Saturday, October 31, 2009

Con Gas, Sin Gas

Ordering water has become an task in itself. Con and Sin is with or without, which translates to water with carbonation or without. Knowing Spanish would be a great help in this city since 99 percent do not speak English, but oh well I can get by.

Today was interesting, we witnessed a man chase down some guy who stole a necklace from a women, long story short the women was given the necklace back after the bum dropped the necklace on the street. This all happened near the place we visited this morning which I cannot remember the name, basically it was a tram ride up a mountain which is dedicated to St. Christopher. All in all it had some awesome views.

After going up to view St. Christopher we made our way to a market and did some shopping, I ended up picking up a few things to bring back to the States.

Tomorrow will be a lond day of travel. The taxi is meeting me at my hotel around 3:30am to catch a 6am flight to Punta Arenas and then meet my guide who will take me three hours north to Puerto Natales which is in the Patagonia region. It will be a long day.

I also switched hotels today, I had a free night at the Crowne Plaza which was sweet but not affordable if paying for it on your own. I moved to the Hotel Vegas with is about $50 per night and looks similar to a 1920´s New York pool hall. The room is small but the staff is excellent. I am planning on staying here again when I fly back to Santiago.

Thus far Santiago is one of my favorites cities I have visited in the world, the people are fantastic, the city is clean and the views are gorgeous.

I am off to get some sleep before the early morning wake up call. Goodnight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 1

From what I have discovered Chile is an excellent country. The people are very friendly if you speak Spanish. That is not my case, I speak very little Spanish. It is kind of interesting that a foreign country does not really care about the English language. Luckily my buddy Matt is semi fluent.

The first day has been awesome, we sat in a restuarant and drank a pitcher of Sangria which is wine and fruit. Plus I rolled the dice with the menu which was in Spanish and ended up ordering steak and eggs. Good call on my part.

The other highligt was viewing Jupiter and the four stars that surronded it as well as viewing moon were NASA crashed the satelite into the surface. I had the opportunity to view this at the Plaza de Armas which is the center of the city.....pretty sweet for four dollars.

Not much else happened today other than I think Faith No More´s crew is staying at my hotel.

I tried to post some pictures today but I had not luck, hopefully soon.

Riff-Raff Follows Me

I departed Raleigh around 5:15 pm and made it to Santiago at 7am on Oct. 29. The flight was smooth and immigration was not bad other that forking over $131.00 for my Visa. The only complaint was the plane, I was on a 767, two seats on each side and 4 in the center aisle. There was no monitor to watch movies in the head rest so I was stuck watching a tube style TV. Not much happened other than eating a sleeping for a couple of hours. The big bonus was Leinenkugels Summer Wheat which helped me get some sleep.

I landed around sunrise this morning and the sky was clear so I could see the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. After landing I got at taxi and went to drop my bags off at the hotel and made my was to the Plaza de Armas which is the center of the city.

My friend Matt and I went to check out his Hostel which was nice and went looking for breakfast. We ended up eating at a sidewalk cafe and watch a protest begin to unfold infront of us. We talked to a couple locals and they explained the college professors we basically on strike because the government promised them additional pay and did not deliver on their promise....go figure.

I ended up breaking the number one rule that I have read in all travel guides, they say to stay away because the protests can turn violent, obvious common sense. Needless to say I will post a couple of pictures standing in the protest. This is a similar experience to Thailand however the Thai people were trying to over throw the government and I did not see one demonstration.

That is the brief synopsis of the day thus far. It is now 1:20pm and we are off to see some other attractions. We have heard that the Argentinaian President is in town today so we might try to check that out and maybe some vinyard tours tomorrow.

Also I appoligize in advance for any grammar errors this computer I am on spell checks in Spanish.

I am off.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

T Minus Two

The trip is just within reach, only two days until my departure.

So far everything with work has been smooth unlike last year. All hell broke loose the week of my trip, I never thought I was going to finish up everything but some how managed. I have managed to stay ahead of the game this year, it might be because I am now a year wiser.

Thus far I believe I have everything ready, although I was at the store last night and it seems that there is something I need to pickup but cannot think of what it could be. I am sure that whatever it is I will remember tomorrow night and have to run to the store. The only task left to accomplish is laundry and packing. For some reason it has always been in my nature to wait until the last minute to pack. There was a brief period of time that waiting until the last minute back-fired on me and I ended up forgetting my boxers on two business trips and ended up making a run to Target.

I have been watching the weather and Santiago looks like sunny and 78 as an average. However, Patagonia's forecast is not looking as good, 58 degrees for the high and 30-40% chance of rain everyday. Luckily when I was picking up some items for the trip at REI a rain suit was on my list. I actually sat there and contemplated not getting one but in hindsight it was the correct decision, well that and my rain cover for my backpack.

My planning is about complete the only thing left to figure out is where I will be staying in Santiago on Oct. 31. I have booked my first night at the Crowne Plaza which is free thanks to a summer promotion IC Hotels Group ran, stay two get one free. I may stay one additional night but the normal rate is $160. If I decided against staying an additional night I have a couple places scouted out.

I am going to retire for the night because I have a feeling tomorrow will be busy and I do not want to spend all day scrambling on Thursday so I am going to try to get to work a little earlier.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Coming Full Circle

It has been almost one year since my last real vacation. I say a real vacation because I do not really consider trips where you can be reached by cell phone a vacation, even though one can just turn it off and disconnect from the real world.

I discovered last year that the only way to travel is to get out of the country, hence my 16 day excursion to Bangkok. It was a very memorable experience, some highlights were the princesses procession, Thai Boxing and getting caught up in social unrest. Plus the biggest advantage is you have to turn the cell phone off because it is too expensive to answer.

The destination this year will be Chile and Argentina. The cities I will be visiting are Santiago, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and El Calafate (Argentina). Here is a rough itinerary:
Santiago Oct. 30-Nov. 1
Nov. 1 - Depart Santiago 6am arrive Punta Arenas, three hour bus ride to Puerto Natales, four nights at Hotel Florence Dixie
Nov. 2 - Perito Moreno Glacier, five hour bus ride to El Calafate
Nov. 3 - Paine Towers National Park
Nov. 4 - Sailing excursion by Last Hope Fiord to Serrano Balmaceda Glacier
Nov. 5 - Transfer back to Punta Arenas and afternoon penguin colony excursion, one night at Carpa Manzano
Nov. 6 - Wander around Punta Arenas
Nov. 7 - 1:40am flight back to Santiago...yes that's a.m., I read the military time wrong when booking the flight
Nov. 8 - 10:20pm departure to Atlanta, arrive in Raleigh 10am Nov. 9

Well this is the rough plan and I cannot wait. Enjoy the ride.