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Last year I went to TBEX Dublin and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then my laptop got stolen a week later and I couldn't do anything for nearly two months. This year I went to TBEX Athens and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then I came home a few days later and threw myself into jet lag and my new old job....

Athens, Greece, is one of those cities, like Santiago, where most people only spend a night, maybe two, or skip it altogether, and say it's not worth going. They say it's just another big city, they say it's boring or dangerous or lame. It's one of those cities people write off. I had a week to spend in Athens and everyone asked why I was going. And then everyone asked if I was going to the islands. For a conference. And no....

In my travel plan, that one I made in June and almost immediately abandoned, I had thought to return to Spain after three months in South America. I wanted to spend some time there. At least a month, hopefully three, longer if that damned visa didn't exist. I first went to Spain in 2011, a month into what turned into my 15-month, or three year, depending on how you look at it, 'round the world trip. Spain was a turning point. ...

"Santiago is just another big city." That's what everyone would tell me when they said they went for just a night or two before moving on or skipped it altogether. "It's just another big city," they'd say. "It's boring," they'd say. But I had already decided that Santiago would be where I'd spend my last ten days in Chile, in South America. I was nervous. People made me nervous. Everyone had me thinking that I was making the wrong choice. Maybe I should have decided to spend more time in Valle de Elqui. Maybe I should have decided to go down south....

Every time I was buzzed into my hostel in Valparaiso, Chile, the woman at the front desk would ask me, "A dónde fuiste?": "Where did you go?" "Solo caminar," I'd say. "Just for a walk." Valparaiso is a walking city. Street art covers most of the edifices, every inch of blank space. Around every corner there is some new drawing to see. You can spend hours just walking, observing. It's actually illegal to write on the walls in Valparaiso. But homeowners can give permission to artists to paint on their homes, and do so because they would rather have artwork there than a...

I was taking the photos above when a man tapped my shoulder and pointed across the plaza. A parade of people were walking by, clapping, singing, followed by three cars decorated in orange balloons. I moved away to be closer and, as they walked by, saw that the first of the cars was carrying a coffin. A funeral procession was leading its way through Plaza de Armas. The parade stopped in front of the sculpture I had just been taking photos of. The cars stopped. People gathered around to remove the coffin and set it up. ...

By the time I reached La Serena, Chile, I was feeling a little burnt out. In Bolivia I had traveled a little quicker than I like to. I saw a lot of places, amazing places, but no where I could stay for more than a few days. So I moved. A lot. I meant to stay just one night in La Serena and use it as a jumping point to explore the Valle de Elqui region of Chile. But I just didn't feel like getting on more buses. So I stayed in La Serena for three nights. And I took just...

I'm fascinated by the stars. Mostly, I suppose, because I'm a city girl and I don't get to see them that often. Chicago is filled with big building and lots of light. I'm lucky if I can see a handful at a time. So I was beyond excited when I read about SPACE — San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations — in my guidebook. SPACE is the largest public observatory in Chile and every night they host tours. I booked an 11pm tour which had me whining beforehand because making plans for late at night makes me just want to...

My Salar de Uyuni tour dropped me off in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. It's a small town near the border and while there isn't much to do in town, tours around the area abound. I spent an afternoon on the most popular tour: Valle de Luna, or Moon Valley. We made a few stops to check out the death valley landscape before heading into Valle de Luna and climbing to the top of the hill. The main draw is sunset. Not just watching the sun set behind a hill but turning around and watching the pink and purple and...