Manchester. Not the soccer team.

To much of the world, Manchester is home to one thing: Manchester United FC. For most of my life, I mainly thought of it as home to Manchester Airport. But over the past few years, I’ve discovered that Manchester is surprisingly cool.

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Granted, my family lives next door to a dairy farm, so the simple act of taking a supremely easy train journey and arriving 30 minutes later in a big city is already pretty exciting. But as someone who loves downtown Santiago for its ornate architecture, I especially appreciate Manchester’s gritty buildings and the contrast between old and new. Luckily it would appear that this is a place where cultural revival doesn’t mean knocking down every last bit of history.

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On our last trip to the city, Rodolfo and I had a casual lunch and did a bit of shopping before making our way to the Museum of Science and Industry. This turned out to be a mistake because the MOSI is absolutely fascinating and deserved far more than the 2 hours we had to give to it. We didn’t even make it into all of the galleries.

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What we did manage to learn is that basically everything to ever be discovered or invented happened in Manchester. This city lays claim to both atomic theory and atom splitting, the first railroad, even vegetarianism! And, of course, the first professional football league. Who knew?

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Sadly I do not have a photo of the absolute best thing in all of Manchester and possibly the world: family naan. Akbar’s Indian restaurant is the place to go for a good curry and a naan bread the size of a beach ball, intended to serve the whole family. Google it, seriously. There are plenty of other good restaurants and hip bars, of course, which makes popping up to the city after work a very attractive proposal.

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While Manchester may in many minds always be followed by the word “United,” there’s far more to this city than a sports team.

More fun Manchester facts here.

Here we go again

Well hello there. Obviously it’s been a while. I mean, this is my second post in all of 2014, and that first one was basically phoning it in.

I’ve gotten a few messages asking where I’ve been or why I stopped blogging, and the boring truth is that I’ve just been living life and not feeling like writing. While I’ve had some “successes” like working with companies or meeting people only to find they’ve read my blog before (which yes, is as awkward as it sounds), the fact is that I do this as a hobby because it’s something I enjoy. No inspiration? Close the computer and go do something that sounds more fun!

Most of my blog hiatus had to do with the fact that work was using plenty of my creativity, so I just didn’t have as much to give to personal projects like photo editing or writing. Part of it though, is that like a good little blogger, I followed best practices like responding to all my comments/emails/tweets/Facebook messages in the nicest possible way to make each reader feel special. And that was exhausting.

Now, some of you ARE special. I’ve met great people through the internet and very much enjoy interacting with others I’ll probably never meet. But some people need a good shaking. I am not a robot put here to answer your hopelessly broad (what is Chile like?) or Google-ably specific (how much does the metro cost?) questions, especially not when you can’t even be bothered to read my FAQ first or write your email in a polite tone. The bad apples – and even the good apples on days when I had other, non-blog things to do – made me wonder if maybe I should just pack it all in.

But lately, I’ve been wanting to write again. And since we’ve established that this is a hobby that I do because I enjoy it, here I am. The difference now is that I’m not going to try to pretend to be nice. Guys, I’m not¬†nice. That is not false modesty (and people who know me in real life are laughing at the idea of me being either nice or modest). I am a lot of wonderful things, but across-the-board sunshine-y is not one of them, and I officially give up on trying to fake it just because some “how to be a successful blogger” article told me to.

So, new rules. I’ll try to reply to all substantive comments because I appreciate the time people take to leave them and often have a response. If I don’t get to yours, it’s not you, it’s me. Unless your comment sucked, in which case, evaluate yourself. I will probably not respond to emails because eh, I don’t feel like it most of the time, but I’m keeping my email address listed on here so that the stupid (stupid!) questions continue to go there instead of cluttering the comments of random posts. I will stop resolving to “get better at Facebook”. I’m sort of over Twitter but do reply, and I’m all about the Instagram. I don’t care about SEO or linking to my old posts right now, so eff that too. End of boring policy-making.

On a more positive note, here are some things I’ve done in the past year:

- Went to Lima with friends for the sole purpose of eating. Mission accomplished.

- Went home to California for Thanksgiving. This was so good.

- Went to the Dominican Republic with my husband. Stayed at an all-inclusive resort, thus breaking many promises that I would NEVER do such a thing. It was awesome, and I want to go back.

- Participated in the Crossfit Open. Yes, it’s a cult, and I am a card carrying member. I am also stronger than I ever imagined I could be and basically have to be forced out of the gym every morning because I just want to hang out there with my friends all day.

- Was a bridesmaid in two friends’ weddings. This was also so good.

- Went to New York City, saw friends, showed my husband around for his first visit there. We had a blast.

That’s all that comes to mind, so apparently these were the highlights. Maybe if this inspiration sticks around I’ll tell you about them someday.

A year in Instagram

If you’re on Instagram you’ve probably seen about a million of these already. For those not in the know, spinoff site Statigram lets any Instagram users compile a quick video of their 5 most liked photos from the year. It’s been fun looking back at people’s pictures, and I was intrigued to see which of my shots got the most crowd appreciation.

Since my phone is only slightly more useful than a brick, I can’t post video to Instagram itself, so I figured I’d share here. I’ve clearly lost some blogging momentum in the second half of this year, but you’ll still find me pretty religiously dedicated to Instagram – follow Emily in Chile¬†there or just enjoy this quick summary.

Of my travel photos, Russia and Peru made the cut. Moscow at sunset is certainly deserving of the love, as is a truly top notch lunch at Mercado in Lima that I haven’t gotten around to writing about yet (oops). People love Lola, as they should. And apparently you guys are suckers for a good red lipstick. But perhaps the best part is that since creating this video a few days ago, a new photo has swooped in to take the title of my most-liked picture ever.

Sushi boat

Moral of the story? Travel, cute dogs and hot make-up are all fab, but nothing beats acting like a crazy person with your significant other and delicious food. That sounds like a pretty good takeaway from 2013. Happy New Year!

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