Get Your Sleep On – The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (Miami, Florida)

My girlfriends and I stayed at The Surfcomber Hotel South Beach (a Kimpton Hotel) January 9-11, 2015 for my friend’s bachelorette party in Miami, Florida, and we were all very impressed and extremely pleased with the service and hotel in general. I’ve stayed at Kimpton hotels in NYC before (more than once) and this property blows them out of the water with its level of service.
I’ll just preface this that I didn’t take many photos because I didn’t have a camera with me, and only had my iPhone. Sorry.
Some of the folks who made our stay so great deserve special mention – Chase is a customer service dynamo and anyone can see that he is the perfect man for his job as Director of (Day)Life. Laz at the beach really took care of us and went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and had everything we needed, and even made sure that we transitioned seamlessly to a pool cabana from our VIP bed when it started pouring rain while we were at the beach. Andy at the beach did everything he could to remedy any issues we had with service or food/drinks. Gia at the pool was so sweet and provided great, prompt service. Tony at the door helped us store our bags and hail taxis when needed and was friendly, efficient and kind. And finally, Brad from concierge was a doll – and we saw a lot of him, because the bachelorette’s friends kept having champagne delivered to our rooms throughout the whole weekend.
With 4 girls sharing a room, yes, the room was a bit small and yes, the bathroom was small. But Continue reading

New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso, Chile

I suck at posting. I was in the US for quite a while, and getting my fill of all things American and Texan distracted me from updating this thing. Mil disculpas. Here’s what to expect if you decide to spend New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso, Chile.

I don’t remember a whole lot from New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso, but what I did remember is below, included in a list of a few pointers, for those who are thinking of spending New Year’s Eve in Valpo in the future.

The scene at Plaza Sotomayor – safe, but crowded.
Toward the pier (between the buildings) it gets much, much worse.

 

 

 

Top TIPS FOR HOW TO SURVIVE NEW YEAR’S EVE IN VALPARAISO, CHILE

1) DO go to Plaza Sotomayor but stay in the areas where they have the stages set up for the bands. They sell all kinds of alcohol (mostly beer) and food (italian sausage, chicken kebabs, etc). Bring cash, but not much. Don’t bring anything with you that you wouldn’t mind having stolen, or that’s not attached to you. Normally I wouldn’t wear a money belt, but I’d consider one for this night.

2) DO NOT stand on the pier just under where they shoot off the fireworks (in Plaza Sotomayor). The crowd is large, dense, and dangerous. Men were grabbing me and my boyfriend was right next to me. People were shoving their hands into his pockets, trying to pickpocket him. It’s not worth it, and it was downright scary. If you insist on being this close, be warned.

Oh, we were ready.

3) BUY the cheap plastic champagne glasses and party favors, noisemakers, crazy sunglasses, masks, lucky yellow undies, and other fun stuff from the street merchants all around the city on the 2 days leading up to NYE. They are all pretty cheap and have some fun stuff that you won’t mind losing/breaking/giving away.

4) MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE. Especially at the popular places on the hills, that are booked up weeks in advance. Figure out where you want to eat and bite the bullet, and pay the ridiculous $$$ to do it. At least you’ll have a plan, and you’ll be out of the danger zone down below near the water (of partygoers, broken glass and mischief). We tried to get into Brighton a day in advance, and it was already fully booked.

Valparaiso – one of the squares all dolled up for the holidays

 

 

5) Make sure you have a hostel or hotel booked far in advance. We stayed at our go-to place El Rincón del Marino, which we love because it’s cheap and clean, and the owners are friendly. It’s not the nicest place, but it’s certainly pretty good for the price and in a location with easy access to transit and going to Viña del Mar/up the coast if you have done and seen most of Valparaiso.

6) Buy champagne and alcohol at the supermarket or liquor stores the day before or early that day. You’ll want to bring your own with you if you do decide to brave the crowds and party in the street, and they begin to sell out of stuff pretty quickly the closer it gets to New Year’s eve early evening.

7) If a random Chilean family offers to let you watch the fireworks from their ridiculously large picture windows on Paseo Gervasconi, for the fee of $40 per person without alcohol (and ask that you bring some to share with them), politely decline. It is tempting, but it ain’t worth it. True story.

We did have a great time in Valparaiso, and the Chileans really know how to party. The fireworks are amazing and definitely the most elaborate displays I’ve ever seen, maybe. I’m not sure if it is the same or better than the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks over NYC which I’ve also seen up close and personal… but they’re pretty damn amazing.

The Takeaway:

Just be careful, watch your stuff, and make sure at least one person in your party is sober enough to get you home and out of trouble!

 

Bodegas Twitter Event

A week ago today (Saturday March 26), I was lucky enough to have a ticket to attend a huge winetasting event here in Mendoza called Bodegas Twitter.  The event was a fundraiser for Fundación CONIN, which is a charity that works with underprivileged children.

So why was it called Bodegas Twitter? The entire event was supposedly organized using solely Twitter.  And, if you tweeted from the event using the hashtag #bodegastw , your tweet would be broadcast to the entire party via a giant screen behind the stage.

Bodegas Twitter

Held at the Auditorio Angel Bustelo in downtown Mendoza, the event brought together bodegas all around the Mendoza region (and Patagonia), including some Continue reading

Argentine bachelorette parties & weddings

So, I was lucky enough to already be able to attend an Argentine wedding and bachelorette party (the bachelorette was last weekend and the wedding was last night) since I got here a month ago.  The bride is a coworker/new friend of mine from the States, and the groom is an Argentine.

The bachelorette was pretty much the same as an American one, minus all the penis paraphernalia, veils, sashes, etc. However, in our night out on Arístedes (the main street for restaurants and bars in Mendoza), we were treated to a spectacle that they don’t have in the states: the humiliation of a bachelor at his bachelor party.

This is achieved by putting the lucky bachelor in the back of a pickup truck, stripping him down either naked or putting him in an equally offensive man-thong and driving him down the busiest street in Mendoza at night, honking the horn, playing music, and yelling. I’ve heard that sometimes they stick things in the guy’s um… well… you know. Either way, it’s simultaneously hilarious and appalling.

Weddings here are something else. There’s 2 guestlists: one for the dinner and church and then one for the party, or “casimiento”.  The party STARTS at 11:30pm and often goes till 8am the next day. Unfortunately, I’m lame and only lasted till a little after 3am, but it was fantastic.