Art, adventure, and nature—if you ask Go Ahead traveler Mary what makes a great tour, these would most certainly be in the mix. And if you ask her daughter Shelley? Good food and wine! Here’s the mother-daughter duo’s story of finding it all on their most recent tour, Chile & Argentina: Patagonia to Buenos Aires.
Embarking on a safari in Kenya, snorkeling in Mexico—Mary and her daughter Shelley have experienced incredible things on journeys around the world, but they’re always planning their next trip. So, when they had the opportunity to join Go Ahead’s tour of Chile and Argentina, they jumped at the chance. “I like adventure, so to be one of the first travelers to go on that tour was exciting,” Mary said. “It’s fun to be first. It’s like being an explorer!”
Whether or not they’re blazing a trail on a new trip, Mary and Shelley think guided travel is the way to go. “I enjoy leaving the planning to someone else,” Shelley said. “We put a lot of stock into the Go Ahead itineraries. The experts know what we should see and we respect that.” Mary agreed. “I like to travel with Go Ahead because you don’t have to worry about wasting time,” she said. “It’s so nice to have everything done for you, and we take advantage of all the excursions that are offered because we love to make use of every moment.”
True to form, the mother-daughter pair added all the tour’s excursions, returning with rave reviews about each. “The excursions Go Ahead offers are a little off the beaten track, and you have an opportunity to see more local areas,” Mary said. One that stuck out in particular was the Valparaíso & Chilean Wine Country excursion. “I’m a retired art teacher and I’ve found that sometimes the most exciting art is not in a museum—it’s local art,” she shared. “I loved Valparaíso’s painted streets, especially the paintings of underwater scenes. There were mermaids, all kinds of fish, and beautiful colors. I was really blown away.”
Shelley was also inspired by the city’s breathtaking street art—”I loved how creative the locals are!” she said—but it was the cuisine that really stood out for her and her husband Ken. “If there is wine or food, Ken and I will find it, and part of the reason we chose this excursion was definitely to experience the cuisine of the region,” Shelley explained. “We used free time to search for empanadas before visiting a beautiful vineyard and winery. We enjoyed the wine very much and even bought two bottles to bring home.”
While the traditional Chilean cuisine and colorful street paintings captured Shelley and Mary’s imaginations, the artful beauty of Chile shone through in more unexpected places as well. “My passions are art and nature,” Mary said. “Those are two different things but in a way, if you see nature, you see a lot of art. Nature carves out these beautiful places where there are no tools and no paint.”
One way Mary saw striking natural beauty reminiscent of art? Simply by looking up. “I’ve never seen such blue sky; it was absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “It looked like a painting. And of course, the sky is reflected in the water so you get a double whammy. It was like being in another world. I thought ‘How could anything be that beautiful?’”
As Mary and Shelley’s shared journey through Chile continued, their understanding of the country deepened. “I didn’t expect to go from the beach to the rolling plains of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, where there was nothing but wildlife,” Mary said. “And then the glaciers… oh my. We did a cruise under the glaciers and you could hear as huge chunks of ice cracked and fell. I had never seen a glacier, so I thought it was amazing.” Shelley agreed that discovering Patagonia’s glaciers was a memorable—and moving—moment. “Seeing the beautiful glacier lake for the first time literally brought tears to my eyes,” she recalled.
Seeing the world puts things into perspective for Mary and Shelley, and they’re already looking forward to her next adventure. “When you travel you realize how small you are in such a big world,” Mary said. “It’s just wonderful, and it’s great to have Go Ahead because they offer so many tours, and there’s something for everyone on each trip.”
Have you ever visited Chile? Tell us what wowed you the most in the comments below!