"Don't get drunk before you get on the plane." Chance would be a fine thing.
I'm sensible at Schiphol. Limiting myself to a medium Heineken - not super cold - and a double Jamesons. So far so good.
It's yonks since I was last in Charles de Gaulle. I'd forgotten how shit it was. Like Alphaville without the laughs. And I’ve five hours to kill there. I was really paranoid about missing the connection and deliberately left myself several hours.
There's nothing as normal as a bar at the terminal I'm in. Tell a lie, there is a caviar and champagne bar. Hardly any food options, either. I end up eating at Yo Sushi. It’s OK, but not great. And by waiting between plates I can run down the clock. I have a couple of beers. Which are pretty ridiculously expensive.
With a few hours still to kill, I resort to getting in a few cans of Kronenbourg 1664 in a shop. And sit glumly at my gate sipping them and reading Private Eye.
The flight is over 14 hours. But there are films to watch and I’ve got loads of legroom. I even manage to squeeze in a couple of hours of fitful sleep. Definitely better than getting none.
When I’ve passed immigration and picked up my bag, I walk through to landside. There’s a huge scrum around the exit. So much that I have to push my way through. Eventually I spot a bloke with a beard holding up a card with my name on it. He’s got Stan Hieronymus and John Roberts, owner of Max’s Lager in Atlanta, with him.
The driver walks incredibly quickly, despite carrying some of our bags. I struggle to keep up with him. But soon we’re speeding through the suburbs, bound for our hotel in Providencia, a posh part of the city. It’s a lovely, sunny day with a clear azure sky. Unless you look closer to the horizon, where it has a brownish hue. Smog is a problem due to the city’s location in a valley surrounded by mountains.
I lost the back of my watch at some point during the flight. I repair it with a piece of my business card and selotape while checking in. The selotape makes the dial hard to read, but at least it’s a functioning watch. I’ll need it as there’s no clock in my room.
We have a wander. The area is pretty posh. Avenue Lyon is closed to car traffic for part of Sunday and it’s full of bikes and pedestrians. Looks a bit like Vondel Park on a Saturday.
We find a corner shop and I buy a bottle of Kuntsmann Pale Ale.
"What are the rules on street drinking here?"
I take a chance and guzzle as we walk. It's pretty hot and it slips down a treat.
It's before midday and nowhere is open. But a dodgy looking bloke with missing teeth and a high-vis jacket comes over and introduces himself. It's a tense moment. He asks me something in Spanish and I pick out the word "mujer". He's asking me if I want a woman. It's 11:30 on a Sunday. Got to admire his sense of enterprise. I politely decline.
We find a cafe. Stan has a monster ice cream. Me and John have a cappuccino. And I have a sandwich, too. It’s a bit bland, if I’m honest. But the sweet offerings look good. Dolores would love the cakes here.
Finally we find a pub that's open, El Hapetito, with a very friendly young barmaid. Who speaks no English. We've seen a "Cerveza artesenal" sign outside and manage to order 3 half litres of Pale Ale. We don’t linger after finishing them. A half is enough for me at this point.
I'm a bit limpy on the return to our hotel. Damn these new shoes.
I’m told Kristen is in a pub. Rather than head off there, I rest. Recuperating for a couple of hours. And showering. After 25 hours travelling, I really need a shower. And a whisky. Lagavullin, for a change.
There’s a meeting to explain the judging system in the evening. It’s at Flannery’s Beerhouse, an Irish pub not far from the hotel. I walk down there with Stan and John. They have smart phones so can navigate the way. No need for me to worry with paper maps.
Our route is leafy and suburban, be it mostly in the form of flats.
We’re quite early and few others are there. Inside, it’s been quite nicely done. Without too much folksy Irish crap.
The meeting is in the upstairs bar. We head up there, but as it’s pretty hot, we move outside to the roof terrace, which is a very pleasant temperature. Kristen arrives wearing some godawful gaudy shorts and socks. I didn’t realise he’d gone blind.
“A pint of Stout, please.”
“Sorry, that’s run out.”
What? An Irish pub with no Stout? I get an IPA instead. The beers come from the owner’s other business, the Tubinger brewery, which is located about an hour outside the city.
After Felipe Pizarro, one of the organisers, has explained the judging method in Spanish and English, there’s a buffet. I’m not that hungry and limit myself to a few chips. I’m starting to run out of steam.
We walk back to the hotel after a few more beers. Where I finish the day with a tot of Lagavullin. Sweet.
I think I’m going to enjoy this trip.
Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery
320 Peachtree St NE,
Avda Providencia 1344, P
Tel: +56 2 2235 1326
Providencia, Región Metropolitana.
Tel: +56 2 2303 0197
My trip was paid for by Copa Cervezas de América
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