Day 4: Monday, Vina del Mar

A look outside told me very little had improved with the weather. However, it makes you feel much better about sleeping until 1pm. We thought this would be the perfect day for venturing to Valpariso, the city just a couple miles south of Vina Del Mar. We asked our concierge to make a reservation for lunch at Brighton, a cute bed & breakfast over looking the sea, and asked how to get there and see the Cerro Conception: a place everyone talks about. Apparently it was right down the road. Equipped with a map and guide from Fodor’s and our hotel bellman’s assurance of ‘right down the road’ we ventured off. He was right, it was simple to find Valpariso. Unfortunately it was not so simple to find the point conception. Somehow the map had it in one place but when we got there, it seemed to be gone. We drove and drove, looking for the big bright yellow Victorian house where we were supposed to have lunch, or the large hill that was supposed to stand out, but only found the downtown district of Valpariso, teeming with people and small stores and grafitti. It was not the prettiest of towns, nor the cleanest or safest. We’d have been happy to ask for directions if we thought it would do anything, but alas, we know no Spanish and doubt we’d understand the answer. Nor did any of the bustling people look like they had any intention of stopping for anything. Kind of like New York. We drove up a few hills, as we know that the point conception was to be at the top of a hill, but only found small streets and alleys, many stray dogs and cats, and lots of poor homes. So, with our stomach’s growling, no idea where to eat and me about to throw Mr. Fodor out the window (they will be receiving a strongly worded letter from me), we ditched the idea and drove back. It was almost 4pm at this time, when most places close. So we headed to Enjoy del Mar to have a late lunch/appetizer. Despite our past experience there, we did hope to have a better meal. And indeed we did. But we also had our first corked bottle. We ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to start. Since the wines here are not overpriced or marked up (except in our hotel) very much, you can order a few. It’s like buying them retail, with many at $10 - $15. The Sauvignon Blanc came to our table, ice cold. Our waiter, who spoke no English (not a problem) sat the bottle down and disappeared. So we stared at this cold bottle of wine just sitting there. Our stomachs were growling, we were ready for food and/or wine. At length, he returned. With an ice bucket. He’d taken 10 minutes, with the already ice cold bottle sitting on our table unopened, to find an ice bucket. Kind of funny, I don’t know if it’s because of American’s liking things so cold or if it’s a Chilean thing, but everyone needs an ice bucket for wine. Our waiter had put our Pinot Noir in an ice bucket almost the whole time at dinner on Saturday, until we asked him to please take it out. While the Sauvignon Blanc was fine, Mike still decided to order a red: Carmenere from Errazuriz. It’s brought to our table, and alas, it’s corked. Since we’ve had trouble explaining this in English to waiters in San Francisco, I was dreading the explanation to a Spanish speaking server. We tried, and he brought over his slightly English speaking colleague. We tried to explain that the bottle was corked and also what a corked bottle was exactly, but she then explained how Carmenere was different and had a specific flavor. No, we said, we drink it in the US, we like it. This one is corked. So she just said it’s not a problem. She took the bottle away and left a little in the glass and then he brought a fresh bottle out. We tried to get him to smell both to see the difference, but I have no idea if it worked. I think he just thought we were crazy Americans. As did the other gal, although we did not finish the Carmenere and gave it to her - told her to taste it next to the other bottle for a difference. Towards the end of lunch it got nicer out and we ran to sit outside of our hotel. We relegated ourselves to the top level of the balcony as the bottom level, with the pool, was still half submerged under water.

We made dinner reservations for 10pm as we’d had such a late lunch and sat outside until 10. No pre-dinner cocktails this time, thankfully. We re-visited Savinya in the Hotel Del Mar. This time we ordered a Montes Alpha Syrah. The wine was much in the style of Australian Shiraz to Mike although I thought it had more of a central coast California feel. Either way, we did not liken it to a well-structured Syrah. It had fun notes of blueberry and jam, but lacked in the structured peppery notes and tannins that we enjoy. As Mike summed up, it was one-dimentional. Enjoyable, definitely, but just not showing the typicity that we so enjoy in Syrah.

Dinner was again delicious, I had some duck while Mike had wild boar papparedelle. Good service again and as we headed out, Mike decided he wanted to play craps. I was still nervous about playing in a casino with a different language, but in reality, I’m just nervous about gambling in general. I’ve never been to Vegas, but Mike says the rules here are much more relaxed. It was low betting, luckily, so I felt better about that. Language was not an issue, although we lost about $40.