Hola de Santiago

Trip Start Sep 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 17, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hola! (this concludes the Spanish portion of my entry).
I hope this message finds you well.  I have embarked on yet another adventure...this one bringing me to my fifth continent (I'm talking to you Mike!).  I am spending 8 days in Latin America recruiting on the World MBA Tour.  First stop: Santiago, Chile.  In addition to working this year, I also have a friend joining me on the trip, her name is Erin. Thankfully, Erin's Spanish vocabulary goes far beyond mine, which we pretty much covered in the first line of my email.

We arrived in Chile on Tuesday morning and Patricia's driver Roberto,and his English speaking partner, Francisco were there to greet us.  We arrived at the hotel by 9 AM, and although I had requested an early check in, it was not available.  They allowed us to freshen up at the spa and then we were off on our full day tour.  Francisco talked us out of visiting the Concha y Toro winery in exchange for visiting another winery, as well as two seaside towns, Vina del Mar, and Valparaiso.  Of course it wasn't until the end of the day when it was time to pay did we realize they talked us in to this trip because it was much MORE than the trip to the winery.  After flying overnight for 14 hours, one didn't think to ask about the price difference at 7:30 in the morning.  Although shocked, we still had enough cash to cover it, and we did get a nine hour tour of places we would  have no way of getting to on our own, given our time constraints.

We stopped at the Vin Mar winery in the Valle de Casablanca.  We got to take a personalized tour of the winery and our guide actually took us through the whole process.  The only other person on the tour was one of their clients from Poland. He was a young guy and he worked for his parent's company which distributes wine in Poland.  Since we were with a client we also got to visit the special reserve cellar, which was pretty fun.  And of course, the wine tasting was the best part!

After Vin Mar we continued on to Vina del Mar.   We arrived in time for a late lunch. Roberto and Francisco took us to a place near the sea which had an all inclusive price of 7500 pesos (about $15). This included our soft drinks, our appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert...and our pisco sours!  Turns out pisco sours are a little too sour for me.  I tried Chilean salad which is just tomatoes and onions.  Having recently seen Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel I felt obligated to try some of the specialty dishes of the country. So, for lunch it was Congrio Frito (that's fried conger eel).  It tasted like fish and chips. Very fresh, a little salty.

We drove through Vina del Mar, which took a little longer than expected. We didn't have time to get out of the car in Valparaiso because we had to get back to Santiago in time for my alumni dinner.

There are currently two Merage alum living in Santiago, and they just happen to be married to each other.  They met in the program :-).  Jennifer and Francisco picked us up at the Hyatt at 9 for dinner (this was an early dinner. For this reason alone I don't think I could move to South America.  I don't think I could get used to eating dinner that late every night).

They took us to Astrid y Gaston, and I could not have  been happier. In all of my research before the trip this restaurant was consistantly ranked as one of the best restaurants in the city.  The restaurant is in an old house. It is charming.  And our alum are fabulous. Personable, and incredibly entertaining.  They also love food and basically ordered half the menu for our table. I was so excited to try foods that until now, I had only  heard about, or seen someone else eat on the Food Network and Travel Channel.  It was a fancy restaurant, so alas, I have no photos. But, some of the highlights included: blood sausage, foi, duck tartar, ossobucco, and something else I can't rememeber, but we saw it the next day at the fish market.

Dinner wasn't over until well after midnight.  Vicky, while this definitely goes on record as one of the most memorable and enjoyable meals, it still doesn't top Rioja. :-)  PS-to the rest of you, get yourselves on a plane to Denver and make reservations ASAP. 

On Wednesday Erin and I took a city bus tour of Santiago-one of those classic red double deckers.  I only had a few hours before I had to get back to the hotel for interviews.  We managed to visit Cerro San Cristobal, Choscana (Pablo Neruda's house), the very funky Bellavista neighborhood, Plaza des Armas, and the Mercado Central (where I took way too many pictures at the fish market).  I had to get back for work, but Erin stayed out for a few more hours and made her way through a few other neighborhoods. 

It wasn't until I got back to the hotel room that I discovered that we had a view of the Andes! Very cool.

While I was in the lobby waiting for my interviews I ran into Tim, Corinne and Chris. Yay, more friends on the road!  Also met a new recruiter from Hult named Sam.

During the fair our alum Francisco stopped by the table to bring me authentic Chilean pastries. He was too sweet!  So were the desserts! Erin and I had them for breakfast the next day and each one must have weighed a few pounds each and were full of dolche de leche.

After the fair Erin and I joined Tim, Chris and a few other recruiters for dinner at the Thai restaurant in the hotel.  Apparently there was a big football game in Chile Wednesday night and things were supposed to be a little wild outside, so everyone opted to stay in.

Erin and I shared a few curries, which were excellent. Shrimp and asparagus in a yellow curry, and chicken dumplings in panang curry, which was my favorite. Once again, dinner didn't end until after twelve and we still had to pack. 

Early check out on Thursday for our flight to Buenos Aires.  More on that soon...

Wishing you could all be here,

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