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It's hard to believe that it was only last month we declared the LAN Airlines lounge at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza Airport the "best in South America." That may have been true at the time but, as of this week, the tides have changed and LAN's home airport in Santiago, Chile now not only claims the best lounge in South America, but the largest.
The brand new Salon VIP opened at SCL yesterday, and it borrows much of the look and South American design influence of that Buenos Aires lounge, albeit on a grander scale.
As the largest lounge in South America, it naturally boasts some impressive numbers, like the facts that it's 23,000 square feet, with 28 restrooms, 10 showers, a 180-foot-long buffet, 46 employees, and the capacity for 460 travelers. It's nearly 24 hours, with operating hours from 3am to 1am daily.
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If you're in Santiago, Chile and need a little pick-me-up, in more ways than one, consider one of the city's Cafe Con Piernas, or, "Coffee with Legs." No, this is not some super strong coffee that gives you a marathon buzz. Instead, it's coffee served by pretty ladies wearing short dresses and skirts. Seriously short dresses and skirts. Like, expelled from Catholic school short.
True, this is not some topless coffee shop but it is pretty risqué for Chile, or any city for that matter. (Except maybe Amsterdam.) Yet despite the naughtiness, it is quite popular for business men to hold informal meetings. There are even a few chains of cafe con piernas scattered about Santiago.
We strolled by the Cafe Bombay near the Plaza de la Constitucion last summer, where ladies wear all sorts of shorty, short dresses, at least according to the Foursquare photos. (This page just might be the ultimate up skirt photo opp spot.) However, we opted to go inside a smaller, more low-key cafe nearby where the women wore tight, black, short dresses and serious looks on their face. If Suicide Girls had a cafe con piernas this would be it. (Unfortunately, we forgot the name.)
As for the coffee, it was very simple (no frappucinos here) but there was a very chill vibe inside. People weren't gabbing on their cellphones or hoarding bandwidth on their WiFi. They were actually talking, in soft voices, to each other. In between lusty glances at the waitresses, of course.
While Lastarria is still a must-visit 'nabe, we also recommend seeking out the serene scene of Barrio Italia.
Located mostly on Avenida Italia (fitting) and the parallel street of Condell in the greater Providencia district, Barrio Italia was settled in the early and mid 1900s and many of the original warehouse buildings still stand today. (According to this LAN blog, it got its name from the Teatro Italia movie theater that was built there, more so than any Italian influence.)
In recent years, the neighborhood has emerged as a new shopping and cultural district for the city, but there are no brash shops or big brand names here. Instead, you can meander through intimate storefronts (usually grouped together in one building) selling original artwork, handmade clothing and blankets, interesting jewelry, and other specialty items.
Homemade Pastel de Choclo
When visiting the center of Santiago, a walk through the Mercado Central or La Vega is a must for foodies looking to discover the local scene. Always chatty and full of color, these markets carry a lot of personality and plenty of opportunities to munch along the way. But if you want to discover the traditional dishes that Chileans chow down on when they go out for a casual meal, be sure to make the rounds to the local restaurants and order these favorites:
Ski Travel / Chile Travel / Portillo Travel / Valle Nevado Travel / Santiago Travel / South America Travel / Active Travel / Snowboard Travel / Snowboarding / Skiing / Heli-skiing / → All Tags
In this post, we highlight the two most recognizable for out-of-towners, Portillo and Valle Nevado. What's the difference between the two, and which is right for you? Read on to find out.
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When you visit Chile for the first time, you'll notice very quickly that while the locals are technically speaking Spanish, their dialect is 1) very fast and 2) filled with slang words. You will be understood if you speak proper Spanish, but understanding a local will be much easier if you spend some time learning their lingo. Plus, you want to sound cool, right? Below, we've provided a few words that are simple to remember to help get you started:
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Everyone knows that Chile makes one hell of a Pisco Sour, and last year, we told you how you can put a twist on it by adding in some of the Atacama's medicinal plant, Rica Rica. But did you know that the most common way the locals drink Pisco is in soda? When you're ready to go beyond the country's famous cocktail, here's what you should be drinking in Chile:
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Last weekend, we flew American Airlines from Dallas-Fort Worth to Santiago. The route was serviced by a 767-300, which, due to maintenance problems, was delayed 12 hours from Thursday night to Friday morning. After we had reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants came on to explain "today's entertainment."
There were five old-school televisions on the plane, all hung up over the center row. Depending on where you were seated, you may or may not have been actually able to see one clearly – a frustration many passengers vocalized to themselves and their neighbors. I was lucky. I was sitting in a G aisle seat, about a half dozen rows back from a screen, and could see it perfectly in all its 9 by 13 inch glory.
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This could be you, standing at the edge of a calm salt lake in the world's driest region: Chile's Atacama Desert. Or perhaps you prefer wine tasting in the vineyards outside Santiago? Or what about glaciers a stone's throw from Antarctica, in Chilean Patagonia?
Whatever sounds best, it can be yours for free, as LAN has just opened up a massive contest to begin their "Only in South America" campaign. The idea: to show exactly what makes the entire South American continent worth occupying a spot at the top of your bucket list. Naturally they're beginning on home turf, by giving away a luxury once-in-a-lifetime adventure around Chile.
Although Argentina often gets called the most European country in South America, its next door neighbor Chile does have some strong influences left over from the colonial days. One of the most surprising is "Once," a Chilean late-in-the-day snack or small meal that almost always involves tea.
There are two different theories about how Once got its name. The first is that Once (pronounced “oan-say”) is Spanish for “eleven,” and the tradition comes out of the British habit of Elevenses. However, the Chilean version is served later in the day – most people in Chile eat their largest meal at lunchtime and then eat a lighter meal later that night.
Snow Travel / Ski Travel / Skiing / Active Travel / Santiago Travel / Valle Nevado Travel / Snowboarding / Winter Travel / → All Tags
Ahhh, Valle Nevado
It's 90 degrees in New York City and in the Midwest today, and even hotter looking south. Thus, all we can think about are sno-cones, making snow angels, and perhaps a nice hottub dip after snowboarding. Sense a theme? The hottest, muggiest days of summer have us pining for the return of snow.
Of course there are regions of the world experiencing their heaviest powder days right now. It's winter in the southern hemisphere, which means places like South America and Australia/New Zealand are airing out their snowboots for a return to the slopes. Here's three summer snow destinations to consider hitting for summer 2013:
While the US was burning up in the late summer heat last year, we were atop the Andes and snowboarding in a long-sleeve shirt. Valle Nevado boasts 24 miles of runs, the newest in ski lifts and gondolas, a heli-skiing port and ski school, and a beautiful mountaintop village with a range of resorts and more powder than the nearby ski area of Portillo.
If the vertiginous vistas don't get you, the novelty of it will. This isn't the Alps; it's the freakin' Andes and that means different food (and wine!), a welcome laid-back attitude, Spanish and English spoken versus Italian, French and German, and the sense that you've really discovered a secret skiing paradise.
Location: up in the Andes mountains, about an hour-and-a-half's drive up from Santiago. Accessible by rental car, or with weekend packages and car shares out of Santiago.
Price: a day pass for the slopes starts at 29,000 CLP ($58).
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It flies! It actually flies!
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a headline hog. You can read all about it and its drama (lately more than ever) throughout major media, but there's nothing better than actually stepping onboard with a ticket to ride.
After more than a year of hanging out with the 787 on the tarmac, we finally flew the darned thing as South American airline LAN celebrated the inaugural flight of their new Los Angeles-to-Santiago, Chile 10-hour non-stop with the spiffy new bird.
So, what actually happens onboard a 787 flight? Is it really so different from any other airplane? Having just stepped off of this, our first 787 flight, we can finally answer those questions: lots of stuff and yes.
To describe a 10-hour flight is akin to boring neighbors with photo slides of a water park vacation. Instead, we're breaking it down into the hourly highlights ("the short of it") and, for those rapt with pleasure for every detail, the long of it, in first-person: