Tuesday, June 16, 2015 Santiago, Chile
20 metro stops and a super crushed minibus ride away from our hostel, we have discovered that the much-hyped Maipo Valley wine tour is full today unless you have a pre-booked reservation. Of course we haven't. Fail. You'd think the plonker working at the hostel who sent us here might be aware of such eventualities. However, my hungover Swiss friends are not so easily defeated and 'plan b' involves two more local minibuses and a trip out from the edge of Santiago into the unknown of the 'real' wine valley.
It is beautiful out here in the tourist-free wilds: hectares and hectares of vines with the stunning backdrop of the Andes close by; some peaks now painted with a sprinkling of snow. We've managed to make it to Santa Licia, home to prize-winning wines for the past couple of years including its incredibly smooth Chardonnay, voted the best white wine in all of Chile.
We are all feeling quite smug as an epic fail is turned into a hard-fought victory...but wait...Santa Licia doesn't do wine tours. Fail.
Let's look at the pluses though: we do get to see inside the mock tudor estate building and have a little wander around looking at the massive collection of wine being stored in massive oak barrels and in the hundreds of wine racks. It is quite a classy place, like one of those homes that the characters in cheesy South American soap operas live, where everyone is exceptionally beautiful but absurdly-moody drama queens. And Dominic buys a bottle of their finest red and their award-winning white, so that we can do the wine-tasting bit back in the street-side hostel garden later.
On our complicated route back, it is highlight-of-the-day time as a young crooner gets on our Baquerdano-bound metro train and bangs out two haunting Chilean ballads on the microphone, along with a superb rendition of Elvis Presley's I can't help falling in love with you. It's like Chile's Got Talent vs Metro Karaoke Challenge. This boy is absolute class and has the four Swiss and the Englishman singing along to giggles and frowns from the other commuters.
Dinner is Argentina v Uruguay on a gorgeous rooftop terrace bar in classy Barrio Lastarria. All is going well until we discover our waiter for the evening is the silliest man in Chile. He also looks silly: like a cross between a Saint Bernard's dog and former Iraqi baddie Tarek Aziz. It takes some doing to cock things up to this degree with the meals and the drinks. So much so in fact, that you have to quietly like the guy for blagging a paid job. I also love him for asking for 'a 10% suggested tip' of almost 10 euro at the end of his circus performance.
It's a fitting end to fail day for me, especially with the news that Arturo Vidal has written off his sports car, drink-driving and almost killing his girlfriend, after playing in that 3-3 against Mexico. Fail, fail, fail.