Santiago Trip Day 2

I spent last night at the Radisson Santiago. Oh my God, that place was nice. And don't get me wrong, I know that in the States Radisson's are not the nicest, but internationally they are awesome. This Radisson was recently remodelled in January 2007. It's classified as a 3 star hotel, but it was much closer to 4 stars. My room was gorgeous with a really sleek modern look. The concierge was immensely helpful. The staff were all fluent in at least 3 languages. Upon checking in I received a welcome drink which was excellent. When I got to my room I had a complimentary snack and bottle of water. The bathroom was a large marble tiled affair. The best was when I opened my windows and was presented with a great view of the Andes Mountains. The hotel is located within the World Trade Center and is in easy walking distance to restaurants and is only a block away from a metro stop (Tabalaba). When I woke up and went downstairs for breakfast I was stunned at the quality and quantity of the breakfast selections. There were 10 different meat courses, eggs, hashbrowns, cereal, at least 5 different juices, fruit, and much much more. It was complimentary of course and teh service was excellent. As I was walking out the door the staff asked me if I wanted any help planning out things to do and see. They were very helpful and gave me a map with all of the highlights on it. I didn't just do the things in the guidebook, but instead went to a lot of architecturally unique things just to see them. Places without giftshops, but beautiful art instead.

I went downtown to spend the day sightseeing. Unfortunately, I discovered that on Monday most of the touristy things to do downtown are closed. I think this is because most of the museums and things are open Saturday and Sunday, so Monday is the day that they are closed. In all honesty, I wouldn’t really recommend trying to sightsee in Santiago on Monday through Wednesday. Most of the markets, museums and other sights are open Thursday through Sunday. You could probably see most of the “can’t miss” sights in Santiago in one day. Museums open at 10, so I’d start by seeing some of the cathedrals in the morning, see a few museums in the afternoon and after lunch go up the furnicular to see out over the whole of Santiago. I would then spend the afternoon shopping in the local markets and finish the night off with dinner and dancing.

In the end I spent the afternoon looking at the national cathedral and other Churches and walking around downtown. I took the metro downtown and it was surprisingly easy to navigate despite my lack of proficiency in Spanish. The ride downtown took about 30 minutes by metro and cost 480p ($1.00). The maps made it very easy to figure out where you were going and transferring lines was quick and easy.

In general the city is very safe. It is clean, easy to navigate and non-Spanish speakers can usually find someone to assist them in necessary. I will say that you should hang onto your belongings. When I was shopping in the afternoon I saw a man tackled by the police for attempting to steal from a man. He was arrested by 6 officers, cuffed and searched on the spot.

I did notice that being the only natural blonde woman in the country makes people look twice. As I was walking by I had more than one guy give me the macho South American leer. A couple of guys stopped me and wanted to tell me how beautiful I was. It was a little intimidating, but not in a scary way. I did enjoy the fact that unlike the US where I am curvy, here I am very beautiful. I'm learning to embrace my curves. Next time I think of going on a diet after watching Kiera Knightly movie I'll book a trip to Latin America instead.

When I got back to the hotel I thought about just going to bed. Dinner here starts at 9 to 9:30 at night, which is a little late when you're jet lagged. I'm quite happy to say that I took the concierge's advice and went out to dinner. I went to a small restaurant called Coco Loco off of Vitacura. The food was excellent, cheap and authentic Chilean seafood. I spent less than $10.00 for three courses and it was the best seafood I've had in a long time. Even though it was just me I had no trouble ordering. I was suprised that dinner for 1 took almost 2 hours, but it was like that in Paris as well. The neighborhood near the Radisson is quite safe and well-lit at night so I didn't mind walking back to my hotel at 11:30.

I'll have to post photos later.


Santiago Trip Day 1

First off, let me say that LAX is the worst international airport in the world, well that I’ve been to anyway. The entire concourse, and yes I can say entire, has just one restaurant and a few duty free stores. The hot dog stand produced overpriced and subpar hot dogs which those of us who had no other options were grateful for. There was no real bar or lounge to rest in for a few hours. I must say that if I were an international visitor, I would be unimpressed. If I’d known better I would have eaten in the domestic terminal before going through security at the international terminal. Hmm…maybe that attitude is why everyone around me appeared to drop 20 lbs the second I entered the international terminal. Yup, Americans are fat. Oh well, I just wish they had a Starbucks or something in the terminal. We don’t even restrict American’s to that level of selection in far flung Alaska, why should we be losing out on the money our international visitors would drop on their layovers by not even offering food. My other big beef with LAX is that the displays made it nearly impossible to find what gate your flight was at. If I had checked in and had my gate printed on my boarding pass that would be fine. But I checked in 12 hours prior in Fairbanks, Alaska long before my gate had ever been decided on.

I did find that exchanging money at LAX carries no fee whereas doing so in the Chile airport has a $1.50 fee. Small savings and a better exchange rate to boot. After 25 hours of travel I finally made it to Chile. I had layovers in Seattle, LA and Lima, Peru. The Peru stop was long enough for me to get off of the plane, buy a postcard and get back on the plane. I was amazed at the folks who brought back 2-3 bags worth of goods from the duty-free. That reminds me, since when has shopping on a plane become the “in” activity? The people on my Lan Chile flight were shopping duty free like there was no tomorrow. The bargains weren’t good and the duty can’t be that high. We each had catalogs in the back of our seats and they kept coming up and down the aisles delivering orders to folks. The guy in the seat next to me spent over $400 in our 12 hours together. I’ll admit, I succumbed and bought some hand cream, but that’s because mine was confiscated in LAX. I found myself more than entertained watching 4 movies, playing with the Berlitz language software (I now know how to count in Russian, English, German, French and Spanish), and playing digital Tetris, Poker and Blackjack. Those international planes are sweet, especially when you get an exit row. I had as much space as the people in first class and paid half the price. I couldn’t fully recline, but that wasn’t a big deal because I don’t sleep on planes anyway. Now it's time for me to go sleep!


Spanish for Travelers

I leave tonight for Santiago, Chile and I'm not ready, not by a long shot. My laundry is in the washer for things that I need to pack. I have to gather things from all over the house and put back half of things I think I'm going to pack so that I actually can carry my bag and have room for souvenirs. I would also feel guilt carrying things around that I don't really need as they only release more CO2 into the atmosphere. This will be my first eco-friendly trip. I bought carbon credits when I booked through Expedia. They sent me a nifty green luggage tag to put on my bags and show off my status to my fellow travelers. It's made out of plastic. Isn't that a petroleum product and therefore non-Earth-friendly. Perhaps it's recycled plastic. I have a lot of trip preparation to do during my flight. For one I need to look through my guidebook and see what I want to do on my two off days. For the other I need to develop a working knowledge of Spanish so that I can navigate. Apparently Chileans aren't commonly fluent in English. So far my phrase list is three words long. I have on my list: ATM, police, and coffee. Hmm... priorities need adjustment perhaps. Of course I also told myself that on my flight I would study for my midterms that are coming up the week I get back and do all of my law school applications, essays, etc. I don't think even I can do all that in 30 hours. Oh yeah, I don't sleep on planes, that will help.


"infidelity while on active duty in the army"

I was quite disappointed when I found out that my blog was the top result for a Google search of "infidelity while on active duty in the army." This two sided coin is a really sensitive issue, spouses cheating on soldiers and soldiers having too much fun in the desert, but with the national divorce rate as high as it is I'm sure it's not unique to the military. Thankfully I have not lived through a deployment yet, nor have I lived on a military base where this type of behavior is probably more common. To others who might find my blog this way I would offer that you should be concerned about preserving your marriage before your soldier even gets orders to deploy. Being a military spouse is hard, but making it work is really worth it. It will take work, don't kid yourself. If you are a 19 year old bride who married her high school sweetheart turned marine you're kidding yourself if you think that high school romance and gorgeous uniforms last. You have to put in the work, know when to listen and know when to shut up. This isn't just about you, you gave up "I" when you said "I do." Instead I want you to think about why you wanted to get married in the first place. Is what you have worth preserving? If so you won't be putting out personals ads looking for fun. Don't think of it as being left behind, neglected, lonely. Don't just be a dependent, stand on your own two feet and be yourself. Your marriage should be able to last and you should stand up and be your own interesting, unique and joyful person. Don't let yourself become bitter or paranoid. If you think that your partner trusts and loves you then you shouldn't have to worry about them either.

Oh and in case you're wondering why I would come up under a search like that in the first place, I did a review of a new TV show Army Wives awhile back.


I Heart Law Mommies

Law Mommies are brave in so many ways. If you haven't heard about Kim or Lag Liv you need to take the time and visit their blogs. They are both going through their own nightmares and law school at the same time.

Letters of Recommendation for Law School

I requested two of my letters of recommendation for law school last night. One is my old department chair and one is a professor. They both know me really well from my work with our professional society so they have seen both my in class performance and my leadership/volunteer work. I was thrilled that they were both so enthusiastic to write letters for me. I'll be sending them my resume and personal statement from last year soon to give them some material to work off of. I really want to get good letters though and these being engineering professors I'm afraid they'll write a MS program reference. "This is a good student, I heartily recommend them to your program and you should believe me become I'm a really impressive academic that you should respect as your peer." This isn't what I think law schools are looking for. An official letter on official stationary from an academic is probably less meaningful that thoughtful commentary on my strengths. I'm trying to figure out how to phrase my letter request to solicit the "right" kind of letter.

The other one that really freaks me out is my third letter. This professor/friend said, "Just write the letter and give it to me to sign." I don't really feel comfortable doing that, but it really seems like an opportunity. Any advice?


XBOX Price Drop

Not to be outdone by Apple, Microsoft has announced that it is dropping the price of its most popular gadget, the XBox 360, by $50. Hubby hasn't really played computer or video games since he graduated from college. Mostly its because he's out of touch with the latest and greatest since leaving the dorm life. Lately he has taken to replaying old classics from the 1999-2002 era, aka the time before we were really together and he had copious amounts of spare time on his hands. I think it's about time he stopped feeling old, I mean he's only turning 27 this year! So I'm undecided between getting him an XBox or a bunch of computer games. I've never really understood the idea of console games. You pay $400.00 for a system and then you still have to buy each game at $60.00 each! This thing better also make toast and replace at least two other gadgets in our house. Undecided and in need of feedback from those who actually understand. His birthday is in two weeks.

Alaska's Primary is in August Next Year

It's very hard to get my fellow Alaskans interested in politics. They really don't care about national elections that much. We're a red state, always have been and probably always will be. The most chance a democrat has of being elected is if they run for state office. Although that chance is slim to none considering our governor has the highest approval rating of any elected Republican in office in the entire country. She is awesome, I'll admit it, and an August 2007 poll had her approval rating at 84%, with 5% disapproving. I don't suppose it helps that we have the last primary election in the union. August 26th! Really hard to feel like your vote is going to count for something when all of the big decisions and drop outs will be happening months earlier after other states have voted. I really would support a national primary election. You could vote for who you think should be the candidate rather than just the most electable one.


3 Times the Challenge

Saw this on Ana's blog and felt that I should pass this along. Kim is a law school blogger/Mom/and cancer patient, wow a triple whammy. She is being nominated for a blogger scholarship of $10k which I'm sure is richly deserved. Currently she is 3% behind the leader in votes, but I know that can change so take the two seconds to go and vote for her. You don't need an account or anything.

Here's a link to the voting page:
Here's a link to an article in the most recent issue of Student Lawyer, which mentions Kim:
Here's a link to Kim's blog:


Travel Plans - Santiago, Chile

Currently I travel a lot, as in over 89,000 miles in the last 12 months or over 145,000 miles in the last 15 months. This time last year I went to Paris, Butte, Phoenix, Richland and LA (twice) all in the months of September and October. This year I'll rack up San Diego, Portland, Berkeley, Santiago Chile and St. Louis in the same two month period and that's after turning down 3 trips. This will of course no longer be sustainable once I'm in school so I'm taking advantage of it while I can. I hope to travel to India, Las Vegas, Chicago, LA and England before relinquishing my volunteer work and settling down into law school. By that time I should have enough frequent flyer miles to go just about anywhere and bring hubby along. Poor hubby, he's only gone with me on one trip to Boston for a week. Probably better off because as glamorous as all of this travel sounds, I'm really there to work and I rarely see more than the airport and the hotel meeting room. I'll fly out after work on Friday get in Saturday morning for a Saturday meeting and fly right back home afterwards. For a person who doesn't sleep on planes that is rough.

I try to have one trip that is about a week long twice a year and save my vacation time for those. I basically pick the most interesting meeting I've got coming up and then extend my travel plans at that destination, getting two days of hotel and the airfare for free. Last fall it was Paris, this spring it was Boston, and this fall it will be Santiago, Chile. I'm pretty excited about this. Excited and intimidated. When I went to Paris I had 8 hours of Pimsluer CD lessons under my belt. Thankfully I've got a pretty solid grounding in languages and this translated to being able to roughly navigate through Paris and get non-English cab drivers to take me where I want to go. It also helps that French and Russian have a lot of cognates so my vocabulary was artificially higher than it would have otherwise been. Spanish though, um yeah, I don't know Spanish at all. I fully intend on using at least part of my 34 hours of travel time that will be spent getting there learning a little Spanish, but I suspect it won't be enough. Thankfully two of my friends who are Spanish will be coming and hopefully their European Spanish will be enough to get me by during the times we're together.

This trip is creeping up very fast. I just booked my tickets today and the trip is in like 2.5 weeks. I don't know what there is to do there or anything. I'll have two days before the meeting to play tourist so I guess I'll be packing my guidebook and backpack along with my suit and laptop. If anybody has any suggestions for Latin-American travel, I'd be happy to hear them. I haven't even had time to do a good Google search for travel blogs to Chile yet.