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Your Vacation in Chile: 5 Reasons to be Thankful!

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! ‘Tis the season for giving thanks and here in Chile there’s plenty to be thankful for. If you’re planning to visit in the coming weeks, take a look at the following reasons that you’ll be thankful you chose to take your vacation in Chile!

 

Thanks for the Food!

Pastel de ChocloEverybody knows that aside from giving thanks, eating is one of the most important Thanksgiving activities. You might not find many roast turkeys around these parts, but there’s certainly no shortage of pumpkin, or zapallo as it’s known here. We’ve yet to see a pumpkin pie, but deep-fried crispy sopaipillas - rounds of pumpkin dough - soaked in sticky syrup make the perfect dessert for the holiday (or any day!). The plentiful pumpkin can also be found melted into Chile’s famous porotos, or bean stew, and in hearty chunks bobbing in meaty casseroles. And if you’ve got a hankering for the sweet and savoury combo of sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, you’ll love Chile’s popular sugar-glazed pastel de choclo. This casserole dish can be found in any traditional Chilean restaurant and is made from mashed up corn and ground beef along with strips of chicken, maybe a black olive or two, onion, raisins and perhaps even a boiled egg, topped with a corn and caramelized sugar crust. A gourmet culinary day tour in Chile’s capital Santiago will introduce you to the best of local produce and give you a taste of traditional Chilean cooking.

Thanks for the Wine!

Carmenere WineWhile you’re filling up on festive food, you’ll need something to wash it all on its way. What could be better this holiday season than kicking back and relaxing with a nice full glass in hand. Chile has an increasingly impressive global reputation for its fruity and affordable wines, especially its Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Chardonnays. Most notable of all are the wineries that still produce the Carménère grape, which was thought to be extinct after a plague wiped out the last remaining vines in Europe in the late 1800s, but it continued to be grown in Chile even though it was only officially identified as the long lost Carménère as late as 1994. If savouring the spicy, cherry-like notes that were almost lost to us forever isn’t reason enough to be thankful, we don’t know what is! Aside from the wine itself, the expansive wineries are another reason to give thanks. There are 188 vineyards in Chile in total, spread throughout the country so you could easily spend weeks drifting along the neat rows of well-tended vines. Luckily, there are also many top-class wineries within easy striking distance from Santiago and if you don’t fancy the walk, cycling through the vineyards is the perfect way to sample a range of local wines all in one day.

Thanks for the Scenery!

Torres del Paine in PatagoniaOnce you’re done feasting and toasting, why not walk off that food baby with a family excursion in the great outdoors, because in Chile, the outdoors really is great in every sense of the word. Whilst winter closes in on the Northern hemisphere, down in Chile the weather is turning from balmy spring into sizzling summer, the perfect time of year to head out of the city and breathe in some fresh mountain air. From Santiago you can be hiking in the Andes in less than an hour by car, surrounded by the spectacular troughs and peaks topped with glistening eternal snow. Venturing further out of the capital, Chile’s Lake District is a true treat for the eyes, filled to bursting with - you guessed it - lakes, along with classic cone-shaped volcanoes and lush vegetation. The region is famed for its abundance of giant trees, including gangly monkey puzzle trees, coihue and larch trees. Heading north you’ll hit the Atacama Desert with its haunting moonscapes and explosive, steam-spurting geysers. And if you go far enough in the opposite direction you’ll eventually find yourself in legendary Patagonia, the land of creeping glaciers, jagged mountains and whistling winds.

Thanks for the Culture!

Plaza de Armas SantiagoChile may not have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade but there’s so much culture concentrated in Santiago and neighbouring Valparaíso that we guarantee you won’t even notice. Give thanks for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old port in Valparaíso, where brightly painted houses in every colour jostle for space on the crowded hills that back away from the bay. The city is home to one of the eccentric houses of Chile’s famous Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, who packed his homes with eclectic collections of trinkets and furniture from all around the world. The house, which is now a museum and monument to the poet, features a wooden carousel horse riding through the middle of the living room, stuffed birds hanging from the ceiling and captivating vistas over the bay from each of the many windows. Back in Santiago, the Mercado Central is a riot of sights and smells, the hub where locals stock up on the freshest of fish and seafood. Meanwhile bustling Plaza de Armas is the place where it all began, the very spot that Santiago was first founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia. Today it is alive with street-side artists and artisans along with dancers, singers and musicians. Cascada offers day tours of Santiago and Valparaíso, and even stopover tours in Santiago for those will little time on their hands.

Thanks for the Rest and Relaxation!

Easter Island MoaiWhen you’re rushing around at holiday time, make sure you make room for a little bit of R&R to stop you feeling frazzled. In Chile, it’s easy to get away from it all for some ‘me time’ at the naturally occurring hot springs found high in the Andes outside of Santiago. You’ll be thankful for the revitalising power of thermal waters as all of your problems melt away in the gently steaming pools. If retiring to a mountain retreat isn’t far enough, you could always try the ultimate getaway on an island retreat at Easter Island. This mystical haven is located far out in the Pacific Ocean, and is home to a National Park containing the well-known ancient carved stone heads called Moai, which is another of Chile’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The islanders worked in teams using chips of hard volcanic rock - and shovel load of patience! - to gradually chisel away at the softer stone until they produced these magnificent monuments. Mystery still surrounds the reasons why the islanders bothered to make these statues, but we’re just very thankful that they did! If even Easter Island doesn’t sound remote enough and you need to take the idea of an island retreat one step further, cast yourself away on Robinson Crusoe island, the wild and romantic setting of Daniel Defoe’s tale of a shipwrecked sailor.

After the fun of Thanksgiving comes the excitement of bagging a Black Friday bargain or a Cyber Monday steal. Stay posted for more details of Cascada’s unmissable Cyber Monday Sale, coming very soon!