Chile – Day 5 – Valparaiso & Santiago

Today I woke up with a headache at 6:45am so I got dressed and walked across the street to the Shell gas station and purchased an Americano and then sat in the lobby of our hotel while catching up on Social Media. I went upstairs at 8:00am and C was ready for breakfast. For breakfast we went back to the Panini Cafe that we went to two days ago. I had a Neapolitan panini and a double shot americano, while C had a Belgian waffle with strawberry syrup as well as a Cappuccino.

We hung out in the hotel room in the morning while I did some work and C drew on her iPad. We checked out at noon and left our bags at the hotel for a few hours while we explored Valparaiso a bit more. We explored the community of Bellavista. We decided that even though Bellavista was nice that we enjoyed the other cerro’s that we had visited on the previous day more than Bellavista. After exploring Bellavista we decided we wanted to track down a restaurant that served Arepas, which is a bun made of ground maize dough or flour and then stuffed with meat and cheese. Arepas are actually not too common to Chile, as they are a Colombian and Venezuelan food, but we were craving it since we had them at one of my colleagues houses back home. We came across the one of the only places in town that served them (according to Google Maps); Sazon Chevere. I had pulled brisket with cheese, and C had pulled chicken with cheese.

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We picked up our bags at 3:45pm and took the train (also saw a homeless dog sleeping on the train who seemed very cute and peaceful) and walked back to the bus terminal to take us back to Santiago. While walking back to the bus terminal a guy tried to pull a typical tourist theft scheme on C but we caught it in time and nothing was stolen. The scheme typically occurs by someone saying that your bag is open (even when it’s not) and that some stuff fell out, which you then scramble to find, and someone else will then quickly slip into your pockets while you’re panicking and steal your phone and/or wallet. I recognized this right away. This type of scheme is very common in South America and some parts of Southeast Asia.

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We took a 5:15pm TurBus bus back to Valparaiso. We were fortunate enough to have seats on the upper deck with a view out the front, which was a really nice view. During the bus ride I started to come down with a cold.

We arrived in Pajaritos at around 7:00pm and took a $6.40 Uber ride to City Express Hotel beside Santiago International Airport (SCL). We checked in to the hotel and had some dinner in the bar. I had a burger and some local beers (Quimera Amber Ale & Quimera Pale Ale), while C had spaghetti and a glass of white wine. Both beers were quite excellent! It was then time for us to head to bed as we had to wake up at 5:15am for an early morning flight.

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2018-03-16 – Lyon

Today I woke up at 7:00am with the use of an alarm, because I knew I had a busy day ahead of me. The day started off by taking the metro to City Hall Lyon station where I saw City Hall Lyon, Bartholdi Fountain, Place des Terreaux and picked up some delicious baked goods from Antoinette Pain & Brioche. The City Hall Lyon was built in 1651, but has survive a fire, and received some modifications and restorations since.
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My next stop was Amphitheater of the Three Gauls. The amphitheater dates back to 19AD and has ties back to the Roman’s! It’s estimated that the theatre had four levels of seats, and was about 80×60 metres in size. I then stopped at a local coffee shop and had a delicious coffee with a cranberry and chocolate chip cookie.
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After the coffee shop I walked the streets in the beautiful community of La Croix-Rousse, coming across a very beautiful stairwell called Cour des Voraces. I rode Metro Line C back down, which is a pretty unique Metro line, holding the current record for the worlds steepest metro line.
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After some walking and a quick ride up a funicular line 1 the next stop was the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière and the adjoining museum. The museum showcased the history of how Lyon came to be and why there was so much Roman influence in the city. The theatre was built around 15BC, has a 90 metre radius and could hold an estimated 10000 people!
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The next stop was the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere and the underwhelming Metallic Tower of Fourvière next to it. The basilica is actually rather new compared to the rest of the Lyon, being built between 1872 and 1884. It overlooks the entire city and is decorated with some of the most beautiful art that I’ve ever seen!

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I took the funicular back town to the community of Vieux Lyon. I had pizza and a beer for lunch at La Trattoria before walking through the remainder of Vieux Lyon, visiting the also rather underwhelming Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptist). I was quite tired at this point having walked over 20km, so I went back to my hotel for what was supposed to be a 1 hour nap, that ended up turning into a 3 hour nap.
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When I woke up I took the tram to Musée des Confluences and took a picture from the nearly bridge overlooking the museum. I then went back to the base of Fourvière and took the funicular back up so that I could get some night time photos of the basiclica and a view of the city. On the way home I stopped by Brasserie George, which was literally next door to my hotel. I picked up a Princess Pale Ale, which was a delicious India pale ale with mild citrus notes.
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While drinking my beer I booked some exhibits that I wanted to see in Barcelona as they were quickly selling out. The exhibits I booked were Sagrada de Familia, Casa Mila, and park Güell. I went to bed at around midnight.

 

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2018-03-14 – Toulouse

Today I woke up at 8:00am. Toulouse has an amazing bike rental company called Toulouse Velo, which stands for Toulouse Bike. I rented a bike from right outside my hotel and rode towards the town Center where I grabbed some McDonald’s for breakfast before taking the tram up to The Aeroscopia Museum near the airport. The museum featured predominantly Airbus products, but had a few other products such as the Caravelle and not one, but two Concorde’s! The price was fairly reasonable at €12.50.
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The Caravelle, designed and built by Sud Aviation right here in Toulouse between 1955 and 1972, is such a unique aircraft because it had triangular windows, a unique T-tail arrangement, and was one of the first jet turbine powered aircraft to be built that was highly successful. The last aircraft was retired in 2005, a whole 50 years after it first flew. The only comparable jet turbine powered airliner that shares this same success would be the McDonnell Douglas DC9 or the Boeing 737 series, the later having just had its 10,000th unit produced and was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. I also got to go inside the Concorde’s, an old Airbus A300, and a Super Guppy!
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After exploring Aeroscopia I went to the restaurant next door called La Ferme du Pinot, where I had a local Toulousian dish called Cassolette. Cassolette is beans, pork and duck confit; think meat and beans casserole. I really liked the aviation inspired chairs that were at the restaurant as well. Once I move into a nicer apartment or house I’d like to purchase one.
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After lunch I took the tram back into the city exploring lots of old architecture dating back to around the 1100’s and onwards including the old City Hall, Saint Sernin, and Church of the Jacobins.
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I went back to my hotel to relax for a bit before going out for dinner at the same place I had the donair last night because it was so good. After dinner I went to a local brewery/beer shop called La Matabiere, where I picked up four different beers; three IPA’s and one Amber. I head back to my hotel room and did some photo editing and drank the beers before heading out to do some night photography of the churches and old City Hall. I ended up going to bed around 10:00pm.
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2018-03-11 – Paris

Today I woke up at 5:45am. I started the day off by going to Moulin Rouge to take a photo of the exterior, but was disappointed that it wasn’t lit up. I’ll have to try again later. I then visited the two remaining Art Nouveau stations left in Paris (Abbesses and Point Dauphine). After that I went to Sacre Coure. It’s absolutely beautiful inside but sadly you’re not allowed to take pictures inside, and in fact I tried to take a photo but got in trouble and they made me delete the photo. My camera is so noisy you can’t hide the fact that it’s taking a photo. After that I took the Funicular down and went to the Grand and Petit Palaces, and Pont Alexandre III Bridge.
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I decided it was time for a break so I went to a Starbucks near Arc du Triumph. There was quite a bunch of hungover young women draped all over the couches in there. I was laughing on the inside remembering a few of those days in my youth. After having a coffee at Starbucks I went to The Arc. It was absolutely stunning and well worth the 200 or so steps to climb to the top!
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After visiting the Arc I went and saw the Eiffel Tower, found a good Vietnamese restaurant for lunch, and then went back to my hotel for a short nap.
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After waking from my nap I went to see the Parisian Catacombs. The lineup was about 1 1/2 hours but it was well worth the wait. The catacombs was originally used as a rock quarry and then later used as a mass burial ground when the city ran out of cemetery space and later bared burials from happening within city limits. Its estimated over 4 million people’s remains are in the catacombs. It’s an incredible but creepy sight to see.
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Random fact about the catacombs; during 2004, police discovered a fully equipped movie theatre in one of the caverns. It was equipped with a giant cinema screen, seats for the audience, projection equipment, film reels of recent thrillers and film noir classics, a fully stocked bar, and a complete restaurant with tables and chairs. The source of its electrical power and the identity of those responsible remain unknown.
After the catacombs I went to a highly rated (on Google) beer market called Brewberry Beer Cellar. There I picked up three beers; Jet Lag IPA, Jai Alai White Oak IPA, and HibouBerry Double IPA. All were absolutely amazing, but my personal favorite was the Jai Alai. I’ve been scoping out that one for a few years now since I heard about it on one of the podcasts I listen to. It’s brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, USA.
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I headed back towards my hotel and stopped for a Crepe and then relaxed in my hotel room for a bit and had my beers. After having my beers I went to take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, and I must say it was definitely worth it!

I got back to my hotel quite late, around midnight. Tomorrow I’m off to see Mont Saint-Michel!!!

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Day Trip To Seattle

Last weekend I took a quick day trip to Seattle. I had to wake up at 4:30am in order to get to the airport for my 7:30 flight. I ended up meeting my father at the airport before his flight to Mexico (our flights were departing at roughly the same time). After my dad boarded his flight I was asked to show my passport for verification to the gate agent. While I was up there I asked if there was any upgrades available, and they put me in first class for no additional charge. The flight to Seattle was quick and smooth on the Embraer E-175. The breakfast selection was quite large, but I chose a “breakfast” cookie and a banana, as well as some coffee.

After landing in Seattle I picked up my rental vehicle, a Kia Sportage; not a bad car at all! I ended up getting a rock chip within the first 5 minutes of leaving the rental facility, but ended up talking my way out of having to pay for the repair.

I only had a day in Seattle so I made the best of it. My first stop was exploring old Seattle while I was waiting for the Museum of flight to open. After exploring around I still had some time to burn so I decided to get a breakfast burrito at a restaurant in an old fire hall called McCoy’s Firehouse. It was delicious and the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. After breakfast I went to the Museum of flight where I spent about 3.5 hours exploring around. I would have spent more time there, but there was other items on my list. I got to tick off a few bucket list items there; going on the last two Boeing’s that I have yet to step foot on (the Boeing 707 and 747). The Boeing 747 is a large plane, but I was blown away by how large it feels on the inside even compared to the 777.

After visiting the Museum of Flight I drove towards the Seattle Space Needle and parked my car. I went to the Chihuly Glass Museum and Gardens. The glasswork is absolutely amazing. The amount of detail and effort that goes into his work is phenomenal! I was getting hungry at this point in time so I googled a Vietnamese place that was close by and had some delicious Sate Beef Pho soup there.

The afternoon was spent driving around looking at various touristy places before going to the Seattle Gas Works Park, public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. The plant was purchased by the City of Seattle for park purposes in 1962. The park opened to the public in 1975. An interesting thing to note about the former gasification plant is that synthetic gas was produced from burning coal.

After visiting the park it was almost time to go back to the airport, but I had one last stop to make, the Fremont Brewing Company, where I had a pint of their Lush IPA. Their Lush IPA is super hoppy with pleasant citrus notes. After enjoying my delicious IPA I fuelled up my rental vehicle, dropped off the rental vehicle, and went to the airport. At the airport I asked again if there were any upgrades, and again I was given a complimentary upgrade to First Class. Delta has definitely won me over! The flight back was extremely turbulent, which is typical for evening flights. If you want a nice smooth flight you have better luck on early morning flights with the cooler and denser air.

Take a look at my pictures of my trip below and enjoy!

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New York & Boston Part 1 of 2

In April I had to opportunity to take a trip to New York & Boston. Work was a little slow that week so I decided to take the opportunity to fly out to New York & Boston. I ended up getting a Return Ticket from YYC directly into JFK for only $332 with WestJet in Economy Plus.

I spent a total of two days in New York. For some reason I had a huge difficulty sleeping in the AirBNB I was staying at because it was so warm, so I had an early start each day, which allowed me to see a lot. Some highlights of New York were visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the finance District, Chinatown, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge, East Village, Harlem, and The High Line. I didn’t have the opportunity to go on top of any of the towers there as I didn’t book the tickets enough in advance. When I was there I even got to meetup with the sister and husband of a friend that I used to work with at a previous employer. We had so much delicious food including Vietnamese and Pizza, as well as some of the best IPA’s I’ve ever had in my life. The east coast definitely knows how to make a great IPA!

I’ve included some pictures of my New York trip below. Check back soon for Part 2!

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Hawaii – Oahu & Big Island

I’m till trying to catch up on all of my blog posts. I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Hawaii. This was my second time visiting Hawaii, last time being my friend Marc’s wedding in 2016. This time I set out to explore Oahu and the Big Island.

Originally it was a solo trip for the first half, but on my flight was a beautiful woman named Myriam. Turns out she worked for the same airline (Air Canada) I was flying on and was also flying Solo because her friend had cancelled going on the trip with her. We got chatting and turns out we wanted to do similar things. She didn’t have a rental car or a ride from the airport so I offered to drive her to her hotel. We exchanged numbers and ended up meeting up the next day and ended up spending the majority of the rest of the trip together.

We travelled around Oahu for 5 days exploring the entire island, going snorkeling many times, drinking great drinks, eating great food, and visiting the very memorable Pearl Harbor site.

When it was time for me to go to the Big Island I asked Myriam what she was going to do and she said she’d come along with me to the Big Island. We travelled together on Hawaiian Airlines over to Hilo, picked up the rental car, got some groceries and proceeded to the rental house that I had booked. The house was absolutely beautiful, despite a slightly nosey host that lived above. Myriam stayed with me for a few days before we picked up my friend Krystylyn, who was going to stay for a week.

We explored around the Big Island together before it was time for Myriam to go. I dropped her off at the airport, and then spent the remaining 5 days with my friend Krystylyn. We did a ton of snorkeling, ate some wonderful food, and saw some amazing sights.

Below are some pictures from this memorable trip.

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