Hope you’re having a nice weekend. Mine has been very nice and relaxing so far, I had a lovely evening of ‘cherish time’ with Tel Aviv last night, who, knowing I frequently check the keywords driving traffic to my blog, has taken to manipulating my search terms to proffer invitations to meet, such as this one from Thursday…
"tel aviv would like to meet you on friday fishwithoutbicycle".
Cute Tel Aviv, very cute. Very inventive :-)
Then, this afternoon, I met Jacqui for a leisurely brunch at Public restaurant on
Surprisingly for this trip I haven’t been anything close to my typically uber-organised pre-vacation self. Usually I’m the one that’s read all the guide books, sorted the hotels, made a list of the clothes I need to take, washed and ironed everything and laid them out ready for packing into my suitcase a whole week before I go - hey, don’t mock the afflicted, I can’t help myself, I was a Girl Guide - however, not this time around. This time Melissa and I have both been so busy with work we decided the only way not to explode in a ball of stress was to take a more casual approach and not try and organise everything before we go, so other than having somewhere to stay for the first few days in Santiago we planned to book everything once we got to Chile.
Anyone who knows me will be shocked to hear this – in fact that thunk you just heard is my friend Miles fainting to the floor – since I’m such a planner at heart and if there’s one thing I like to have sorted on a trip to foreign parts, it’s where I’m going to be resting my head of an evening. I’m just not someone willing to take the risk of booking hotels on arrival, since it would be my luck to discover the world’s biggest conference is in town and the only rooms available are in some dilapidated, bug infested hotel in the dodgiest neighbourhood. Call me high maintenance if you will, but I like to stay in a centrally located, roach-free room with a working hair dryer. However this time I just didn’t have time to worry about it, so I allowed the vacation to creep closer and tried not to pay it too much mind; that is until a phone call with my client contact, Patricia, this past Tuesday.
I’ve worked with Patricia sporadically for about 3 or 4 years. She’s a very nice woman, but very focused on the job, she’s not a client who goes in for much personal chit chat, but gets straight down to business. Even though I’ve known her for a while and love working with her I don’t know an awful lot about her on a personal level, so it came as a fortuitous surprise on Tuesday to discover that she’s from Chile, and on finding out that I’m heading to her home country on vacation in a few days, got very excited and started giving me recommendations of places to visit in Santiago and Patagonia, with the warning "whatever you do don't go to Patagonia without booking hotels, or any tours you want to do of the national parks in advance. If you don’t have it booked when you arrive there, they'll see you as desperate tourists and rip you off. It will cost you a fortune"
Hmmmmm!! Time to start doing a bit more research, and as my conversation with Patricia progressed I realised that organising accommodation wasn’t the only way in which I was unprepared…
PATRICIA: Are you planning to go to Torres Del Paine?
ME: Yes, we're thinking of hiring a car and driving up to Puerto Natales and using the town as a base for exploring.
PATRICIA: You should organise your car hire when you’re in
ME: Um….warm outdoor clothing. Isn’t it spring in
PATRICIA: Yes, but you’ll need outdoor clothing, ideally waterproofs since even in spring there’s a chance of snow. It can snow there even in summer.
ME: It can snow in summer?
PATRICIA: Yes, occasionally. Make sure you take lots of layers as it can feel really cold in Torres Del Paine whatever time of year you’re there, because the winds blow in from
WHAT!!!! It’s so windy the trees grow SIDEWAYS!!!!
Gulp. Suddenly I wasn't looking forward to my inevitably turbulent flight down to
Patricia went on to ask if I had a good pair of hiking boots. Hiking boots!! Clearly the woman doesn’t know me at all. I don't do hiking boots. Cute, trendy leisure shoes for walking around
However Patricia spooked me sufficiently that when we’d finished chatting I immediately went to Zappos.com to order
As of Thursday I’m the proud owner of a cosy black jacket, a snugly pair of black fleecy Patagonia brand pants to keep me warm against the Antarctic winds - $75 for fleecey trousers, can you believe that? They’d better bloody launder themselves for that price – and a pair of black Italian hiking boots - yes, even my hiking boots have to be Italian, I can’t help it, I don’t believe in skimping on shoes. They’ve been taking the piss out of me big time at work for ordering everything in black, claiming that even in the wilds of Patagonia I’ll still be dressed like a New Yorker. Pht, so what!! Just because there’ll only be a few pigeons to see me doesn’t mean I can’t be a little stylish now does it? No!! Besides, if I buy everything in black I’ll be able to wear it when it snows in
I also heeded Patricia’s warning and made inquiries into hotels and tours, in fact the whole week has been one big internet shopping and vacation booking frenzy, with some work thrown in for good measure. I've got the trip to the Penguin sanctuary sorted, all the hotels – nice looking ones too with hairdryers. We're just waiting on confirmation of a 2 day tour of Torres Del Paine and Bernard O'Higgins - very Chilean sounding is ol’ Bernie O'Higgins eh? - National Parks and we’ll be all set!!And now that I'm more organised, I can’t wait!! :-)