When visiting Santiago, Chile last November, Dan and I took a day trip to Valparaiso, Chile’s uber colorful port city with a dicy reputation. We had originally planned to stay a night or two in Valparaiso, but the timing did not work out and I was satisfied with our day trip. In fact, since it was so easy to visit as a day trip from Santiago, I would recommend most visitors with limited time to visit Valparaiso via a day trip from Santiago.
Dan and I love a good lounge, whether its in an airport or a hotel, we love free food and drinks. We also really enjoy staying for free on hotel points. When we booked our trip to Chile last year, we immediately looked at all hotels where we could redeem points for our stay. The Double Tree by Hilton Santiago – Vitacura was a candidate and we ended up booking four nights here based on the point redemption and the hotel’s location. It didn’t hurt that Dan has Diamond Status at Hilton either.
Santiago is the capital of Chile, the long, skinny country on the Western side of South America. Chile is bordered to the right by the Andes mountains, to the left by the Pacific Ocean, to the North by the desert, and to the South by glaciers. Due to its isolated location, Chile is indeed unique and extremely proud of its country and local products. Side note – to protect this status, Chile is also very particular about what one can bring into the country (wine is allowed).
The Canelones wine region, Uruguay’s most popular wine region, is located just outside of Montevideo. Since its so close to Montevideo, its definitely feasible to explore some of its wineries on a day trip from Montevideo. As you may know, Dan and I are big fans of Uruguayan wine, and we decided to fit in a little wine touring when we were in Montevideo last Thanksgiving!
A day trip to Canelones is very easy if you have a rental car; you can just drive from Montevideo and park on site. If you don’t have a car, some companies run tours from Montevideo or you could hire an Uber. We did not have a car, but we came across an offer from Bodega Bouza to participate in a 1/2 day tour with lunch and transportation to and from our hotel, and we signed up for it! The tour was very well run and I would absolutely do this tour again.
Last November, Dan and I traveled to Western Uruguay to visit Dan’s favorite winery – Narbona! Prior to our trip, however, I really knew nothing about Western Uruguay, and not really not that much about Uruguayan wine. But, to our lovely surprise, Western Uruguay is home to a handful of vineyards and has even been referred to as the Tuscany of South America by the New York Times!
That being said, and while we had an absolutely wonderful time, I found it incredibly difficult to plan our winery visits in Carmelo. Aside from that old New York Times article, there is not much information online about Western Uruguayan vineyards, and even less in English. After doing tons of research on the area, lots of Google mapping, and Facebook messaging vineyards in broken Spanish, we successfully visiting five vineyards, and here is my guide to wine tasting in Carmelo, Uruguay!
Dan, my husband, and I first encountered Narbona wine several years ago at Salt Creek Grille in Princeton, New Jersey (a great restaurant – get the fries!). One of its managers, Hugh Preece, introduced us to Narbona’s 2011 Tannat, and we instantly fell in love with the wine. Side note – Hugh also introduced us to Portuguese wine, which eventually led us to getting married in Portugal…
Back to the wine, the 2011 Narbona Tannat was big, tannic and everything we love in wine. We proceeded to order numerous cases from various wine distributors in the US and, when they eventually sold out (possibly to us?), we decided that we needed to visit the Narbona vineyards in Uruguay. It didn’t hurt that I have been wanting to visit Uruguay for a while, and that Anthony Bourdain had recently visited Uruguay. In any case, we made reservations at the Narbona Wine Lodge over US Thanksgiving 2018!
On arrival, the Narbona Wine Lodge was everything we wanted and more! However, it was slow and definitely a place to get away from it all. And, it was difficult to find any reviews online so, here you are!
American Express offers a series of airport lounges in the US, as well as a few outside of the US, which are complimentary for certain cardholders, including American Express Platinum cardholders. Since I have the American Express Platinum, I enjoy free access to these lounges. I first experienced a Centurion Lounge in Buenos Aries Ezeiza Airport (EZE), and have been a bit obsessed ever since. The Centurion Lounges in the US are rumored to be much nicer than the international lounges, but I, unfortunately, have not visited enough of these lounges to make a firm decision.
Merced Market is Mexico City’s (and North America’s) largest market and it sells anything and everything that one could possibly need. Located on the fringe of the Zocalo neighborhood, a visit to the Merced Market can be overwhelming, and possibly a bit scary, especially for non-Spanish speakers. As such, Dan and I booked a tour of the Merced Market with a local tour company – Eat Mexico – to eat some good food and explore the market.
So before you start reading, know that this was one of Dan and my favorite meals in Mexico City!, and we totally stumbled into having dinner here! I found Broka Bistrot on a travel website (I think Afar…) and I boked a table solely based on the beautiful pictures of Broka Bistrot’s dining roo.. It didn’t hurt that it got good reviews or that it was open on Sunday… In any case, it turned out to be amazing AND, its soft crab shell tacos were better than the ones at Pujol (yep, that was true!!).
If you read this post, you may have gathered that Dan and I planned a trip to Mexico City just to eat. Yes, that did, indeed, happen. Since our trip was all about food, we simply had to eat at Pujol, a Michelin starred restaurant run by famous chef Enrique Olvera that was recently ranked as the 13th best restaurant in the world! I made the reservation in January, before we even booked the plane tickets… Even as early as January, dinner was already full, so lunch it was for us! We booked the 13:30 time slot, the first one available, in an effort not to spoil any dinner…(spolier alert, that was not succesful!).
Just before lunch, we were in the Zocalo neighborhood, so we took a quick Uber ride to Pujol. We arried a bit early, so we walked around Polanco a bit before entering the restaurant right at 13:30. Polanco is quite swanky – lots of very high end shops, including the most beautiful Louis Vuitton!