Casas del Bosque Winery, Casablanca, Chile

Last year we travelled through the Casablanca Valley, one of Chile’s World-renowned wine making regions, on the way from Santiago to Valparaiso. Although we enjoyed the beauty of the landscape, with Rich and I not being wine drinkers and there being so many other things to do in the area, on that occasion we decided to give the wineries a miss.

Casablanca Valley

Casablanca Valley

Upon returning home, a friend who works in the wine industry (you know who you are… Amy!) was quick to point out the error of our ways. So, when we were lucky enough to pass through the Casablanca Valley once again this year, we seized the opportunity to correct our scandalous oversight.

Although the Casablanca Valley is an extremely young wine making region (the first grapes weren’t planted there until the mid-1980s), there are dozens of wineries to choose from. With the help of Antonio, our Santiago-based guide from AFIServices, we decided to visit the internationally known, Casas del Bosque.

Casas del Bosque

Casas del Bosque

Cases del Bosque entrance

Cases del Bosque entrance

Cases del Bosque, which means Houses of the Forest, was founded in 1993. It remains one of the few family owned and operated wineries in the Casablanca Valley.

Outdoor tasting area

Outdoor tasting area

Laboratory

Laboratory

As you would hope, our tour began out among the vines. Despite having a modest 573 acres under cultivation, Casas del Bosque’s Casablanca Valley vineyard grows three varieties of white grape (Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc) and two varieties of red grape (Syrah and Pinot Noir).

Vines close to the main building - every area within the vineyard has a unique soil type and micro-climate, each combination suited to a particular grape variety

Vines close to the main building – every area within the vineyard has a unique soil type and micro-climate, each combination suited to a particular grape variety

Down among the vines

Down among the vines

Young grapes

Young grapes

From the vines, our tour continued through the fermentation area…

Steel tanks in the fermentation area

Steel tanks in the fermentation area

DSC_3168DSC_3175…To the bottling section…

One of the bottling lines - can you spot the deliberate mistake?...

One of the bottling lines – can you spot the deliberate mistake?…

What a waste!

What a waste!

Lots and lots of bottles!

Lots and lots of bottles!

If you look carefully, you can see a reflection of Rich taking the photo!

If you look carefully, you can see a reflection of Rich taking the photo!

And again

And again

I love colours and depth of field in this photo

I love colours and depth of field in this photo

…Culminating the Barrel Aging Cellar.

Casas del Bosque use French oak barrels to age their wines

Casas del Bosque use French oak barrels to age their wines

There are quite a few of them

There are quite a few of them

As you can imagine, the smell in the Barrel Cellar was amazing

As you can imagine, the smell in the Barrel Cellar was amazing

Of course, whether or not you drink wine, it would be rude to visit a winery and not at least taste their product. In this regard, Rich and Sue were more than happy to be courteous!

The 242 Tasting Room at Casas del Bosque

The 242 Tasting Room at Casas del Bosque

Arty shot of wine glasses and reflections... but there's something missing...

Arty shot of wine glasses and reflections… but there’s something missing…

... That's better!

… That’s better!

I don't drink myself, but the aromas were wonderful!

I don’t drink myself, but the aromas were wonderful!

This post was inspired by the photo theme of  Happy from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Bottle from Jennifer Nichole Wells, and Reflective Surfaces from Nancy Merrill.

Feeling happy with Sue and Rich at Casas del Bosque

Feeling happy with Sue and Rich at Casas del Bosque

If you’re the sort of person that loves to experience local flavours on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

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The Great Migration Republished!

I’m so proud and happy to announce that, after a hiatus of five years, Rich’s first novel about my adventures, Jaspa’s Journey: The Great Migration, is again available in both paperback and ebook formats!

DSC_6013The Great Migration, which is set on Africa’s Serengeti Plains, was originally released by DreamCatcher Publishing in 2009. It was very well received by readers young and (to our endless delight) old alike. It was even an award-winning finalist in USA Book News’ Best Books 2009.

Things were looking really promising! Especially with the sequel, Jaspa’s Journey 2: The Pride of London, ready to go.

DSC_6015Then the unthinkable happened: the owner of DreamCatcher sadly died, the company closed and suddenly we were once again without a publisher.

So you can imagine just how thrilling it is to be able to announce the re-release of The Great Migration by American publisher Speaking Volumes!

DSC_6016By chance, Rich’s first copy of the new paperback arrived in the mail this Monday, seven years to the day since the original launch party. Hopefully, it’s an omen of big things to come!

For those that aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:

DSC_6014You can get your paperback or ebook copy of The Great Migration from Amazon (search Jaspa’s Journey in your regional version) or direct from Speaking Volumes.

The ebook is also downloadable from iTunes (again, search Jaspa’s Journey in your regional version).

In the States, you can get both paperback and ebook versions through Barnes & Noble. Hopefully, they will also soon be available in Canada from Chapters-Indigo  and the U.K. via Waterstones.

DSC_6012And if that’s not enough for you, the first two sequels – The Pride of London and Jaspa’s Waterloo – are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes in the near future.

This post coincides perfectly with this week’s photo theme of Book from Jennifer Nichole Wells. Perhaps that’s another omen!!

You can follow my continuing, real-life Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

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Osorno Volcano, Patagonia, Chile

During our most recent visit to South America, we had a fantastic day trip from Puerto Montt into the stunning Chilean Lake District. In addition to our tour guide, Patty, our constant companion for the day was the Osorno volcano (Volcán Osorno).

DSC_3913We got our first view of this 8701-feet-tall, jaw-dropping stratovolcano as we left Puerto Montt on our way to Lake Llanquihue. From then on, it was visible pretty much the entire day.

Four characteristics of Osorno volcano really captured our imagination. The first was its amazing symmetry.

DSC_4056The second was the rugged beauty of its glacier-crowned summit.

DSC_4012DSC_4011DSC_4010The third was that, no matter what angle we viewed it from, it appeared to stand alone, its white, snow-capped peak silhouetted against the perfect blue sky.

DSC_3936The fourth was that it’s still active, a fact brought into sharp focus by the spectacular eruption of the neighbouring Calbuco volcano less than ten months before our visit. (What I wouldn’t have given to have witnessed that!)

Calbuco volcano from Osorno

Calbuco volcano from Osorno

Calbuco's peak looked very different a year ago

Calbuco’s peak looked very different a year ago

Osorno from the ash debris deposited by Calbuco in April 2015

Osorno from the ash debris deposited by Calbuco in April 2015

Over the course of the day we saw Volcán Osorno across the pristine waters of Lake Llanquihue…

Osorno volcano across Lake Llanquihue

Osorno volcano across Lake Llanquihue

DSC_3925…From the tumbling cascades of the Saltos del Petrohue waterfalls…

Osorno from Saltos del Petrohue (teaser for a future post about the waterfalls)

Osorno from Saltos del Petrohue (teaser for a future post about the waterfalls)

…And up close and personal, climbing to within a stone’s throw of its glaciers.

Heading up Osorno

Heading up Osorno

Time for a hike

Time for a hike

DSC_4019DSC_4020

Petrohue Valley from the flanks of Osorno volcano

Petrohue Valley from the flanks of Osorno volcano

Like being on the Moon

Like being on the Moon

Many thanks to Denis Purtov of Puerto Montt Excursions for arranging our unforgettable day.

A few tendrils of cloud drifted past during our hike

A few tendrils of cloud drifted past during our hike

DSC_4030

DSC_4031This post was inspired by the photo theme of  The Colors White and Blue from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Calbuco and the eastern end of Lake Llanquihue

Calbuco and the eastern end of Lake Llanquihue

If you’re the sort of person that loves to experience the wonders of nature on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

Osorno (left) and Calbuco (right) across Lake Llanquihue from Puerto Varas

Osorno (left) and Calbuco (right) across Lake Llanquihue from Puerto Varas

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Seattle Space Needle

For me, the Space Needle in Seattle looks like a spaceship balanced on top of a telecommunications antenna, and more than a little bit like a War of the Worlds tripod. And I love it!

IMG_8110 (stitch)Despite now being more than half a century old, the Space Needle still retains that futuristic feel I’m sure the designers had in mind. It was built in just 12 months for the 1962 World’s Fair, from a design that started off as a doodle on a paper placemat.

IMG_8109 IMG_3724 IMG_3707At the time of construction, the Space Needle was the tallest building in western North America. Unsurprisingly then, the views from the top are terrific!

Downtown Seattle and the harbour

Downtown Seattle and the harbour

Seattle waterfront

Seattle waterfront

Looking west towards the Olympic Mountains (thanks to Seattle Park Lover for correcting my earlier blunder!)

Looking west towards the Olympic Mountains (thanks to Seattle Park Lover for correcting my earlier blunder!)

I’m fortunate enough to have been to Seattle, and up the Space Needle, on two separate occasions, five years apart. Can you spot which photos belong to each visit?

IMG_8122This post was inspired by this week’s photo challenges Future from Jen of The Daily Post and Balance from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

IMG_3726If you’re the sort of person that loves taking in something old, something new on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Pan American Highway

The Pan American Highway is said to connect almost every mainland country in the Americas. It forms a continuous network of highways, bar for one 60 mile hiatus in Panamanian rain forest, called Darién Gap.

Looking at the map of the Pan American Highway, I was amazed by how often my Journeys have coincide with it. I’ve come across it no end of times in the USA and Canada. And in the last 12 months alone, I’ve encountered stretches of the highway in no fewer than four Central and South American Countries.

In Panama, we drove on it through Panama City and sailed under it when we entered the Panama Canal.

Approaching the Bridge of the Americas, which carries the Pan American Highway across the Panama Canal

Approaching the Bridge of the Americas, which carries the Pan American Highway across the Panama Canal

Entering the Panama Canal

Entering the Panama Canal

Passing under the Pan American Highway

Passing under the Pan American Highway

In Peru we saw it in every place we visited, from Trujillo to Lima. We even looked down on it from the air during our flight over the Nazca Lines.

The Pan American Highway passing (left to right) through the town of Ica, Peru

The Pan American Highway passing (left to right) through the town of Ica, Peru

In the desert near Nazca, Peru

In the desert near Nazca, Peru

Looking down on the Pan American Highway and the Nazca Lines

Looking down on the Pan American Highway and the Nazca Lines

Pan American Highway passing the Pachacámac Archaeological Complex, just outside Lima, Peru

Pan American Highway passing the Pachacámac Archaeological Complex, just outside Lima, Peru

In Chile we travelled along sections in and around La Serena, Santiago and Puerto Montt.

Orsono Volcano from Puerto Varas, Chile (photo taken less than a mile from the Pan American Highway)

Orsono Volcano from Puerto Varas, Chile
(photo taken less than a mile from the Pan American Highway)

In Argentina, we used it in Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia. We even visited its southernmost end in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

End of the Road: Sue, Rich and me at the southermost extremity of the Pan American Highway

End of the Road: Sue, Rich and me at the southernmost extremity of the Pan American Highway

This post was inspired by the photo theme of  Freeways, Expressways, Highways from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

If you’re the sort of person that loves to wander, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Dawn at Cape Horn

Few places on Earth have a reputation as forbidding as Cape Horn.

Our first view of Cape Horn

Our first view of Cape Horn

Over the centuries, the seas around this remote speck of land have claimed thousands of sailors’ lives (a topic also discussed in last week’s post, The Albatross At The End Of The World).

Cape Horn

Cape Horn

The southernmost tip of the southernmost island in South America

The southernmost tip of the southernmost island in South America

Isla Hornos

Isla Hornos

Unsurprisingly, although we were looking forward to our visit to this infamous location, we did so with a certain amount of apprehension. We weren’t concerned for our safety, just whether or not we were going to be able to hold on to our previous evening’s meal, if you know what I mean.

Here comes the dawn

Here comes the dawn

DSC_5106As it turned out, sea sickness was happily not an issue. To be honest, I think we were all too excited.

I was there... but Sue's holding on tight!

I was there… but Sue’s holding on tight!

That said, conditions were pretty unsettled for the time of year. I took a mental note of the wind and sea conditions at the time, but failed to write them down (schoolboy error!).

Definitely a bit choppy

Definitely a bit choppy

DSC_5093Perhaps the video below will give you a better idea:

We approached the Horn from the ‘relative’ calm of the Atlantic Ocean. The plan was to sail around the southern tip of Islas Hornos into the Pacific, before turning around and heading back east towards the Falkland Islands.

The clouds are clearing a little

The clouds are clearing a little

DSC_5102

Cape Horn Lighthouse

Cape Horn Lighthouse

As it turned out, the captain decided conditions were severe enough that he didn’t want to risk taking us out of the shelter of the lee side of the island. Apparently things get much rough very quickly on the Pacific, windward side.

Sunrise over Isla Deceit (Deceit Island - now there's a forbidding name!)

Sunrise over Isla Deceit (Deceit Island – now there’s a forbidding name!)

DSC_5112

DSC_5120

Wind whipping up spray between Isla Hornos and Isla Deceit

Wind whipping up spray between Isla Hornos and Isla Deceit

Which means we didn’t get to actually ‘Round the Horn’, as they say.

DSC_5131DSC_5121Not that I really cared too much. After all, we did get within a couple of miles of Cape Horn, which is an experience I’ll always remember!

Did I mention the wind?

Did I mention the wind?

That's a bit better

That’s a bit better

Steady, there!

Steady, there!

This post was inspired by this week’s photo challenges Landscape from Cheri of The Daily Post, and Forbidding from Paula of Lost in Translation.

Goodbye to Cape Horn... for this time

Goodbye to Cape Horn… for this time

One last glimpse of Cape Horn through the clouds

One last glimpse of Cape Horn through the clouds

If you’re the sort of person that loves experiencing the wonders of nature on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

The Great Migration (cover)And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

 

 

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Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem

You don’t have to be a religious person to be moved by Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows. The route through the alleyways of Old Jerusalem is said to mark the path taken by Jesus Christ from where he was tried and collected his cross, to the spot on Calvary hill where he was executed and buried.

The Lion Gate, near the start of Via Dolorosa

The Lion Gate, near the start of Via Dolorosa

From what I’ve read, today’s Via Dolorosa is more symbolic than factual. The ‘official’ route through the Old City has varied significantly over the last 2000 years. As such, the physical locations of many of the individual Stations of the Cross along the current way have no historical connection to the events they represent. In fact, historians say that at least some of the events took place in a completely different part of the city.

But that hardly seems the point at this stage. Each year thousands of people walk the Via Dolorosa, believers and non-believers alike.

The Monastery of the Flagellation: Stations 1 & 2, representing where Jesus was tried, given his cross and presented to the crowd by Pontius Pilate (historians now believe Christ was actually tried in Herod's Palace on the opposite side of the Old City)

The Monastery of the Flagellation: Stations 1 & 2, representing where Jesus was tried, given his cross and presented to the crowd by Pontius Pilate (historians now believe Christ was actually tried in Herod’s Palace on the opposite side of the Old City)

All that is still visible of the triple-arched Ecce Homo Arch, where Pilate said "Behold the Man" (Station 2)

All that is still visible of the triple-arched Ecce Homo Arch, where Pilate said “Behold the Man” (Station 2)

Station 3, representing where Jesus fell for the first time

Station 3, representing where Jesus fell for the first time

The upper storeys of some of the buildings between Stations 3 & 4

The upper storeys of some of the buildings between Stations 3 & 4

Station 4 represents where Jesus met his mother, Mary: Note the carvings depicting the events of Stations 3 (left) and 4 (above the doorway on the right)

Station 4 represents where Jesus met his mother, Mary:
Note the carvings depicting the events of Stations 3 (left) and 4 (above the doorway on the right)

Station 5, where Simon of Cyrene helped carry Jesus's cross

Station 5, where Simon of Cyrene helped carry Jesus’s cross

Station 6, where Veronica wiped away Jesus's blood and sweat

Station 6, where Veronica wiped away Jesus’s blood and sweat

Part of Via Dolorosa, between Stations 6 & 7

Part of Via Dolorosa, between Stations 6 & 7

Today Via Dolorosa remains a 'working' street, with shops both humble...

Today Via Dolorosa remains a ‘working’ street, with shops both humble…

...And extravagant

…And extravagant

Station 7, where Jesus fell for a second time

Station 7, where Jesus fell for a second time

The arches of Suq Aftimos along Via Dolorosa

The arches of Suq Aftimos along Via Dolorosa

Courtyard and main entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Courtyard and main entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Stations 10 - 14 are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Stations 10 – 14 are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Roman Catholic altar on the Rock of Golgotha (Calvary), inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, marks Stations 10 (where Jesus was stripped) and 11 (where he was nailed to the cross)

The Roman Catholic altar on the Rock of Golgotha (Calvary), inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, marks Stations 10 (where Jesus was stripped) and 11 (where he was nailed to the cross)

The Rock of Golgotha's Greek Orthodox altar stands above Station 12, believed to be the spot where Jesus was crucified (the people kneeling beneath the altar are touching the rock itself)

The Rock of Golgotha’s Greek Orthodox altar stands above Station 12, believed to be the spot where Jesus was crucified (the people kneeling beneath the altar are touching the rock itself)

Station 13, where Jesus's body is said to have been anointed before burial (the stone in this photo dates from the 18th Century)

Station 13, where Jesus’s body is said to have been anointed before burial (the stone in this photo dates from the 18th Century)

Station 14, Jesus's Tomb: originally a simple cave, the hillside was removed in the 4th Century, so the first church could be built around the tomb

Station 14, Jesus’s Tomb: originally a simple cave, the hillside was removed in the 4th Century, so the first church could be built around the tomb

This post was inspired by the photo themes of  Alleys from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Signs from Nancy of Nancy Merrill Photography and Jo’s Monday Walk.

If you’re the sort of person that loves delving into history on your travels, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first Jaspa’s Journey adventure, The Great Migration, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon and other online booksellers! The first two sequels are scheduled to be released by Speaking Volumes later this year.

Jaspa’s Journey: Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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