Loving Buenos Aires

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I’ve been having the most amazing time in Buenos Aires and wish I could stay for another month! I’ve had such wonderful adventures from tango classes on Valentine’s Day, to playing Polo and even making my own empanadas.

Since my time here is limited the days have been jammed packed with activities that when I arrive back to the hotel I can barely keep my eyes open, but I love it! Traveler/wanderlust exhaustion is the best. Don’t worry I’ll be sharing more of my adventures here in Buenos Aires shortly.

To get more frequent visual updates of my travels and see what I’ve been up to in BsAs be sure to follow me on Instagram.

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See you soon, Santiago

I find it hard to believe that I am at the end of my 2 month stay in Chile. I’ll be back for a hot minute in March before I leave for Europe but in my mind this marks the end of ‘living’ in Chile.

I’ll be posting reflections so don’t fret much more to come on my time south of the equator. In the interim here is compilation that showcases my experiences in South America to date.

With that, I bid Santiago farewell for now and head across the Andes (this time by air) to Buenos Aires.

From Bellavista to Bellas Artes

Today marked my last day in the apartment I’ve been in for the past 2 months is Santiago. I didn’t think I would be attached but surprisingly I felt a little twinge of sadness. The Bellavista apartment is where Irish and I started this journey, it is where we have had wonderful balcony happy hours with views of Cerro San Cristobal and the statue of the Virgen, where we had a relaxing and warm Christmas and where we rang in 2014. Over the course of 8 weeks it started to somewhat feel like home. Here is a shot of our last balcony happy hour.

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As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

We haven’t moved too far, we are just a 15 minute walk away and in the area of Bellas Artes/Lastarria. On the positive side we get new views of the city and my favorite wine bar is just around the corner so I’ll think I’ll survive.

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Anyways there isn’t too much time to get comfy, this is only a pit stop before heading off to Buenos Aires and then Peru later this week. The travel chronicles continue!

In case you were wondering about the wine featured in our last happy hour, it was Santa Ema Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon and it was delicious! Santa Ema is my original favorite chilean wine, I fell in love with it while studying aboard here years ago. The wines are punchy yet smooth and have deep wood flavors. They really are a treat particularly the reserve varietals. I highly recommend, so if you see it in your local wine store be sure to pick up a bottle and transport yourself to sunny Chile.

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Bus Adventures Down South: Part Two

Departing from Pichilemu we headed further south to Pucón, which is famous for the Villarica volcano. To be exact we traveled 707 km further south, so that equates for a very long bus ride!

Upon arriving late at night in Pucón after our 12+ hour bus ride we immediately went to the adventure store to get fitted for our gear to climb the volcano.

The next morning it was a very early to start our ascent of the volcano. As we arrived to the store to start putting on our gear it was quite apparent what a novice I was. The people around me were deftly tying up their boots (while I struggled and gave myself blisters trying to lace them up), putting on the protective thingys (I still don’t know the corrects words), and they all seemed to step out of a North Face catalogue. Gulp…

We were piled onto the buses to get to basecamp, as we winded our way up the initial part of the volcano it was breathtaking- we were climbing above the clouds. However as we ascended further the clouds turned a more aggressive shade of grey and the winds starting picking up. The guides were like this is fine, don’t worry we can climb in this weather. As we were getting our pick axes strapped to our bags the tune changed pretty drastically.
In the span of about 4 minutes they were now saying how the weather was too fickle and they couldn’t guarantee reaching the top of the volcano. A few of those ‘knowledgeable’ couples bowed out so for me that was reason enough. So thwarted again by the weather- I tried to climb this volcano 10 years ago and had the same experience. I guess I’ll have to come back in another 10 years to finally climb this thing!

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Although a bit dejected, the day wasn’t a total bust, we retuned to Pucón and booked another adventure. In this case we decided to go zip lining, or canopying as they call it here. Of course the day couldn’t be completely free of issues- 20 mins after our pickup time for the new adventure we got a call that zip lining for that timeframe was now canceled but we could join the group going out in a few hours. Really?? Already 20 minutes into the tour and then you call and no sorry for the inconvenience. I wish I could say this happens rarely here but sadly this is pretty frequent in Chile, from what I have experienced. Positive side is at least this country has increased my traditional boiling point threshold and I’ll be a saint when back in the States because service will feel like being treated like the Duchess of Cambridge.

Frustrations aside, our afternoon of zip lining was great fun. Plus the frustrations made for great jokes throughout the day.

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What’s In My Copa de Vino

It’s been awhile since my last wine review but don’t take that as a sign that I haven’t been sampling while down here. It has been quite the opposite. I’ve just been negligent in updating.

While I’ve sampled quite a few different wines down here I keep going back to Emiliana. I would say the red wines from this vineyard have been my favorite on this trip. The really interesting part about Emiliana is it an organic vineyard. I actually visited this vineyard back in December and was really impressed with the wine tour. Wine tours tend to be somewhat similar and let’s be honest most of us go on them for the tasting at the end. Emiliana was different, the tour was actually pretty fascinating given I had no knowledge of the organic wine making process.

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I can’t remember all the intricacies but the elements that stuck out where: they use 3 different kind if chickens to help with pest control and reason for 3 different kinds is based on their eating patterns. They use llamas for fertilizer because their hooves actually help aerate the grass and they leave their droppings in one large pile so it is easier to pick-up and distribute (sorry for that visual), beyond that herbs such as chamomile are used to help with mineral digestion for the vines and then there is quite a complex process around the sun and the moon and how the monthly cycles of the moon impact the soil and vine growth. Kinda sounds like some hippie stuff but let me tell you it does make for some really great wine!

The Coyam, is really delicious and I believe has received 92 points by Robert Parker. Definitely try this one!

The next two lines from Emiliana I recommend are the Novas and the Adobe, both provide excellent wine. I actually had the Adobe reserve last night and loved it!

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The best part of this wine is you feel like you are experiencing the true taste of wine. Wine without pesticides and that takes on the flavors of the earth in the particular year it is harvested. I know, I’m going a bit hippie but hey it’s good wine!

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Bus Adventures Down South: Part One

I’m back after a week of traveling on a bus throughout the south of Chile. What adventures we had- from having our hostel bed stolen, hidden showers behind walls, no hot water in some hostels, drinking until 6 am with Chileans and almost missing our 9 am departure, not hiking Villarica volcano, constant rain, rude French adventure guides and much more. But, it was a blast!

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The best part of the adventure most certainly had to be the people we met. Overall, I would say that is my favorite part about traveling. I just love the interesting people you encounter along the way, hearing their stories and the best part, the friendships you form as a result (and the new destinations to add to your travel itinerary so you can meet up with them).

Our Pachamama travel crew was no exception, great people with equally interesting travel stories: An American living in China for the past 6 years and on holiday in Chile, the Wifi loving German girls on a world adventure that has included traveling in a van for over 3 months in Australia, an Englishman on a year long travel adventure and about to head on a converted school bus that takes you throughout Central America for 8 weeks. To tie it all up, our fearless leader/tour guide that couldn’t quite go a day without getting something wrong but hey it provided for some great laughs!

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Our first day of travel brought us to the beach town of Pichilemu. As it a beach town we dropped our bags and hit the sand to dip our toes in the Pacific.

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It wasn’t quite the idlic beach stroll I was hoping for. The beautiful black sand beach we were told about was actually just a torture device. The sand was molten! I mean like singe your feet and curse like a sailor kind of hot. To make matters worse it is a good 300+ meters to the water. That idlic stroll quickly turned into me cursing my way to the water, not even my sandals helped mitigate the heat of the sand. Of course Irish couldn’t help but laugh at this while comfortably in his sneakers.

In the afternoon we traveled to Punta de Lobos, a rocky peninsula area, where we watched the sunset, which was pretty impressive. I’ve certainly enjoyed those stunning sunsets from resort balconies but it can’t beat this one on the cliffs in Chile. We climbed down the cliffs to get as far out to sea as the rocks would allow and had a little wine party as the sun set and the waves crashed aggressively into the rocks. Quite the sunset!

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On the Road Again

Well amigos I’m off to the south of Chile for the next 10 days and with high hopes of seeing a penguin.

I’m going nomad, leaving the apartment in Santiago, strapping on the backpack and boarding a bus that will take me to multiple destinations in the Lake District of Chile. I can’t wait to be awed by some nature, go on hikes, climb some mountains…I think I’m going a bit hippie on this trip.

Speaking of hippie, this adventure is hostels and camping only so my updates may be less frequent. I’m sure I’ll have lots of stories and photos once back in the city.

So friends stay warm up there on the other side of the equator- I’ll do the heavy lifting of enjoying all that sun and warmth down here.

A very special shout out goes to my dear friend getting married this weekend! I’m bursting with how happy I am for you and Spiro. Irish and I so wish we could be there on your special day! Alas we can’t, but we will certainly be there in spirit. Enjoy every moment!

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Slowly I’m adapting to South America hours, such as dinner at 9 pm and night life starting no earlier than 12:30 am. This weekend I finally hit my gold star moment of staying out past 4 am!

I’m a bit of a granny, as my sister and Irish like to often tell me- bed by 11 pm, 8 hours sleep a night, avoid bars/clubs with lines and extremely loud music. But this weekend it was like stepping back in time and out came the old Moe, as in the young 20 year old study abroad me with boundless energy for all-night dancing.

Irish and I hit the streets of Bellavista in search of a establishment to put on those dancing shoes. As I am a granny, I was reluctant about the first few places we passed. I mean who wants to squish into a jammed packed room to throw ‘bows in time with the music? After a few more no’s I was lightly forced to just pick one, so settled on small place- it just seemed more manageable than those thumping ‘popular’ clubs.

As I opened the doors the wave of ‘heat’, due to the confined space and dancing bodies, hit me. Granny was not impressed and ready to turn around and leave. However as this adventure is all about challenge myself, and saying yes more than I say no, I took a few more steps into the club and was greeted with a large Brazilian flag and a live band playing samba! Given my love for all things Brazilian this was going to be good night.

Downing some liquid courage to dial down my granniness, it was time to hit the dance floor.

I was a little awkward on my feet at first as I tried the samba shuffle for the first time but by the end it was like a scene out of Dirty Dancing Havana Nights (with Brazilian flair)- twirling, shuffling and shaking it with the best of them.

For me, who has been so focused on coloring neatly between the lines the past few years it was great to scribble outside the lines and dance like no one was watching…

Before you know it I’ll be rocking out at Carnival in bedazzled granny panties

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Image: loveisspeed.blogspot.com (http://bit.ly/1fhK9Vt)

Going Gaucho

Friends, I’m building a house in the Andes, becoming a gaucho and living off steak and Malbec for the rest of my days…

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Well not exactly but after the experience I had in Mendoza, Argentina I could seriously consider changing to a wardrobe of chaps for a few months to soak up those incredible views. I thought the bus ride through the Andes was impressive…

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I was even more impressed while riding horseback in the mountains! Our day started with a two hour drive from Mendoza into the mountains to reach Quebrada del Condor, base camp. With each passing kilometer (no miles here) the views became increasingly impressive. First panoramic views of the Andes against a sky of blue. As you got closer you could make out the distinct mountains, each with unique colors of red, green, brown while competing to be higher than the next mountain. Rows of thistle bushes serve as natural barriers on the dirt roads. I would need Wordsworth to truly capture the beauty and emotion of the scenery.

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Once at camp it was time to get all city slicker and start our horseback riding journey through the Andes. Surprisingly, not all my knowledge of horse-riding as a child had been lost and I only half-awkwardly hoisted myself into the Gaucho saddle- no riding English style here.

The ride was incredible, one of those experiences where editing life down to a backpack and leaving it all behind makes sense.

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After 3 hours of riding the soreness started to settle in. The perfect remedy- an Argentina asado! Oh, the beauty of this asado- a true carnivores delight!

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The meal starts with the most delicious empanadas I’ve had to date: meaty, salty and when washed down with Malbec, just perfection.

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Next you are presented with an assortment of meat: ribs, sausages and more- a total meatgasm.

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To top off the amazingness it was on to Malbec poached pears with dulce de leche cream- amazeballs!

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After a day like this I was ready to spend the rest of my days riding and letting the plaque build up around my arteries and the sodium spike my blood pressure- but what a way to go.

Lucky for my heart I didn’t pursue my afternoon dream of a life of horses and asados but at least I have some spectacular memories to get me through those days of eating salad to counterbalance the meat consumption.