Hi, I’m Lauren! I'm a 24-year-old expat living with a wicked case of wanderlust. Here on my blog, you’ll find everything from travel advice, destination guides, and a ridiculous love for food, to amateur photos, international shopping tips and other random musings.
I’m probably going to get a lot of sh*t for writing this post… but hey, this is my blog, and this is how I feel.
The city of Paris isn’t for me.
I wanted to love Paris. I really did. So much that I’ve been back 3 times to try to make things work. But still, after my most recent visit this past week, I’m left feeling like Paris and I should go our separate ways.
In the travel world- Paris is put on a pedestal.
Paris is the “City of Lights” and the international destination for love. It’s the fashion-forward capital of crunchy baguettes, mouthwatering crepes, stunning tree-lined boulevards and the iconic River Seine.
Still, like I said before, Paris is just personally not for me.
“But WHY, Lauren? What’s not to love?!” I’m glad you asked. And I’ll keep this part short and sweet.
To start, I hate to feed the stereotype further, but Parisian people aren’t overly welcoming (not that us New Yorkers are known for our cheery spirits). On multiple occasions during my trips to Paris, I felt uncomfortable striking up conversation with strangers or as though I was inconveniencing my French acquaintances in one way or another.
Next, the city streets, parks and architecture are almost too pristinely clean and luxurious. I know this high-class regal feel is something that draws many people to Paris- but for me, these bougie, exclusive, “designer” vibes, are a major turn-off.
Lastly, compared to many other European cities, Paris is extremely expensive. Twenty-two smackeroos for a fried egg on top of cheesy toast?! Non, merci!
When it really comes down to it though, the reason I haven’t yet fallen head-over-heels in love with the city of Paris, is, well, just a feeling. Walking the streets of Paris, I’ve never felt fully comfortable. I’ve never felt like I fit in.
It’s not like the way I feel sipping a “cafe con leche” on a terrace in Madrid or rummaging through the bustling markets of Marrakech. Not the way I feel aimlessly wandering along the canals in Amsterdam or watching the summer sun set over the mountains in Santiago.
Paris, although “Paris,” just isn’t for me.
Do I still think you should visit? Absolutely! Don’t take my word for it, it’s simply my opinion. Actually, I think a lot of my friends out there reading this post would strongly disagree, and urge you to book a ticket ASAP. After all, there are quite a few reasons to love Paris- its art scene, colorful culture and influential history, the romantic sound of the French language and my personal favorites- cheese, crepes, and macaroons. (I had to end on a positive note.)
Is there any place you’ve visited and really tried to like, but that place just simply didn’t do it for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Without a doubt, Chile is a beautiful country. The scenery is stunning, the cities enchanting and the people are some of the friendliest around. It’s also well known for its red wine and other culinary delicacies. With so many reasons to visit Chile, did you know that the country is also considered one of the best for casino gaming in South America?
Casino gaming came into existence in Chile around 1852, and despite ups and downs, it remains accessible to the masses. There are now 25 casinos in Chile, and you can find at least one in nearly every major city. Horse racing and sports betting are also popular, and Chile even has a national lottery.
It almost goes without saying that the casino industry is good for tourism, and the country has long-term plans to continue development in this area. Before 2005, there were just seven casinos, but now this number has increased to 25. There are also around 40 applications in progress for new casino and gaming licenses, though it is unclear how many will be approved and built in the future.
New casinos built in recent years include the Oceania Marina Casino in Valparaiso in 2011, as well as the Casino Marina del Sol in Calama, Ovalle Casino Resort and Casino Arica Luckia, all built in 2016 and 2017. The trend is moving toward the creation of new casinos and resorts.
Casino gaming in Chile is very much like elsewhere in the world. As such, there is always casino etiquette, and each casino will often have dress codes that you should be aware of before visiting. Additionally, in Chile, it is normal to pay an entrance fee to the casino that you wouldn’t usually find with a casino in America or Europe. It’s usually around a couple of dollars.
You may also find that most staff in the casinos don’t speak English. Again, this is normal for casinos in Chile, even in more touristy areas like Vina del Mar. A little Spanish will go a long way in these situations, though you will be able to get by if you don’t speak the language.You can find casinos in Chile in cities such as Pucón, Coquimbo, Antofagasta and Santa Cruz, but Valparaíso is the region to find the most and the best casinos in the land. The Valparaíso region has three casinos, while other cities tend only to have one or two at the most.
In Valparaiso city, you can find the small gaming house called Coffee Game, but for the best and oldest casino in Chile, head up the coast towards Viña del Mar. First, is the original Vina Del Mar Casino, which is one of the biggest in South America with 90+ tables and 1,500+ machines, attracting over 8,000 players per night! Onsite, there is also an Enjoy Hotel complex with nightclubs, shows, restaurants, and accommodations. You can also find the Casino Municipal in the same town.
Though the Vina Del Mar is arguably still the best casino in Chile, a new arrival is in the spotlight. The Sun Monticello Casino and Hotel opened in late 2009 and now takes around a quarter of all casino revenue in the country. It is sophisticated, stylish and modern, offering 80+ tables games and nearly 2,000 game machines, as well as gourmet restaurants, bars, a five-star hotel, spa and much more.
Game selection is similar throughout most of Chile’s casinos. Expect to find plenty of slots machines, roulette tables, blackjack and more. Smaller casinos are likely to hold occasional poker tournament, while larger casinos like the Vina Del Mar will hold tournaments and cash games on a regular if not daily basis. In that respect, you can always enjoy a game wherever you are in Chile, but if you want the most exquisite experiences, head to the Vina Del Mar or the Sun Monticello. Enjoy, and always play responsibly!
If I’m being honest, this wasn’t an easy list to make.
Finding the best burgers in Santiago took a lot of research, a lot of commitment and a lot of belt loosening.
But who am I kidding… I enjoyed every minute and every bite…
Lucky for me burgers are all the rage in Santiago right now. And yes, I’ve realized that Chileans are a few years late on the burger train. But hey, I’m not complaining.
A few weeks ago I decided to challenge myself to find the best burgers in the city and asked my fellow expats over in the Discover Chile Facebook Group for their expert recommendations. Well, let’s just say, I never expected to get so many!! This project took way longer than I thought- I had a long list of burgers to try- but I’m happy to say I finally made it through the majority of my list.
I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list over time, and I’m also sure I missed a few key spots, but for now, I’m pretty confident (& happily satisfied) with what I’ve found. I’ve even become a repeat offender at a few of these joints.
Here are my top burger picks in Santiago:La Maestranza
La Maestranza isn’t the easiest place to get to, but their burgers are worth going out of your way for- the chefs in this place don’t mess around. If you’re a gourmet burger lover who enjoys the full experience, ie. a chic setting, trendy beverages, and quality service- you’ll easily fall in love with La Maestranza.
My Burger Pick: ‘La Maestra Sexy’- a grass-fed beef burger filled with Philadelphia cream cheese and topped with cheddar cheese jalepeños, bacon, caramelized onions, greens and drizzled with a sweet raspberry sauce.
On the topic of gourmet burgers, let’s quickly talk about La Burguesía. This restaurant is a favorite among Santiaguinos, and I have to admit, they’re on to something. While Chileans, in general, haven’t proven to be the most adventurous eaters I’ve encountered, the menu at La Burguesía definitely pushes the boundaries, and it seems to have worked.
With inventive creations and fun names to go along with them, there’s sure to be a burger to fit every taste.
My Burger Pick: ‘Grillada’- a burger served between two grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches, topped with bacon, caramelized onion, blue cheese, a beer BBQ sauce, and mayo.
Note: The chefs at La Burguesía tend to cook their burgers pretty rare, so if you don’t like your meat near bloody, be sure to tell your waiter medium to well-done.
So I have to admit, no one suggested Aleman Experto to me. This one made the list because the first time I tried to go to La Burguesía the wait was ridiculously long and my stomach was already growling. Cue the restaurant right next door- Aleman Experto.
Their burgers aren’t quite as ‘put together’ as their infamous counterpart, but this place really surprised me! Not a half bad alternative, dare I say it, maybe even just as good…
My Burger Pick: ‘The Suprema Experto’- burger topped with cheddar cheese, pickles, onion rings, bacon, BBQ sauce and a touch of peanut butter.
I know what you’re thinking- how on Earth did Carl’s Jr make it on to this list … BUT, one of my readers challenged me to give them a fair try, and I have to say, as far as burgers go, Carl’s JR ain’t half bad. Especially as far as fast food goes…
If you’re in a rush or simply looking for a low-cost option, stop at one of these joints.
My Burger Pick: ‘The Guacamole Bacon burger’- charbroiled Angus beef patty topped with guacamole, bacon, pepper-Jack cheese, Santa Fe sauce, red onions, tomato and lettuce on a seeded bun.
*Low carb options available with lettuce wraps instead of a bread bun.
California Cantina is one of the only true American sports bars you’ll find in Santiago. It’s owned by a California-born gringo, so you can trust this place knows its burgers. If you’re looking to enjoy your meal among other (American) football fans or simply just in the mood for some classic US-style comfort food, this is the spot for you.
My Burger Pick: ‘Chula Vista’- a Beef burger topped with cheese, shrimp, calamari, ‘Baja’ green mix, cilantro, and Ranch.
Like Cali Cantina above, Uncle Fletch is another typical Gringo hangout with two extremely popular locations in Santiago. It’s got a great social atmosphere and the restaurant is styled like a high-end American sports bar. They offer an awesome selection of beers (often with new varieties to try) and their menu heavily relies on their authentic juicy and savory burgers. They also serve some pretty hefty portions, so plan to get a bang for your buck!
My Burger Pick: ‘The Julia Child Burger’- 175g beef burger topped with arugula, goat cheese, eggplant zucchini and red onion ratatouille, sun-dried tomatoes and ‘Julia Child’ sauce served on sesame seed Brioche bun.
*Veggie and low carb options available with lettuce wraps instead of a bread bun.
The best way I can describe StreatBurger is a mix between Shake Shack and Cali’s beloved ‘In and Out’ – just your classic, all American hamburger. Their burgers are exactly what the name suggests- street-style and in my opinion, damn delicious.
My Burger Pick: ‘Blue Burger’- beef burger topped with blue cheese, arugula, grilled onions and Streat Burger’s own mayo. Oh and I’d definitely order a side of their cheddar bacon fries.
Average Burger Price: $5.000
Locations: Avenida Isidora Goyenechea 3199, Las Condes and a second location at Parque Arauco
La Antojería might not look like much from the outside, but don’t let that steer you away. In my opinion, their burgers are some of the best in town, not to mention they boast one of the most impressive beer menus I’ve seen so far in Santiago. They also value presentation which is easily noted in their popular ‘Gringa Segunda’ burger- served on a plate piled high with huge crispy onion rings!
My Burger Pick: ‘Gringa Segunda’- Freshly made beef burger topped with bacon, bbq sauce, spicy onion rings and cheddar cheese. (Be warned- this thing is MASSIVE)
Franklin is a bit of a trek from Central Santiago, but I promise after you taste these juicy burgers, you’ll be happy you made the journey. Franklin is a food truck located inside a bigger food court style establishment, and even though it’s only open on the weekends from 12-6, this place makes a KILLING. Seriously, if you’d like to eat your burger within a reasonable time frame, get there a few minutes before this place even opens. Otherwise, expect a lengthy line.
My Burger Pick: ‘Picante’- beef burger topped with hot sauce, lettuce, Chilean mantecoso cheese, picked ají pepper, red onion, and pickles.
Average Burger Price: $6.000 with fries and a drink.
Location: Ing Obrecht 2119, Santiago- Barrio Franklin, inside La Persa Flea Market
When I arrived at the Burger Truck, the first thing I noticed was their interesting setup. They serve high end fast food-style burgers, with a food truck atmosphere complete with picnic tables and string lights, all built into a fixed establishment. Pretty cool.
Their burgers may not be the biggest or the fanciest, but if you’re in the area and looking for a fast meal, they’re just about perfect.
My Burger Pick: ‘Españolisima’- a beef burger topped with cheddar cheese, roasted peppers, sauteed spinach, egg and crispy onions.
Average Burger Price: $7.200
Locations: The rooftop food court of Mall Alto Las Condes, Mall Plaza Los Dominicos and Azotea Urbana at Plaza Engaña.
I immediately fell in love with Bravo 951’s social Biergarten-like atmosphere! Their understated industrial decor, creative list of cocktails and delicious burgers plates, generous enough to share, make for the perfect night out with friends.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that their service could use some improvement, but if you’re looking for a spot with great music, good food, and a hip modern ambiance, look no further.
My Burger Pick: ‘Famosa de Queso Cheddar’- Burger filled with cheddar cheese, with onions cooked in red wine, grilled mushrooms, watercress and drizzled with a creamy blue cheese sauce.
Average Burger Price: $9.000
Location: Bravo, 951 in Providencia. [Hence the name]
Loom is a Bellavista brewpub built into an old converted house, specializing in craft beer and burgers. It’s a funky spot for after work drinks, and they happen to have a pretty impressive offering of burgers to accompany their extensive list of domestic and imported beers.
My Burger Pick: ‘Hawaii’- a 200-gram beef burger topped with grilled pineapples, bacon cheddar cheese, and red cabbage kraut.
I just wouldn’t feel right leaving out one of my new favorite vegan restaurants in Santiago- Adhana. Yes, I said Vegan. Am I Vegan? I think it’s pretty obvious from this list that I’m the furthest thing from it. Still, this place is worth a mention.
Never in my life did I imagine that a veggie-heavy burger could be so satisfying. I can safely say that Adhana belongs in the running with the above beef burgers- EASY.
Don’t believe me? I wasn’t always a believer either. You’ll just have to taste them for yourself.
My burger pick: ‘Spicy Burger’- Black bean and quinoa burger served on beat bread with red cabbage, avocado, alfalfa sprouts and drizzled with dijon mustard, Adhana’s own spicy sauce, and homemade smooth cashew butter.