Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Boragó - gourmet dining

As a birthday treat, Daniel took me to the famous Boragó restaurant in Santiago. The restaurant sources all of its ingredients from within Chile. While fish and other meat may be sent up from organic farms in the south, the team of chefs forage for herbs, mushrooms, sea weed and other delicacies themselves. In the restaurant, diners can watch the chefs plating up each dish in the kitchen

Watching the chefs at work

Mora berry pisco sour to start

Boragó creates its own tasting menu for its diners, choosing delicacies from around Chile and turning them into gastronomical masterpieces. All the dishes are served on unique plates made from slate, granite, wood, rock, clay, etc. The portion sizes may be tiny, but the taste is explosive!

Chancharro y nalcas de Chiloé

Chupe de setas de pino

Corvina y hierbas de playa

Ternera y su leche

Chirimoya contenta y zanahoria

Each tasting was accompanied by delicious Chilean wine pairings. We sampled some amazing boutique wines and I particularly enjoyed drinking chicha out of a calf horn!

Chicha served in a calf horn. Apparently the president drinks
it like this every 19 September.

The chicha was served with Oveja y ruibarbo chilote
(a.k.a manjar candy floss and marshmallow sheep!)

At the end of the dinner, our waiter brought us a rock with two tiny round white crisps on it. We scooped them up on our fingers and popped them into our mouths. A second later we were breathing smoke through our mouths, nostrils and ears! It was a mint-flavoured 'glacial ice', a real palette cleanser to round off a superb evening of fine dining.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Overall Winner - Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon

Daniel participated in his first ultra marathon in South Africa and he won the race in a course record of 22:02:57! His dad and brother also ran the race and the family in luminous green were the first father-and-sons team to finish the race.

Looking strong!

Daniel in action on Stage 4

The Rowland family at the finish line

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rio de Janeiro

At the end of August I travelled to Rio de Janeiro for a three-day IB conference. I tacked a couple of days onto the end of the course for myself so I could explore the Brazilian city. Rio is a fascinating blend of rich and poor, tourist and local. The conference was at the American School, a high-tech secure location adjacent to a favela, a Brazilian shanty town. Everywhere we went in Rio, we passed favelas and mansions within blocks of each other. What a contrast!

View of a favela from the American School

Apart from this stark contrast, Rio is also characterised by its many beaches. My hotel was on the Copacabana Beach, a 4km stretch of white sand, palm trees and cafes. I stopped for some agua de coco (coconut water) and, of course, some typical Brazilian caipirinhas (cocktails).

Enjoying agua de coco on Copacabana Beach

Some sandcastles on Copacabana Beach advertising the
2014 Soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games coming to Rio.

I went on a tour of the very hilly city to see the famous sites. The tour took us past some cathedrals, the famous Maracanã Soccer Stadium and the Sambódromo, a venue for the float parades in the Rio Carnival. We also went up Corcovado Hill in the Tijuca National Forest to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and enjoy spectacular views over the city.

Cristo Redentor watching over Rio de Janeiro

In front of the Christ the Redeemer statue

A beautiful view over Rio

The last stop on the tour was a cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar), a peak at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, with views over the bay, the Yacht Club and the statue of Christ. I enjoyed a beautiful sunset there before returning for my last caipirinha in Brazil.

The cable car descending from Sugarloaf

Monday, July 15, 2013


We treated ourselves to a weekend trip across the border to Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza lies in the foothills on the eastern side of the Andes, and is frequently visited by Chileans looking for some great steak!

The city coat of arms lit up at night

Plaza Independencia, a vibrant park which attracts tourists and Mendocinos alike

All the fountains in the plaza had blue water - very patriotic!

Mendoza is most famous for its olive oil production and its wine making. It is the largest wine-producing area in South America and is home to 1,400 wineries! We went on a fantastic tour of the region, stopping at two vineyards (Vistandes and Viña del Cerno), an olive oil farm (PasRai) and a home-industries shop (A la Antigua).

Wine tasting for two!
At each vineyard we received a private tour in English.
Oak barrels at Vistandes wine estate
Flavoured olive oils drizzled on sundried tomato and olive pestos
Sampling some delicious homemade olive pastes at A la Antigua

It's always nice to travel to new places, but Mendoza did not make our list of 'best places visited'. While the wine tour was excellent, we found the city itself to be lacking in the charm and appeal which we had heard so much about.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

La Sebastiana

We finally made it to Pablo Neruda's third house in Valparaiso. Chile's most famous poet spent a lot of time in his 5-storey house overlooking the colourful tin city and the Pacific Ocean.

A statue of Pablo Neruda in Plaza de los Poetas, outside his house

La Sebastiana: Neruda's study is the single room on the top floor

View from Neruda's house over the hills of Valparaiso and the sea

The house is situated on Cerro Florida, just behind Cerro Bellavista and Cerro Mariposa. On our steep trek up the hills, we passed through the Museo de Ceilo Abierto - Open Air Museum - and saw some new and unusual murals.

Mural of an "ascensor"

One of the famous hummingbirds of Valparaiso

Mini murals of the city

Monday, May 27, 2013

Glacier El Morado

Which way?

We went with a friend to the quaint town of Baños Morales, at the east end of Cajon del Maipo, 92km southeast of Santiago. The town itself is a picturesque village of colourful houses amidst tall trees, barns, a winding river, a windmill, a waterwheel; basically everything prerequisite in a cute little village without being kitsch!

From here we entered a National Park and followed an 8km trail which took us to a small lake and glacier at the end. We had a picnic at the lake and walked up quite close to the bottom of the glacier, Glaciar El Morado.

The trail we followed

The laguna with the glacial backdrop - a perfect place for a picnic

A glimpse of the bright blue glacial ice running through the snow-covered rocks

It was great to see yet another new part of Chile and, of course, to see a little glacier!

Us in front of the glacier

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Santuario de la Naturaleza

We enjoyed a lovely, mid-week public holiday at a nature reserve on the outskirts of Santiago. Santuario de la Naturaleza is a popular spot for walks and picnics, so we drove up and spent the morning exploring new trails, enjoying the changing leaves, and admiring the picturesque river.

View down through the valley, complete with a ghost house!

Near the top of the trail

A perfect site to enjoy a picnic

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Overall Winner - Atacama Crossing 2013

Daniel won the Atacama Crossing 2013! It was a nail-biting race through the Atacama Desert with a new course record on Stage 1 and a sprint finish on Stage 2. Daniel won the first five stages in a row, securing his victory before the final day. He ran the 250km in a time of 26:17:51.

Leading the way through the desert

Leading the way on Stage 6

Crossing the finish line as the overall winner

I was at the finish line to welcome him home with his medal and a big hug and kiss!

A hug for the champion

Happy Team 505 at the finish line

Daniel with his winner's shield, leader's number and finisher's medal

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Valle de la Luna

Our last tour in the desert was to the Valley of the Moon, 13km west of San Pedro. The valley is so-named because its stark landscape resembles the surface of the moon. It is famous for its sweeping sand dunes, salt caves, natural amphithetres and various stone and sand formations which have been carved by wind and water. Our first stop was at the Tres Marias, a natural rock structure which apparently looks like three praying women...

Las Tres Marias (right to left): Maria praying on her knees, Maria holding baby Jesus, Maria destroyed by a tourist

Us in front of the Three Marias

A salty T-Rex!
The amphitheatre

The salt road leading out of the Valley of the Moon

We climbed up the Duna Mayor, the highest dune in the valley, for great views over the valley and the Andean peaks and volcanoes.

Tourists climbing the sand dunes

View of the amphitheatre from the top of the dune

The lunar landscape

The Valley of the Moon is considered one of the driest places on earth. On our way out, we stopped at a bright white section of salt. It used to be covered in dirt and sand, but thanks to the freak rain two weeks ago the ground has been cleaned and the salt crystals are gleaming.

Our last stop was to watch the sunset in the Cordillera de la Sal (salt mountain range). As ever, it was a spectacular blend of colours and a beautiful way to finish off our sightseeing in the desert.

Salt-covered canyons in the desert

Another beautiful desert sunset