Sunday, December 23, 2007


Hi, everyone! I made it to SA safe and sound on Friday afternoon. We landed a bit late b/c the cleaning crew in Miami arrived late to clean the plane. Whatever. A pretty uneventful flight. I managed to sleep, albeit fitfully, w/ my ambien and my window seat. My bags arrived with no issues, so that was a relief. When we arrived at the hotel, we grabbed some food (arroz con pollo) while we waited for our rooms to be ready. Once they were ready, I headed out w/ 2 guys that were on my bus, David (Denver) and Harry (MD), to walk around Santiago. We walked about 1 mile to a cable car (mini gondola, but w/ no window to open for ventilation) that took us to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, which has beautiful views of the city.
The views of the Andes surrounding Santiago were obstructed by the haze that sits over the city from air pollution. Kind of like the brown cloud in Denver. From the top, we then took the funicular down to the bottom and caught a cab back to the hotel.

You will be very impressed w/ my rudimentary Spanish. I managed to have an entire conversation w/ the cab driver in SPANISH! Those language tapes were great! Friday night we had a group dinner at a Chilean restaurant under the stars. It was really nice.

Saturday, we woke up early for a quick bus tour of the city. We went to the Plaza de Armas, the pre-Columbian museum which had artifacts from the different indigenous populations in Central and South America, and the Constitution Plaza where Allende was assassinated and Pinochet came to power. Afterwards, we drove to Valparaiso and the ship.

Check in was a breeze. No lines whatsoever. I had planned to drop my stuff in the room and walk around the city, but ended up bailing on that idea. Instead, I met some folks up on the patio off the buffet and had lunch and sat in the sun.

There are about 65 folks in our group. It seems more on the older side than the younger side. A good deal of folks in their 50s I would say. Still, there's a decent number of younger women on the trip (not necessarily younger men). Everyone is very friendly and that's really all that matters. Amy didn't get into town until later and I finally saw her at the orientation for about 10 minutes. Dinner was assigned seating last night.

So we took off at dinner time. Midway thru dinner the ship started rocking and continued to rock. I went back to my room and grabbed the sea bands Katie recommended and they have been great! No nausea! I went to the show (lame welcome show) and then went back to unpack. The ship was rocking like crazy last night and the drawer in the closet kept banging the door, so I didn't have the best sleep last night. My cabin steward fixed it today so it should be better tonight.

Today, I tried to walk on the jogging track but it was too windy. Instead, I went to the gym and tried the treadmill. Not a good idea on a rocking ship. I abandoned that idea and ended up on the elliptical since you can still move your arms while holding on. I had lunch w/ the group and then hung out on the pool deck in the sun. It's cool and windy, but in the sun it wasn't so bad. Tomorrow is our first port, so I'm looking forward to that!

Friday night, I ran into 2 guys from the states in the lobby. They were a trip down memory lane in a sense. The guy asks if I'm American, and I say yes. He asks where I'm from and I tell him. W/out missing a beat, he cries out "Fuck yeah!" and does a handshake/chest butt thing and tells me he's from Westchester, PA. He then proceeds to ask me if I have any weed. Um, hello? Do I look like I would have that. I think not. Anyway, long story short, somehow we get to talking about school and he was in Boulder when I was at CU. Very random contact that I tried to ditch as quickly as possible. Afterwards, I was in a coffee shop and the owner was a really nice Israeli guy that married a Chilean woman. It was nice talking w/ him.

About the ship: The room seems much smaller than Princess and the balcony is a good 5 feet shorter. The bathroom, however, is much larger. The shower is probably double the size of the Princess showers. You could comfortably fit 2 adults in it! Dinner last night was very good. The decor is much darker. I'm not thrilled w/ the buffet lunch or breakfast. Not many healthy choices or non-mayo type things. It's more entree type food and that's not what I want for lunch. Still, what I have had is not bad. The theater is nice and open. It's a little more of a maze to find the shops and rooms and such, whereas Princess was a little more straight and everything was off the main corridor. Tonight I'll be checking out the Martini Bar before dinner. I've heard it's excellent! I guess I'll finally have to try one.

Ok, that's enough babbling for now. The Internet is hit or miss at the moment b/c it's a satellite connection. I'll try to get back on tomorrow after we get back from port. If not, I'll touch base later. Adios!

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