Thursday, August 29, 2013

Skiing in the Summer in Chile - Part 1

Both Shannon and I are avid skiers, which may make sense since we met in Jackson Hole, WY while I was working at Grand Targhee Ski Resort and she was working for the Four Seasons, Jackson Hole. Although when we lived in Reno, NV, we did not ski as much due to work constraints. We knew that when we moved to the Virgin Islands, skiing on snow was not available. We had skied in Chile for our honeymoon back in July 2003. We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and what better way to escape the heat of the summer in the islands, but to go south to Chile where it was their Winter for two weeks.

We made plane reservations back in December to leave August 6th and return on Aug 20th. We realized from our last visit that skiing in Chile in July is not the best as most of their schools are out on vacation and the resorts are crowded and prices are high!

We started a week before we left pulling out all of our winter clothes and gear. Much to our surprise, many of our clothes and gloves were covered in mold. Throwing them into the washing machine seemed to solve that issue. It was so weird packing all of these heavy and bulky clothes!

The morning we were going to leave we took the car ferry from St Thomas to St John to drop the dogs off at Canines, Cats & Critters. They do boarding there and it is also a vet office so if your pet is going to be sick, you have a doctor there! They do play time with the dogs and post their pictures while you are away on Facebook. The staff there is very caring too! They charge $35/day per dog with a 10% discount for each additional dog. St Thomas residents, they will meet you at the ferry dock, the people ferry allows dogs if the are muzzled. For more info on them, here is their info.

Now go back to St Thomas and to our house to finish closing up the house and putting up the hurricane shutters (you never know if you are going to get a storm?) and off to the airport! 

When we pulling out our skis out of the car, the looks were pretty funny, even the TSA guy couldn't believe we had skis in the VI! We left at 4:30 and had a layover in Miami as our flight wasn't until 11:00 PM and was a 8 hour red eye. The solution to this is to fly Business Class so you get a lie flat seat. I love having frequent flier miles. After hanging out in the Admirals Club in Miami it was time to get on the flying tube for our 8 hour flight into Santiago, Chile. 

It is really too bad American Airlines has such old and outdated planes with the same in their flight attendants. I tried to get on LAN but wasn't able to as they don't have our route in their schedule. I managed to get some sleep for about 4 hours and woke up to a cloud layer and the Andes Mountains at sunrise. 

We landed at about 7 AM to a cool rain and 40 degrees. We went through customs and paid $160 each for our visas (the reason they charge that much is the US Charges Chileans that to come to the US, too bad we don't charge British Virgin Islanders $10 like they charge us?). We collected our luggage and went and got our wheels for the next two weeks, a 2012 Toyota 4 Runner. If you know me, you can only guess how psyched I was to have that rig, being that we have a 2004 4Runner and a Tacoma? We rented the 4Runner for $75/day from Econorent

After walking to the car in the cold rain, I forgot how the Chileans are always in a hurry. The car rental guy wanted me to fill out the damage form before I even got our bags in the car as it was pouring rain. After realizing that our Ipad wasn't going to work with the GPS Elf, we pulled out our old paper map from 10 years ago. If we managed to navigate 10 years ago with a paper map, we should be able to do it again? 

We were both tired and not looking forward to getting on the highways of crowded Santiago. We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us on our way to Nevados de Chillean. The good news about 2.5 hours into the drive we were going to stop at a winery right outside of San Fernando, Casa Silva. 

When we were trying to find Casa Silva, we wandered onto another winery, Santa Helena. There we bought a few wines which ended up being pretty good! 

It was only 11:30 AM, so now time to go over to Casa Silva. We first stopped at their wine store to buy some more wine (we brought home a bottle of their Pinot Nior to have on a special occasion). 

It was really weird how we were the only people at these places? Well off to their restaurant for some lunch. Their restaurant is located on a polo field and behind the polo field was some rodeo grounds. They also have a hotel there. The restaurant was great! We each had a glass of wine by the fireplace. We had forgotten how Chileans really don't heat up their indoor space, they will have a fireplace with a couple of logs on it or a wood stove to heat an entire restaurant. And they also dress with coats or fleeces on when dining.). They brought out some breads to start, and immediately it brought back memories of how good the breads are there.  I call their breads, "hockey pucks" as they come in the shape of a puck, although they are not hard. We then had an appetizer of cheese and squid empenadas. Empenadas are a very popular dish in Chile. For a main course, we were both cold being in the tropics the day before, so we both had the cazeula beef soup which was excellent! That soup is also a popular dish there. If you want to figure out the prices there, divide by 500 to get dollars. 

After a great lunch, it was time to hit the road again. Next stop is a 3 hour drive to the City of Chillan to go grocery shopping for our cabana. 

Stay tuned for our next stop!


  1. Enjoy your blog entries. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Thanks Anonymous for your kind words, sometimes I wonder if anyone is reading the blog! LOL!

  3. Pete and Tonya - TennesseeSeptember 9, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Hi - Pete from near Nashville, Tennessee. I happened upon your blog, and enjoyed wasting a few hours today reading it. Been thinking of ditching Tennessee and heading for the tropics - and your blog has helped bring some realization to that idea. My wife wasn't too thrilled to hear about the power outages, high price of food and gas, and the issues with drinking water. But the many days trips you describe certainly sound fun too. We have never been to the VI - when would be the best time to visit, and not be caught in tourist peak? Also - are there advantages of living on St. Croix versus St. Thomas? Thanks and feel free to respond in island time... whenever the hell you want to !

  4. Hi Pete! Thanks for reading the blog! Best times are June - Christmas. If you are looking for the bes times in the Winter, early December and January or April. St Croix is a great island but it feels like a ghost town now that the oil refinery has closed and our government here screwed up working out a deal to get it running again. I posted a blog post about it there. I think St Thomas is more vibrant with more job opportunities and shopping choices with an airport that can get you anywhere. Not to mention the location to boat to some many other island choices for day trips. STX is pretty isolated and most boating day trips are just to their Buck Island.


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