I hear there is a polar vortex in New York right now, which is making me love aviation even more today as I am traveling through summertime in Brazil. It was only a couple months ago this jetliner took me on my first South American adventure and I’m already back for more. What an incredible thing it is to fly – changing countries, temperatures, and cultures in mere hours – not to mention glimpsing the earth from so, so high above…
The view from a plane window is an amazing way to see the world. I love flying, I love seeing our life in a new perspective, I love being someplace totally different in the blink of an eye. Time does not exist to me in the sky, it’s only when your feet touch the ground (and your airplane mode turns off) that we start keeping track again… but for a moment, when you’re up in the heavens, all is peaceful out that little window below.
You’ve been on this great Chilean adventure #onlyinsouthamerica with me and I wanted to say thank you to Lan Airlines, the premier carrier for South America, for taking us to all these places I could only have dreamed of before. The greatest end to this unforgettable journey was coming home to New York on the new Dreamliner. Total game changer! The difference in cabin pressure, theatrical mood lighting that changes throughout the flight, the LARGER WINDOWS (by 30%), the friendly flight attendants and the wonderful food made the last leg home one of peace and relaxation. I’ve never enjoyed a flight more than this… I’ll come fly with you anytime.
Views out my window:
My top three favorite fun facts about LAN Airlines!
1. A LAN flight takes off every 2.5 minutes around the world. Can you believe it??
2. The TAM business class wine list is ranked among the top 5 in the world by Global Traveler Magazine in their article, “Wines on the Wing 2013“. And speaking of wine (which I always love to talk about!), there are 522,000 bottles of wine opened on LAN airplanes each year.
3. The airline created the Call for Social and Environmental Projects, which focuses on investing in nonprofit organizations that help develop sustainable tourism and environmental conservation!
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The most beautiful view is the one looking up.
Patagonia’s skies are true works of art. With the drama of a Renaissance painting and the bizarre UFO-like nature of lenticular clouds there is never a dull moment, as if the sky was nature’s form of entertainment. It all just gives way for the spectacular light show that happens this far south leaving you with the memories of the most beautiful saturation and contrasts of colors that can only be found in Patagonia.
“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
– John Keats
Continue reading “Patagonia’s Sky”
The word “yurt” does not sound like it should be compatible with glamour…but at Patagonia Camp, I couldn’t get enough of them. The yurt combines nature and comfort in one beautiful experience – being able to stargaze on the terrace overlooking the lake while sipping a glass of wine, or hear the wind blow through the trees while staying warm and dry in a luxurious bed.
As if that weren’t enough, the owners of the Patagonia Camp are committed to staying eco-friendly – the entire complex is on platforms and wooden stilts, uses only ecological detergents, and runs two waste treatment plants that release pure water without any residue. Not only can you take in the stunning views of the Torres del Paine National Park, but you can rest easy knowing your stay has minimal impact on the lush nature around you.
What a beautiful, romantic hideaway….and it can be found #onlyinsouthamerica…
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It’s hard to describe seeing a glacier for the first time: the seemingly unnatural color, how still it appears to be when in fact it is a moving river, the god-like size that reminds you of your fragile, ephemeral life… all I can say is that I couldn’t stop staring until I had become completely enchanted. And now, thanks to our Quasar tour guide, I can say I have eaten glacier ice straight off of an iceberg.
The might of Patagonia has to lie within its waters. From the spectacular green color of Lake Pehoé to Lake Grey with its floating icebergs and then to be hit with the rapid roaring waterfalls of Salto Grande and Cascada Rio Paine, and finally down comes rain out of clouds that redefine the word drama. Water is all around you, and never in a boring fashion.
“I climbed a path and from the top looked up-stream towards Chile. I could see the river, glinting and sliding through the bone-white cliffs with strips of emerald cultivation either side. Away from the cliffs was the desert. There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.”
― Bruce Chatwin
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As you drive up to the Tierra Patagonia Hotel, your first impression is unlike any other resort experience. The hotel looms, skeletal and prehistoric looking, like a fossil slowly coming back to life half buried into the curvature of the earth. As you draw closer, however, you realize how remarkable the building is – constructed almost entirely from native lenga wood, the curves of the building allow for seamless blending from one room to the next while providing extraordinary views of Torres del Paine National Park through floor-to-ceiling windows.
What a dream to be here amid the warmth and hospitality of the hotel and yet feel as though you are a part of the glorious natural landscape occurring just outside…a dream that can be found #onlyinsouthamerica…
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We headed out for adventure. Deep into Chilean Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park we rode horses for hours with gauchos, explored caves where giants used to live, stared in awe at Cleopatra’s Needles, stopped to take in the first sights of guanaco I have only read about in Charles Darwin’s descriptions and enjoyed endless fields of baby sheep. The first thing that struck me about Patagonia was how untouched it is by man. No red lights or bill boards, no gas stations or pavement and no cell service. It is truly a completely unpolluted environment. You stand in the center of Patagonia, so far from anything familiar, so alone, hours from other humans and as far as the eye can see there is infinite beauty, purity and vast wonderment.
“What on earth makes you choose such an outlandish part of the world to go to? What can be the attraction? These, and similar questions and exclamations I heard from the lips of my friends and acquaintances, when I told them of my intended trip to Patagonia, the land of the Giants. What was the attraction in going to an outlandish place so many miles away? The answer to the question was contained in its own words. Precisely because it was an outlandish place and so far away, I chose it. Palled for the moment with civilization and its surroundings, I wanted to escape somewhere where I could be as far removed from them as possible. There I would be able to penetrate into vast wilds, virgin as yet to the foot of man. Scenes of infinite beauty and grandeur might be lying hidden in the silent solitude of the mountains that bound the barren plains of the Pampas, into whose mysterious recesses no one as yet had ever ventured.”
–Lady Florence Dixie, 1880
Continue reading “Patagonia’s Land”
I love traveling the world, seeing all the places I dreamed of as a child. All my life I have wanted to adventure down to South America, but nothing could have prepared me for the natural beauty I was to find in Chile’s Patagonia. Way down south, the furthest I have ever been in the world, lies The Singular Patagonia, a stunning piece of living history.
Recently restored as a luxury hotel, the complex had previously been a cold storage plant built in the early twentieth century. The owners, descendants of the families who built their lives in this area, recognized the importance of the structure and made the decision to keep it alive. Now the Singular boasts not only one of the most sustainable five-star hotels in Chile, but also a private collection of machines, engines, and other artifacts from the original factory.
It was so fascinating to walk the grounds and see how the hotel and factory merged together, how wood and steel shipped over from England many years ago became something brand new. Come along on our tour, see what can be found #onlyinsouthamerica…
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We had our new friends at the Alto Atacama
give us a step-by-step how-to for this light, limey, sweet drink. Of course, I don’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English, so the measurements are all educated guesses. My travel companion Gaby made her own version
a little more accurately back in the States…either way, I’d go heavy on the Pisco *winks*
What you need & how to do it:
It was really hard to imagine good food was going to be possible in the driest hot desert on earth but good food was all we could find! In fact, all the food we had in Chile was outstanding. Our guide told us, “Unlike the food grown in America, we do not use chemicals – it’s all natural and better tasting.” One of the most important local crops to Chileans is quinoa, a now super trendy global food once rejected by Americans. We found ourselves one afternoon dining in San Pedro, a tiny Atacama desert town, where we tried all the dishes with quinoa on the menu at La Estaka we could find, including a quinoa risotto!
Food is very important to me…it fills your soul in a way nothing else can and sometimes, it can be the best part of my day. I was quite nervous about what the quality of food would be like in South America especially considering I live in one of the food capitals of the world. I was so pleasantly surprised at what was placed before me. Every single meal we ate was better than the last and almost all the restaurants we dined at had menus that changed daily to reflect what fresh produce or seasonal item they received that day.
Also, writing this post has officially made me starving.
Continue reading “Dining in San Pedro”
Imagine a resort that looks like it is one with the mountain, that feels so tucked away in its own corner of earth so far from anything that all you hear is the sound of silence. I love silence. I love what I can discover about myself in these moments, to purely hear my thoughts and have nothing to disrupt the cadence of my imagination. We had more time here at the Hotel Alto Atacama on our #onlyinsouthamerica Chile tour than in Santiago or Valparaiso, more time to swim in one of the six pools, nap on our private porch or have Pisco Sours at sunset. The landscape here is like nothing else…more often than not while driving in or out of our desert adventures, we would all say how it “looks like we landed on Mars!” Yet there was something also familiar to the resort: it reminded me of that western charm and solitude I found in Texas here, one of my favorite retreats. I love a place where you can fill your days with exciting activities or do absolutely nothing at all. I love a resort in the middle of nowhere with incredible food… and I really love a good spa day no matter where I am.
Between the food, the hospitality, the fire pits at night, the endless amounts of desert excursions and the JAW DROPPING VIEW OF STARS AT NIGHT (I saw 3 shooting stars!) this place was one you’d never want to leave. I bet that’s why the President of Chile was staying there at the same time…and who can blame him?
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After the exploration of Santiago and Valparaiso we took a dramatic turn to the northern part of Chile and the very remote Atacama desert. Though I’ve seen some beautiful desert landscapes, nothing compared to the foreign view we found here which reminded us more of MARS than any place on this earth. Even the name of one of the expansive vistas, Moon Valley, solidifies you are not alone in your galactic references. It’s hard to imagine that something so obscure, otherworldly and barren can be so beautiful but it is! The endless sky, the ever changing colors, the sculptural nature of rocks from behind massive dunes. Over our 3 day tour of the Atacama desert we would discover llamas in the wild, a town kept alive by 15 people, no stop signs or red lights and nothing even close to an advertisement, salt flats and volcanoes, rock engravings, valleys and geysers and the *most* unbelievable night sky I have ever seen you can find #onlyinsouthamerica.
I was quite enchanted with the colors of the salt flats, the O’Keeffe nature of the gradients, especially just after the sun had set and the mountains were a wash of early evening violet. These low valley salt flats, a result of the surrounding volcanic mountains, are very shallow and when I touched my hand under the surface I watched my skin wrinkle and dry out as if I was instantly aging myself by 30 years.
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Our first Chile accommodations set the bar really high, so I was very pleased to see another stunning boutique hotel come into view as we crested over one of the steep city hills. The historic palace built in 1923 was originally a private home built as a gift between a Croatian mining and shipping millionaire to his English wife in grand Victorian style. I like to imagine the vibrant red exterior was a visual ode to love, a giant heart sitting on the edge of the sea. Over time the building fell into disrepair, but through an extensive renovation project by the properties new owners and Chilean architect Mathias Klotz, Hotel Palacio Astoreca is a destination for the city of Valparaiso. They brought back to life the original outdoor paint which is such a beautiful contrast to the abundant white terrace that overlooks the busy bay and setting sun. Inside the architect left the original bones and woodwork while updating the space to modern day design sensibility and comfort.
We sat outside and had cocktails on the terrace after our city walk and enjoyed nightcaps in what I called the “explorer’s library” where books of travel and colors of the world inspire your mind for everything else to see #onlyinsouthamerica!
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Our second day of a journey to be found #onlyinsouthamerica…
We arrived at the colorful shipping port town of Valparaiso. My first impression – it looks like San Francisco!… and my second impression – it feels like San Francisco! (up. down. up. down.) The colors I had fallen in love with from my first Chile experience in the city of Santiago really came to life in Valparaiso…gardens bursting with flowers, painted stucco walls, colorful stairs up the steep city climbs, bright and detailed murals and historic, vibrant buildings. It was here in Valparaiso I had my first Pisco Sour. I had received email warnings about how their tasty appeal can get you in trouble…but it was just the kind of trouble I was looking for in Chile. After cocktails on the terrace of our hotel, we ended our one night in Valparaiso at the #1 voted restaurant outside of Santiago – Restaurant Alegre. This was Kevin’s favorite meal of the trip. I can’t even begin to describe the modern and surprising flavors this 29 year old wünder-chef created for us. It’s one of those things you just have to taste to understand… and then melt into a puddle on the floor. Oh, and he ended the meal with a dessert tree. I mean… bravo Valparaiso.
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