Sunday, 4 November 2007

.....And relax

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 Elizabeth St, a beautifully designed restaurant, which I love for dinner, and now a restaurant I love for brunch, especially their bellinis. Best ever!!! I highly recommend paying a visit if you’re in town. They also have a great wine bar, the Monday Room, tucked away behind an innocuous looking door behind the hostess station, which is well worth a visit. Yes, all in all it’s been a lovely and relaxing couple of days, something I was in need of after a frenetic week at work trying to get everything sorted before my upcoming trip to South America.

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 Santiago, I recommend Eco-Rent. If you wait until you arrive in Punta Arenas they’ll over charge you. I assume you have warm outdoor clothing for Patagonia?
ME: Um….warm outdoor clothing. Isn’t it spring in Patagonia right now?
: 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 Antarctica. The wind is really strong down there; the trees don’t grow upright; they grow sideways.

WHAT!!!! It’s so windy the trees grow SIDEWAYS!!!!

Gulp. Suddenly I wasn't looking forward to my inevitably turbulent flight down to Punta Arenas. Whose stupid idea was it to go to Patagonia anyway? Ahem, oh yes, it was mine!! DOH!!!!

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 New York, yes, hiking boots no. I may have grown up in the country, but I’m a city girl at heart...when it comes to footwear I’m generally about cute heels and nice handbags thank you very much. Hiking boots indeed.

However Patricia spooked me sufficiently that when we’d finished chatting I immediately went to to order Patagonia appropriate footwear. I LOVE Zappos; it’s the best web store EVER!! If you order a pair of shoes before 1pm they’ll arrive the NEXT DAY!! How great is that? Plus the shipping and returns are FREE, it’s a boon to we shoe fixated types who work long hours, which aren’t conducive to physically visiting shoe shops!!! I also discovered that they now sell outdoor clothing. Perfecto, I’d have this outdoor clothing snafu sorted in no time.

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 New York. See office piss takers, I’m thinking ahead. There’s that Girl Guide thing again.

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!! :-)


Ha Ha Sound said...

Glad you got everything sorted for your vacation. I always forget how much planning is involved in going away. Anyway, I'm sure that everything will work out and I hope you have a great time!!

And I love Public, too. Such a wonderful place to have brunch. Last time I went there was with the first girl I ever dated in NYC (we hadn't seen each other in, like, 5 years) and we went out to that odd little front area with benches, and just smoked cigarettes and talked. What made it so wonderful was that the waitress kept coming out to refill our coffee cups, even though we'd already paid our bill and left our table.

Have a great Sunday night!! =+)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hey Ha Ha, thanks for stopping by. I think the service is great at Public, I like that restaurant a lot.

Thanks for the vacation well wishes. It turned out to be a more involved trip than I anticipated, but I'm really looking forward to taking a break :-)

kitty said...

hey fish!
I'll have to come back to reread this entry. It's long!
I love Public. Great menu and gorgeous design. I will have to revisit and sneak in a camera.
That's awesome about the trip! you're pretty daring. Most people would venture to a non-cold place for vacation!

-very soon to be Zappos customer (lol)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty, glad to hear I may have converted you to the delights of Zappos :-)

I have to admit I was a bit shocked by the fact that Patagonia is going to be on the cool side, since it's spring there and Santiago is a balmy 75F right now. I'm not brave, I was just ill prepared :-) Have a great week. Fish

Amel's Realm said...

GLAD to hear everything's sorted out now. It's always good to get advice from the locals he he he he...


And speaking of a planner, you're a girl after my own heart. I'm also that kind of girl he he he...;-D

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Amel, I'm planning to take LOTS of photos, so I shall post on my trip when I get back.

kitty said...

hey fish

I know you're super busy, but I went and tagged you on a meme.
hope you don't mind.

No deadline. You can do it at anytime!

Flowers On A Friday said...

I have a picture of you against the snow of New York: A kind of domino effect.

Good planning!

modelbehavior said...

Patagonia clothing is warm but it's got NOTHING on Cloudveil. There stuff may be more expensive, but it's worth every penny.

Mark Dykeman said...

I hope you'll have a great vacation, Fish!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty, thanks for the tag. I'll try give the meme some thought when I get back, although I'll admit unpfront that I'm really crap at getting around to them.

Hi Flowers, nice to see you, hope you get your own accomodation sorted soon :-)

MB, I should have spoken to you before I shopped last week. Next time Cloudveil :-)

Mark, thanks for the good wishes.

Loquacious Curmudgeon said...

Oops! Good thing Patricia had some handy advice. I wouldn't have known that about Patagonia either.

Sounds like you're now set to have a wonderful, and stylish, trip.

I love Tel Aviv's keyword search. That's awesome.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Loquacious, who knew right? I think the proper hiking people in Patagonia might be amused by my city girl meets hiker look :-)

I was impressed by Tel Aviv's inventiveness too. He has his moments :-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Dylan said...

Ca da ddygwyl (have a good holiday, in Welsh...Patagonia has the biggest Welsh population in the world, outside Wales that is). Hope you come back with your batteries fully recharged!

PS Apologies for my bad Welsh...I haven't spoken or read it for about 23 years.

Agnes Mildew said...

Sounds like you are about to have the holiday of a lifetime, there, mate! Yes, I am a bit like you - like to know where I am going, what I am doing and whether I can say in fluent local dialect, Where are the toilets, please? Hope you have a wonderful trip!

Amel's Realm said...


fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hey Dylan, I had read that about the Welsh. Kind of bizarre, but very cool too. I heard there are even a cluster of Welsh tea-rooms in Argentine Patagonia :-)

Hi Agnes, it has turned out to be a bit of a holiday event, it didn't start out that way, but I'm soooooo looking forward to it. Thanks for the good wishes.

Hi Amel, yes, photos :-) If I can upload them while I'm there I will, if not, when I get back.

Merch y mynydd said...

I regularly visit this blog - a firm favourite of mine!

Mwynha'r gwyliau - Enjoy the holidays in Welsh - this is how we way it in my dialect!!! Gaiman is where you will get many Welsh tearooms - about half an hour from Trelew and Porth (Puerto) Madryn I think. I have friends who have been out in Patagonia giving Welsh lessons to the Patagonians, and generally the Welsh speaking Patagonians speak Welsh and Spanish, and no English!!

Hope you have a good time in Chile - I have been to Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama - both very civilised reprieves after the gruelling journey across the Bolivian Altiplano and Salars!! I have promised myself after that experience to never stay in a hotel that is less than 3*. Breeze block sheds in sub-zero temperatures is definitely not to be repeated!!!

Anyway, enjoy your holidays!!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Merch, thanks so much for your kind comments and background information on the Welsh in Patagonia. I read about the tearooms in the excellent book "Bad Times in Buenos Aires", I'm really looking forward to going down that way even though it will be a little nippy this time of year. Best, Fish

Blur Ting said...

Oh you know what? I'm just like you. I usually have my stuff sorted out weeks before I leave. At least I have an old pair of trusty hiking boots which I wear everywhere. It's gonna be a fun vacation, I know it! I would love to go there some day!!