Friday, December 9, 2011

Goodbye Chile

All week I've been saying goodbye to people here in Chile. Having lived and worked here for nearly two and a half months, I've met a lot of amazing people and have some good friends here now. A part of me is really sad to leave, but I hope my work will bring me back some day (hopefully a shorter trip next time though!).

Yesterday, my friends and I went to a pool party and barbecue at our friends' house outside of the city. It was so awesme to be swimming and grilling hamburgers outside in December. It was a perfect last day in Chile.

Now I've checked out of my hotel, and my cab comes to pick me up at 7PM tonight to go to the airport. Hopefully I'll sleep well on the flight so I'll be ready to jump right back into my routine in Greenville when I get back. I can't wait to see everyone! Lots of fun times ahead with my graduation, Christmas, starting on a new project in Greenville, and lots more.

I will probably post on the blog at least one more time, but I will go ahead and thank you all for following my travels in Chile! What an adventure!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day in the Life of Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, also known as Tony in the Taylor household, is one of our travel heroes. I think I’ve mentioned him on the blog before. If you don’t know who he is, you need to watch one of his shows and you will be hooked. His show is called No Reservations, and he travels the world seeing places, learning about different cultures, and eating crazy food. Before you judge him on his horrendous smoking and drinking habits, try to appreciate the fact that he is a French-trained chef and speaks fluent French. He is an amazingly creative writer, and you can get a taste of his talents in the narrations of his show which he writes himself. He has also authored a few books, but I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them yet (thanks to grad school).
Tony came to Chile a few years ago, and on Friday my friend Lindsay and I watched the No Reservations Chile episode. On Saturday, we walked Tony’s Santiago footsteps. It was three Americans, two Chileans, two Puerto Ricans, and a whole day of seeing the “real” Santiago.

Our day started at Fuente Alemana (German Fountain), a sandwich shop near downtown. It reminded me of an old-time soda shop. This was Tony’s first stop in Santiago, and the place is known for their lomitos, or pork sandwiches. We all ordered our sandwiches “completo” with all the fixings: avocado, mayo, diced tomatoes, and probably plenty more that I am not aware of.

Left to right: Lindsay, Ethel, Lina, me, Eric, Trinidad

Me with my lomito...I conquered almost half of this enormous sandwich

Our second stop of the day was a deviation from Tony’s agenda, and it was also the most disgusting “restaurant” I have ever been to. It was called La Piojera. It smelled terrible, was filled with smoke, and let’s just say the clientele was not too classy. We went for the purpose of trying a Terremoto (earthquake), which is a famous Chilean drink consisting of pineapple ice cream and sweet wine. You need to try one if you come to Chile, but you don’t necessarily need to finish it. I’d rather have a coke (or better yet, sweet tea). We bought a Polaroid picture of our group at the restaurant (if you can even call it a restaurant), and here is a picture of that picture:

The famous terremoto...the white on top is the ice cream

Next, we went to El Hoyo, or “the hole” in Spanish. The restaurant got its name because it is basically a hole-in-the-wall dining establishment. This was Tony’s favorite restaurant in Santiago, and in my Frommer’s Chile book it is listed as Anthony Bourdain’s favorite. It is no surprise that Tony liked the place so much since they serve intestines, sausage, cow hoof soup, and plenty of other delightful delicacies (gross). Our group stuck with French fries, but at least now we can say we went to Tony’s favorite Santiago restaurant, right?Our group in front of the restaurant

We finished our day at a restaurant in Patio Bellavista. It was a nice day, and all-in-all, I think Tony would be proud.


Friday, December 2, 2011


On Saturday night, Fluor Chile held its annual Christmas party. This was the same night that Zack had to go home to Greenville. I was so sad for him to leave, but it was nice to have something fun to do after he left. The party was humongous. And it wasn’t just a party…it was an experience.

The fiesta started at 8:30, and they literally rolled out red carpets for the guests to walk in on. The party began with an outdoor cocktail hour with fancy appetizers and cocktails, as well as a DJ. They moved us all inside around 10 PM, and as soon as I walked inside I felt like I was at the Oscars. It was amazing.

The 4-course dinner was served around 10:45 PM (thankfully I had eaten my first dinner earlier with Zack), and after dinner the party really got started. There was tons of entertainment, prizes, music, and karaoke. I left the party at 3:30 AM, but the party didn't stop until close to 5 AM. Crazy!

Here are some pictures from the evening:
In the hotel lobby before Zack left

With my friend Lindsay from Texas

After you walked the red carpet, you walked through the crazy fog machine thing

Humongous and beautifully decorated

I'm going to miss my co-workers when I leave: Carolina, Maria Angelica, and Daniela

I didn't win the trip to Buenos Aires, but six other lucky people did...the party was hosted by famous Chilean TV personalities (you can see them on the stage, but I was really far away)

Maria Angelica and Daniela

Carolina and her husband Patricio

The first band of the evening played Latin music...the dance floor was full all night

If you haven't already figured this out, Chileans really love a good party!

Tomorrow is my last Saturday in Chile! I can't believe I will be en route to Greenville in only one week! They've started to decorate for Christmas at my hotel, and that has really made me ready to go home because I'm eager to get my own house decorated for Christmas! (Not to mention that it's odd seeing Christmas trees and lights when it's 85 degrees outside.)


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar with Zack!

I'm forcing myself to catch up on this blog, which means nightly blogging. Have I mentioned that in addition to being a semi-professional blogger and travel guru (just kidding) I am also in grad school and working 45+ hours per week? I'm tired! But alas, for the sake of my faithful readers, I am here updating you on my life in Chile...enjoy!

On Friday, Zack and I took a day trip to the coast. It is really cheap and easy to travel by bus in South America, and buses run to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar every 15 minutes from Santiago. We originally intended to explore Valpo and Viña on our own for the day, but when we arrived at the bus station we decided to take a tour. It ended up being a much easier way to see the highlights of both coastal towns, and as a bonus the tour took us to Reñaca (a beach town) for lunch. The weather was gorgeous - around 80 degrees and sunny - and we had a great time. Here is a pictorial account of our day:
One of three moai statues outside of Easter Island is in Viña (there is another one in Chile and one in London)

This house belonged to the founder of Viñ was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake and is still condemned

At a can't tell by the picture, but at this point I was starving for lunch and slightly annoyed by some of our fellow tourists

At the beach in Reñaca

We ate lunch at a restaurant right on the beach

You can't really tell in the pictures, but the waves were huge

The water was FREEZING!

The water was also very blue, but the pictures don't really do it justice

The famous flower clock in Viña

Our guide called this the sea lion hotel

See the sea lion swimming?

Pablo Neruda's house in Valparaiso...shaped like a boat

The view from Pablo's place

This photo was taken by a Virginia Tech hard feelings

Riding the "elevator" in Valparaiso...there are tons of "elevators" around the city since it is so hilly. Of the 15 "elevators," only 3 still work (they're really old). I feel lucky that we survived the three minute ascent.

The views of the colorful port were definitely worth the risky elevator ride. (Just kidding, I'm pretty sure they are safe.)

I think that's it for tonight!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Adios Argentina, Hola Chile

Last Monday morning we were so sad to leave Mendoza. If we could have stayed a few more days, we would have liked to have gone hiking or rafting…there is lots of adventure tourism in Mendoza. Our friend Hannah even recommended hang gliding in Mendoza, but I don’t think we are quite that daring, haha. Argentina was much a more laid back country than Chile. The food was also a lot better, and the Spanish was easier to understand. Don’t get me wrong – Chile is great – but I would really like to go back to Argentina some day (Buenos Aires!).

Our bus was scheduled to depart from the Mendoza bus terminal on Monday at 1 PM. The process was 100 times easier than it was in Chile. We spent the last of our Argentinean pesos on snacks for the road, boarded the bus a few minutes before 1, and left almost on time (and we both had visas this time J ). The trouble came when we got to the Argentina-Chile border. The line of cars was backed up for miles, and it ended up taking over 4 hours to get through customs. It was brutal. I had to keep reminding myself while we were waiting that at $25 USD each way the bus tickets were a lot more affordable than plane tickets. The views along the way were really nice, but 10.5 hours on a bus is a loooooong time.

Here are a few pictures that we took on our last day in Mendoza and on the way back to Chile. I'll try to narrate with captions as well as I can! Enjoy!
View of Mendoza from the top floor of the hotel

The Park Hyatt Mendoza - amazing hotel

Packed up and so sad to leave

There are little canals throughout Mendoza - see the right side of the picture above. They built this system to keep the plants watered. It paid off...the trees lining the streets are really nice.Canal and tree-lined street near the hotel

That's right...ketchup-flavored potato chips (didn't try them)

At the Mendoza bus station, loaded up with snacks and ready to board the bus

There were awesome views of the Andes Mountains on the trip back to Chile

This lake was just outside of Mendoza. It is a snow-melt lake, and the minerals in the water give it the gorgeous color. The pictures don't do justice to the color.

The line of vehicles at the Chile-Argentina border

We got off the bus after a few hours to stretch and take some pictures...still smiling because we didn't realize that we wouldn't be crossing the border until after dark

That's it! Zack, please take me back to Argentina some day!