High Life Livin and Spicy Fried Chicken.

Trip Start Sep 15, 2008
Trip End Jan 01, 2009

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Flag of Chile  ,
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Almost a year ago we bid on, and won, 2 nights accomodation and breakfast at any Ritz Carlton in the world at a silent auction.  The plan, made before we were heading on this RTW trip,  was to use the two nights to visit NY, NY.   The only Ritz Carlton in South America is in Santiago so instead of New York we decided to use it as an escape from backpacker world into luxury travel world halfway through our trip to the continent.  Our expectations were high, as the hotel was rated the #1 hotel in South America by Travel and Leisure Magazine.  Funny, going from the absolute worst in South America in Mancora to the absolute best at the Ritz! 
After some confusion finding the hotel we arrived at one of the most oppulent hotels we had ever seen (in actuallity the Wickaninish Inn in Tofino is a little bit nicer but in a different way).  Jeans, backpacks, probably a little stink, and hiking shoes...we weren't the tyical Ritz hotel guest.   
Our room was 750 sqr.ft. of absolute luxury.  Living room, entrance, bedroom, and bathroom designed with the most discerning taste in mind.  We immediately jumped into the provided robes and ran around giggling like little kids on Christmas Day.  The 15th floor pool was spectacular and the lobby made the Cousino family Palace look simple.  The lobby had free juice in the morning, wine in the afternoon, and fruit after that. 
Because we didn't have the attire to meet the hotel restaurants dresscode we decided to stop by a nearby restaurant.  Those who know us well, know we love Chicken Wing Wednesday and in 3 months we were going into withdrawls...it was Wednesday and we saw a Ruby Tuesdays, perfecto! 
Breakfast in bed - regular price $40 a pop per person!!!  If we didn't have the certificates we would be spending more on breakfast for one than we have at any hotel or hostel  for both of us our entire trip!  The rest of the day we lounged around the pool, and took advantage of anything that was free (juice, soap, newspapers, sowing kits, and towels).  We also stopped by the downtown shopping district to pickup a Christmas present for each other.   We had spied a micro 8inch acer laptop the day before and with some early Christmas help from Arik's Mom we splurged (Thank you!).  The first day of relaxation went so well the next day we rinsed and repeated.  Except for lunch we found a Subway which left us smiling ear to ear.
Checkout time happened way too soon.  It was a good thing we had the free stay and breakfast coupon otherwise our 2 nights of extreme luxury would have cost about the same amount we spent our entire time in Colombia...
Charis' Summary: It was a fantastic two days and was difficult to leave. The highlights were definitley having a bath for the first time since leaving home and flushing toilet paper down the toilet!! It was a great couple of days but will be nice to get back on the road and see some more countries!
Arik's Summary: Luxurious, yes, it really was an amazing place.  That being said it lacked the character, busyness, and feel of a typical backpacker joint.  Extremely relaxed and cleaner than I've been since leaving Canada I was also looking forward to getting on the road to continue the adventure.
Last stops in Santiago
Our last day we checked out a winery, Choncha Y Toro, by metro (that's right, wine tours by subway...what a great city).  The winery was founded with french vines in the 1800's and since then has grown into one of the best and biggest wineries in the world.  They produce 225 Million litres of wine per year, and their Don Melchor Cab. Sav. Is regularly rated in the top 5 to 10 best wines of the world (we tasted it).  Concha y Toro also produce the brand, Casillero Del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil) so of course we had to tour the cellar where the supposed devil lived.  Part way through the tour they lock you in the cellar,  turn out the lights, and tell the tale of how the name came about in spooky ghost story style.  While on the tour we met a young couple from Vancouver and a German girl who had just finished her Law Degree and was getting away before starting the grind of a legal career.
After the winery it was back to a hostel to enjoy our last night in town before heading over the Andes into Argentina...
So long Santiago! 
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