for their vineyards and wine, so we hopped on a bus to do a little exploration for ourselves. Our first stop was Bodegas Re, an amazing little vineyard with some kick butt wine blends. They invent their own blends such as Chardonnoir, Pinotel, Cabergnan, etc. By chance, we met another couple from the states on this tour, who kindly invited us to tag along to another vineyard, lunch by the sea, and exploring Vina del Mar and Valparaiso on the way.
Our lunch by the ocean consisted of some of the freshest sea food and of course, more wine.
Southern Chile is known for its lamb and BBQ. Lamb is smoked in small rooms within the restaurant, surrounded by glass windows, giving patrons a front row seat to the process. One of my favorite meals was Pichanga, an appetizer of olives, pickled vegetables, tomato, egg, cured meat and cheese. We ordered it at multiple restaurants and it we loved seeing each region's take on the dish.
One of the regions most famous drinks is a Calafate Sour. Similar to a pisco sour, it is made with Calafate berries, which grow like wildfire throughout Patagonia. It was a sweet & sour frothy drink that paired perfectly with the carnita tacos and pile of fries ;).
Our backpacking trek consisted of freeze dried meals, peanut butter, and water, fresh from the glacial runoff that tears its way through the national park. It's so clean that it doesn't need to be filtered or purified in order to drink it.
After backpacking, we enjoyed hot bevvies, more PICHANGA, and some whiskey.
A couple that worked at the Hostel in Puerto Natalaes were kind enough to make us a delicious dinner after our trek: a heaping bowl of pasta with avocado sauce and artichoke hearts.
Bread is generally served with house-made salsa or garlic aioli. And as you can see, portion sizes are BIG.
In El Calafate, we stumbled upon the small storefront of Helmich, a distillery founded by a man, whose family had immigrated to Argentina from Germany in the early 1900s. The spirits were amazing and he recommended that we dine at La Zaina, a restaurant just up the block.
We enjoyed one of my favorite meals of the trip, accompanied by good wine and a $22 pour of whiskey from Argentina's first single malt. The mushroom pasta and trout risotto were rich, delicious and so filling.
We killed time at numerous coffee shops and cafes throughout the trip, reading and talking about what we were looking forward to in 2017. Our trip was a combinations of successes and blunders, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.