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AC Exec First, LAN, a visit to THE Inca Village, skiing & private wine tours in Chile

AC Exec First, LAN, a visit to THE Inca Village, skiing & private wine tours in Chile

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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:44 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
AC Exec First, LAN, a visit to THE Inca Village, skiing & private wine tours in Chile

Air Canada Executive First, LAN Economy, with a visit to THE Inca Village, skiing in August at Valle Nevado, with a side trip to the Maipo Wine Valley Chile.

Introduction:


This trip started with Ms World Traveller 73’s desire to visit Macchu Pichu in Peru. Indeed it was somewhere that I had always been interested in seeing, but wasn’t too high on the list. For me, it was sort of like Hawaii or Thailand, until I actually traveled to both of those places and ended up loving them both. We started making plans and with some convincing, I was able to talk her into a second leg of the trip down to Santiago Chile for some skiing and wine tours. This Trip Report ended up being a bit longer than I thought, so settle in for a bit of a read.

We booked the trip on www.AC.com into a Tango Plus Fare. I chose the flights so that we would have 2 and a half hours in Toronto to change planes and experience my favorite Maple Leaf Lounge (MLL) the YYZ International Lounge. We used e-upgrades to upgrade to executive class, which were cleared at the 4 day window in each direction.

YVR-YYZ AC1132
Executive Class (J)
Boeing 767
Scheduled: 7:00 AM / Actual: 9:15 AM


On our departure date, I woke up at 3;45 AM in the morning to find a flight notification on my phone that the plane had been delayed 1 hr 10 minutes. A bit of a groan was to be had here – we certainly would have appreciated the extra sleep.

We went to the airport at the normal time. At 5:30 AM, there was no line at the executive class check in at YVR. Having been through here regularly as our home airport, I have always found it to be a bit dark and disappointing compared to other stands in the world.



My bag weighed 57 lbs (full of ski clothes and boots) and was given a heavy tag. She forgot the priority tag although Ms World Traveller 73 got one and I didn’t raise a fuss about it. The service was quite genuine given the early morning hour. There was no line at security and no fast track at 5:45 AM.

There wasn’t much happening on the concourse. We went to the domestic MLL lounge. Again, the entrance here isn’t too grand; a discreet door behind faux granite. It has been refurbished in the last 2 years but isn’t too exciting. It seemed to have less on offer these days for breakfast. Toast, yoghurt and juice, coffee and espressos.







After our one hour delay, we left the windows of the lounge and headed to the gate. The aircraft was here and parked at the one of the swing gates in Vancouver which allows for international arrivals / departures if they so chose. It was parked next to a Boeing 777 on AC34, which served SYD-YVR-YYZ.

Thanks to the delay, there were stacks of people waiting around. With two AC flights to Toronto leaving within one hour of each other, there were several people in the wrong holding area waiting for AC34 in the AC 1132 area.



The flight was delayed again for another 35 minutes to 9:15 AM, now 1 hr 45 mins off schedule. All the staff were very apologetic. I was seeing my lounge time in Toronto sadly evaporate before my eyes.

We finally boarded and were taken on board. This plane had the standard international executive pods. A lot has been said on this forum about the rough condition of the AC J pods but I didn’t notice any damage or scuffing. . The plane was fully loaded in J with 24 out of 24 seated in a 1-1-1 configuration. We were seated in 1A and 2A, which was a little hard to talk to each other. My partner also found 1A quite noisy over the course of the flight with the galley and washroom right next door to it.

A pre-take off drink was quickly served. Given amount of trip reports that I had read here about first and business class, and the cost of executive class, I was a little surprised to see it served in a clear plastic cup. No alcohol was served, just a choice of juice or water.



There were no menus provided. Instead we were given a verbal choice between an omelet and pancakes. Orders were taken by Top Tier status (hopstotching), then 1 A to 8 A then 1 F, K 2, FK etc. Orders were taken on ground. Meal service started 1 hr after takeoff.

I was able to spy a menu in the galley later on in the flight and was able to get a copy:

Sliced seasonal fruit

Yogurt



Parsley omelet with chicken sausage, cottage cheese, roasted red skin potatoes and red pepper relish



Or

Pancakes with maple butter, chicken sausage, and cran-apple compote
Warm brads with butter and preserves

Freshly brewed Second Cup coffee or a selection of tea and herbal teas (served with milk, cream or lemon)

Oatmeal raisin and dark chocolate chip cookies baked fresh on board will be served with gourmet vanilla ice cream prior to landing.



A cocktail snack and full selection of beverages are available at all times throughout your flight.

When we reached cruising altitude, an on board passenger announcement from the Service Director indicated that the delay in aircraft was due to no water working on board. They had attempted to service it in Honolulu and Vancouver but were unsuccessful. Therefore they had no coffee or tea on board. I started laughing at the horrified looks of people around me in J. The flight attendant noticed my smile and told me not to worry- that they had coffee up in J. I believe they had made it using bottled water.

I started to get a bit concerned about our connection during our approach for landing. We were a good two hours behind schedule by this time. The service director had announced that staff would be on hand to handle the missed connections and we didn’t appear to have made up any time. I was extra concerned as our YYZ-LIM flight only operated 4 times a week, and we had missed the flight today, we would have to wait another 3 days for the next one.

We arrived on the apron at YYZ, where an announcement was made that our assigned gate was unavailable. Another 20 minute wait on the apron. I turned on my phone but hadn’t received any notice or flight notification about our connection.

We deplaned at 5:30 PM, with our connecting flight scheduled to depart at 5: 30 PM. I looked for these agents that were supposedly helping with the connections but the arrival gate podiums were completely empty. We started our brisk walk / jog on the sometimes broken travellators over to the international terminal. We stopped by the domestic Customer Service desk on our way to let them know that we were running for our flight, but they really appeared in different and were unaware of the situation. We didn’t waste any further time. I was looking for one of the famed AC concierges to help us out, but they were nowhere to be found.

We made it over to the international terminal. The information on the departure boards at 5:45 PM still showed the flight as departing as 5:35 PM, but not as departed. I got a flight notification on my phone that the flight had been delayed to 6:00 PM. We didn’t have any time for duty free or the lounge sadly, just a quick snapshot of the sculpture there seen in a few Air Canada Commercials. I didn’t have time to walk through in slow motion like they do on the TV either…



We arrived to the international gate and discovered a fully loaded aircraft. Is it a good thing not to have to fight with anyone standing in the boarding area to get on board? We squeaked on as the last 2 out of 4 persons who were also connecting from Vancouver on our flight.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Nov 2, 14 at 10:47 am
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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:47 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
YYZ-LIM AC080
Executive First (J)
Boeing 767
Scheduled 5:35 PM / Actual: 6:00PM




The doors were closed immediately after we had boarded. We were on the same 1-1-1 seating configuration. There were 12/24 in J cabin. I had booked us into the back of the J cabin in row 7 for a bit more privacy, but other passengers moved around into the seats next to us, in addition to crew who slept behind us in row 8. I think that the best seats for a couple traveling together on the 767 are 8 J and 8 K, as they are the most private when the curtain is closed.

That’s the sign of a happy person:



There was no pre-drink given to us on the ground due to our late boarding of the aircraft.

There were no amenity kits waiting for us. I believe that they passed these out individually during the pre-flight service. As we were not there for that, we missed out. Eventually mid flight, we got the kits and a menu. The kits contained eye shades, ear plugs, socks, tooth brush and toothpaste. The kits were best described as a throw way aside from the functional items.





Dinner:

Appetizer

Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Cucumber Capriccio, Dill Mustard Sauce and capers.

Salad:

Organic field greens, Grape Tomatoes and Parmesan, served with Balsamic Vinaigrette.



Main courses:

Grilled AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin, presented with Truffle and Porcini Mushroom Sauce, Celeriac Yukon Gold Dauphinoise Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cherry Tomato Confit.



Roasted Chicken filled with Butternut Squash and Cranberry accompanied by Madeira Mushroom Sauce, Manitoba While Rice and Roasted Peppers.

Sautéed Alaskan Black Cod offered with Lemon Butter, Spinach Risotto, Green Beans and glazed baby carrots.

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Mozzarella and Ricotta complemented by Basil Tomato Sauce

A selection of warm fresh Breads with Butter.

Selection of Cheese:

Camembert, Yellow Cheddar and Oka served with crackers



Choice of Desserts:

Warm Chocolate Pecan Tart
Sliced Seasonal Fruit.

Pre Arrival Light Meal:

Turkey and Gruyere Croque Monsieur Half with grilled vegetables



Freshly baked cookies.

The following wines were available
:

Champagne:

Champagne Drappier Carte D’Or – Brut

White:

Paua Bay Marlborough Sauvingon Blanc, New Zealand
Henry of Pelham Reserve Chardonnay, Niagra, Canada

Red:

MAN Vinters Pinotage, Paarl, South Africa
Domaine Nicole, Coteaux de Bessiles, France

Port:

Dow’s Port, Portugal.

The Service Director Claude provided excellent service. Since we had missed the first drink order, they offered one drink order for whole main course.

There was a beautiful sunset on the way down.





I slept after the meal until the equator and was lucky enough to pull up the map as we crossed into the southern hemisphere.



We landed in Lima, Peru. Again there was no spot available for the arriving aircraft. We waited another 25 minutes on the runway while they sorted things out.

We cleared immigration without issue. We went to the baggage belt and for some strange reason our bags were the last two put out on the belt. I was thankful that they made it, considering they were likely the last ones placed in the hold due to our 30 minute connection in Toronto, but I was a little puzzled as to why they were the last ones out. I was thinking that they would be the last boarded, given our tight connection.



As we walked towards the Customs green / red light inspection, Ms World Traveller73 noticed that stuff was missing from the front and rear zippered area of her bags. She had placed underwear and scarves in this area inside zipped Hey’s soft luggage packing cubes. Ms World Traveller was not impressed – as she had lost some scarves from Bursa, Turkey that we had bought on one of our last trips. We had one of life’s brief lessons here as we figured out our options.

Not expecting much action, I looked around for baggage services to report the “misplaced” items, but there were no obvious counters, aside from an agricultural inspection and customs.

We went through Customs and attempted to locate a baggage representative on the public side. We eventually found a phone which connected us to ground staff. The AC check-in desks were all empty since they were likely boarding the return aircraft on the secure side. We reported the loss of these articles and the person on the other end asked us to meet him at the check in desks and to “hurry up” to get there.

We eventually met up with “Donald” who was wearing the familiar AC glacier blue shirt with navy blue vest uniform. He escorted Ms World Traveller 73 into the back on the secure side to “look” for the articles.

By some surprise, the articles were actually located on the empty belt. It was somewhat surprising, since I had written them off as stolen, never to be seen again. It was impossible by their design that they had slipped out of the cases. They had obviously been removed and perhaps with the threat that people were on the hunt for them, thrown out on the belt and abandoned when the search was on. With the bags in hand, she learned a valuable lesson about the opportunities in some parts of the world.

We had booked a Monograms Tour “Discovery of Peru” which was a 7 day adventure through Lima, up to Cuzco, a tour of the Sacred Valley and then 2 days at Machu Picchu. The tour involved local hosts so the travel was independent, with persons meeting us at each end to send us on our tours.

Lima was a city of contrasts. The area around the airport was quite desolate and impoverished. However the inner city around the Plaza de Armas was beautifully restored and maintained. I found it more enjoyable and better maintained than some of the other Latin American cities.





The cathedral just off the Plaza de Armas contained a catacomb that was supposed to have the skeletons and remains of 70,000 persons! It was spooky. I snuck this photo when I wasn’t supposed to. It was almost completely dark.



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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:51 am
  #3  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
LAN PERU 2035 LIM-CUZ
Economy (Y)
Airbus 319
Scheduled: 11:40 AM / Actual: 11:40 AM


Soon our tour took us to Cuzco. I had read lots of stories about the Cuzco airport so I was eagerly looking forward to our flight. We had booked this air travel part of the tour separately. I had attempted to book on www.taca.com but had lots of difficulty completing the transaction, and lots of two tier (Peruvian resident only) fares. In the end I gave up an booked on LAN Peru via their website.

The boarding for the LAN flights was quite organized chaos. The LAN check-in desks were separated into National flights (South American flights) and USA. Check in was mandatory using a kiosk, then a line up to weigh and drop the bags. LAN was strict on the bag weight and I had to remove a ski boot to come under the 50 lbs limit. The lines were everywhere with people cutting in for no particular reason to only 3 check in agents.





The flight itself was a quick hop lasting almost an hour. We got a small snack box and a drink.







The approach into Cuzco was neat as the plane flew into the valley and banked a large left turn. The baggage area was a small two or three belt area designed for smaller aircraft so it was a little chaotic was we collected our bags. Security was quick with no delay and no immigration as it was a domestic flight.

Cuzco & The Sacred Valley:



Central Cuzco itself was a wonderful little city. I had expected a really touristy town, but it did keep some of its charm. We stuck to the touristed areas and ventured around to some ruins outside on day tours.







The Ollantaytambo Ruins were a highlight – fabulous ruins in the Sacred Valley that you could spend an afternoon exploring. No railings with a long drop down so watch your children!





Machu Picchu:

The highlight was Machu Picchu itself. We stayed in Aquas Calientes overnight, which is the closest town to Macchu Picchu and was able to catch the site after all the day tours had left. I’d highly recommend this for anyone who wants good pictures as seeing it at sunrise and sunset with different weather made for a memorable experience.









Cuzco has many ruins around the area and similar to the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza, the main attraction of Machu Picchu seems to steal all the thunder. We spent some time checking out the smaller ruins as well, which was neat to see.

I call these guys and girls "The Guardians",

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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:54 am
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Posts: 4,161

LAN PERU 2020 CUZ-LIM
Economy (Y)
Airbus 319
Scheduled: 12:20 PM / Actual: 12:20 PM




We arrived at the airport for our return flight. I had heard some horror stories here about flights being cancelled due to the elevation of the Cuzco airport, but aside from this sign, I didn’t really notice anything untoward.



The check in was the same mess as Lima, but on a much smaller scale. Despite being a large tourist attraction, the amenities at the Cuzco airport were nowhere near as nice as the Lima airport.



There wasn’t much on offer on the public side except a priority pass lounge. We waited on the public square outside while waiting for our flight. There were the usual souvenir stalls across the parking lot, which opened at 10 AM for those last minute souvenirs. Ms World Traveller 73 bought a small ceramic pair of pigs that commonly adorn the roofs of Peruvian homes for good luck. There is a joke in there somewhere but I didn’t dare. Boarding was through an outdoor ramp, which I always find more fun than an air conditioned hallway.





When we arrived back in Lima, the lock on Ms World Travellers 73’s checked bag was broken clean off. Strike two! There was no damage to the zipper, so it was either cut off or got snagged on a belt as it passed through. Fortunately, nothing was taken this time either. We didn’t file a report.

LAN 2631 LIM-SCL
Economy (Y)
Airbus 319
Scheduled: 11:50 AM / Actual: 12:20 AM


The next day, we were headed for Santiago. We returned to the Lima airport from Miraflores area to a massive check in line. We checked ourselves in using the kiosk again and joined the baggage drop line. We arrived at 9:30 AM for 11:50 AM flight. It did take us 30 minutes to do bag drop due to again only 3 desks being open and group blocking most one wicket. There were status lines and separate USA lines of two wickets each. However, they did not help with the regular line when the counters were empty.

When we made it to the front, I was asked to pay 70 USD for my one bag that was overweight by 4 kg. I removed 2 ski boots from each of our bags and attached them to our backpacks and they eventually accepted the bags at 1.5 kg over weight (23 K each) loaded together on the scale for a total weight reading. The line was so long that our guide for the day (that said he was going to be waiting around for us after check in), disappeared, never to be seen again.

A bit of a side story here. Earlier in the week, I had received an email stating that our return flight from SCL-LIM had been retimed from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM. It actually said that it was delayed, but it turned out to be a schedule change.

As we were catching an AC flight at 11:50 PM, the 2 hour and 50 minute connection on a different carrier made me nervous pervis. So after we had checked in, I proceeded over to the LAN ticketing desk. I asked if it was possible to get the flights changed. The guy at the ticketing desk initially told me no right off the bat, but after bugged him a little bit he relented and said that involuntary re-routing rules could apply. He told me to wait 10 minutes for his colleague to come back, which turned out to be supervisor. After some discussion, I was directed to the adjacent excess baggage payment desk where it took 10 minutes to change the ITIN with lots of typing. Unfortunately another 30 minutes wasted for something that could have probably been done on the internet in 5 minutes. Why must everything be done the hard way??? =)

We cleared security and proceeded through Lima exit customs. There was no line at all. Lots of amenities were on the secure side of the airport including a massive duty free spanning both sides of the walkway. Most of the pricing on the secure side was in USD, not Peruvian Soles and as always, the mark up was very noticeable.





After a gate change and the late arrival of the inbound aircraft, we were served a light sandwich and drink. I asked for wine and received the smallest wine pour that I have ever received on a flight. I usually feed my 7 year old son Cranberry juice in a larger sippy cup glass than this.







Upon arrival at Santiago International airport, we headed for the famed “Reciprocity Fee desk”, payable for certain Nationalities including Canada. The fee for Canadians is $132 USD (blah!!!) I was traveling with USD cash and didn’t want to spend it, so I attempted to pay with Visa, which appeared to have been a mistake on my part. Despite the markings of the acceptance of the cards at the desk, the very sour agent claimed that the credit card system was off line. She tried my RBC Avion CHIP card twice and it was “declined” according to her. I pulled out an Amex and it did go through on the first swipe.



At the baggage claim, there were many signed indicating not to take random taxis into Santiago for your security. There was a Trans VIP taxi service desk on the secure side, which I would have used inbound had I known it was there and had not booked the hotel car.

Hotel Orly, Santiago
Barrio Providencia


We stayed at Hotel Orly in one of their furnished apartments. The Hotel offered furnished apartments as an alternative to hotel rooms at a 15% discount. The apartments were 4 buildings down in the same block as the hotel. It was a bit run down when entering the 70’s era building, but the room had 2 flat screen tv’s, new furnishings, hardwood laminate floors, a combination sale, a hot plate with fridge and all cooking utensils, pots and pans and our own private internet router!!





The hotel is situation in Barrio Providencia, a residential neighborhood, which was a fantastic base for exploring. There are many restaurants within 2 blocks, Starbucks, Juan Valdez are very close by. The restaurant Liguria and Normandie were within a 10 minute walk. The Metro Petro de Validavla was at end of block. We also made use of the running trails next to our hotel, which ran the length of the Rio Mapocho. Hotel Orly offered a complimentary breakfast in morning, which included eggs and cold cuts. I would highly recommend this place to stay if you were a leisure traveler and wanted to really explore the neighborhood to feel a nicer part of Santiago.
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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:56 am
  #5  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Private Wine Tastings in the Maipo Valley
Almaviva / Concha y Toro / Cousino Macul


Though very little convincing, I was able to talk Ms World Traveller 73 into a day’s wine tour by private car rented from Hertz. The Hertz office was a ten minute walk down from Hotel Orly. We set out early. The lot was a compound with a large office and a maintenance bay. Although Hertz Gold 5 Star, there was no Gold Canopy here. Instead, I was invited into the office to sign a multitude of paperwork. This was apparently par for the course there – so much so that the office had black leather couches for people to wait on. I wished I had taken a photo of them.

We set out and headed for Almaviva – the joint winery effort between Concha y Toro and Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. I had made an earlier appointment. It was a bizarre sight to see mountains surrounding the vines.



Our 10 AM tour was private as no one else had booked and we had a lovely tasting of the 2008 Almaviva, which is actually cheaper for purchase in Canada than it is in Chile. The staff here, given the caliber of the wine, were very knowledgeable of all aspects of the industry.





We then went over to Concha y Toro and had the commercial tour. There were lots of busses, the whole experience reminded me of Napa Valley and the commercialism. There was a great bistro restaurant for the empanadas (were rich in onions), and a fairly average wine store for souvenirs. Ms WT went nuts in the store and came out with wine stoppers, bags and bottles of wine.

We had made a tour reservation but they didn’t find it at the check in. There was lots of tour guides so there was no problem here. They did serve Don Melachor on the tour, which is their flagship wine under their Concha y Toro label. I personally found it a bit too jammy and rough for my tastes. It reminded me of a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon that was too fruit forward.



The place was complete with a devil in the cellar.



We finished off the day at Cousino Macul. This particular winery has a few vines left in the city, but has moved most of its operation further out to get away from the development and pollution. If you wanted to do a self guided tour here (without paying for a guide in a white van) you can access this place using the Santiago Metro. Reservations are required. The wines here were quite good as well. We also had a private tour here since the other 2 on our time slot didn’t turn up.





Alpine Skiing in August – Valle Nevado, Chile.


The second portion of our Chile experience took us to Valle Nevado ski area. Having previously been a ski instructor and having been lucky enough to ski in Japan and France, I had always wanted to go down to Valle Nevado. I mean, skiing in August is a dream come true!! I researched the option of staying in Santiago and traveling up every day, but really, it was a holiday and likely a once in a life time experience. I booked a transfer through Ski Total, which we got to via the Metro at Escaula Militare. Since we were going up and back on two different dates, they charged us twice for the trips as they had to block our seats upward on our return date. I thought this was a bit of a sham, but indeed the vans were packed full without a spare seat to be had. We paid 48,000 CHP ($97 USD for two) or 12,000 CHP per person each way for transfers due to blocking seat for the return trip. I was impressed with Ski Total, they were very organized and clearly loved skiing.

The road trip up was awesome. It was a switchback road that had some 39 switchbacks. The road was about 1.5 lanes wide, and was single direction going up and down at certain times of the day. The reason was likely because the cars needed the whole road when we going around the corners.

We went for the budget accommodation at Hotel Tres Puntas given the price. I formed the opinion that Valle Nevado seems to gouge its guests. They operate on an all inclusive basis, and you can only arrive on set days. We paid over $2,000 USD for 4 days three nights for a mini ski week, worth including lodging and skiing including all food (not including alcoholic beverages) for two.

You would think for those prices, that you’d be treated like a king. Well, when we got to the check in desk, there was a massive swarm of people there waiting to get checked in. There were at least 9 people waiting with not a lot of action happening. We finally got our ski passes, changed into ski clothes and headed off to the rental department.







Pisco Sours during Apres with a view to die for:



At 4 PM, we came back and made it into our room. Remember that price that I told you about – we were horrified to learn that our room was smaller than my first apartment. I believe it to be smaller than some of the rooms I have had in the UK as a poor penniless backpacker traveler. I never though Aspen or Courchevel would have represented excellent value – but compared to this!!



It also turned out that they booked us into a double room, instead of a queen. I went back up to the front desk, waiting half an hour to speak with someone who would address the problem. The resolution was that I should take the room and they would “put” a queen in the room tomorrow. The supervisor that the clerk had to check with was hiding in an office and didn’t bother to come out.

There were two restaurants on offer at our price point. Our favorite was the Montre del Plomo buffet. It was complete with an egg scrambling station (breakfasts), a meat station parilla, appetizer buffet, pasta bar and dessert bar. The emphasis was on quantity, but the food wasn’t anything to complain about.

The skiing here was similar to the resorts that I had been to in Colorado. Not super advanced but groomed. The views were the most fantastic that I have seen anywhere in the world and even beat out Les Trois Vallees in France in my opinion.



The other benefit to staying up at the hill was that you had million dollar sunsets. Valle Nevado also put on a complimentary wine tasting on our last night. It was a strange experience to go from an outdoor hot tub at 10,000 feet to a wine tasting on the hot tub deck featuring fabulous appetizers, leather couches outside, Chilean wines, portable campfires with wood and a jazz band at sunset!! Being a bit bitter about the pricing, the small room and the fact that we felt as though we were getting fleeced, we took advantage of the free pour and downed as much as we humanly could. Needless to say, the wine was fabulous!!





Santiago Marriott
King Size Room – Advance Purchase


We returned to Santiago with ski total as planned and made the decision to walk with our rolling luggage and backpacks to the Santiago Marriot. It was the wrong decision as it was about 30 minutes walk, and having skied on our last day, we were pretty tired and hungry by the time we got to the Marriott.

We walked up and walked straight into the front desk area. The check in guy didn’t look too impressed with us. We did look like ski bums with our ski boots attached to the outside of our backpacks but what are ya gonna do? I had book the room under an advance purchase rate on Marriott.com. No upgrade was offered despite being Marriott Silver. There wasn’t any assistance with the bags, even though we could have used it, and I didn’t stick around because by this time, we were starved.

The room itself was very large in the center block facing north. We didn’t have any guests beside us. The included free breakfast was satisfactory, but nothing exciting. It did include an omelet station and all the bacon and sausage that you could want. The restaurant did seem full of consultants on the circuit.



The desk had a fabulous multi charging plug in station which I had never seen before.



The hotel was situated next to Parque Arauco, which was a large American styled mall with lots of restaurants, including Tony Roma’s, TGIF and the like. It made for a very non Latin American experience. While convenient, it made me decide that I actually preferred the Hotel Orly as the neighborhood had much more charm and personality. However, this location may be what you are looking for if you’re looking for a business hotel with stuff available without inconveniencing yourself.

A downside of the hotel, it was indeed a brisk 18 minute walk to the nearest Manaque Metro, which can make for a long sightseeing day if you are headed into town without a taxi. On the last breakfast of the day, our waiter gave us a complimentary sealed bottle of wine to take home as a souvenir, which was a nice touch. It made for a memorable experience, if not a super exciting one.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Oct 5, 11 at 10:04 am
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Old Oct 5, 11, 9:59 am
  #6  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
LAN 530 SCL-LIM
Economy (Y)
Airbus 319
Scheduled: 8:00 PM / Actual: 4:00 PM


On our return segment, we were SCL-LIM on LAN, then self-connecting to LIM-YYZ-YVR on AC. We were on our re-timed flight. The Santiago airport wasn’t super impressive. It seemed to leave less of an impression on me since the last time I went through there in 1998. I did find the stack of luggage in the domestic hall public side to be quite funny for some strange reason.







The flight was fully booked. We did get on an earlier flight, but we weren’t assigned seats with the flight change so we ended up sitting completely apart. The flight was also quite warm for some reason. I enjoyed another ham sandwich and a thimbleful of wine, which was the same as on the way down.

I filled out the Peruvian Customs Card and wrote TRANSIT on the address staying. The Customs person on arrival did not like this and gave me a 4 day visit stay, which was different from the 90 days that I got when we were through here for the earlier part of our holiday.

AC 081 LIM-YYZ
Executive First (J)
Boeing 767
Scheduled: 1:50 AM / Actual: Well……


Since we arrived to LIM in good time, we had several hours to kill. We walked over to the Ramada Airport Hotel (attached by a covered walkway) and enjoyed dinner there. The menu was quite diverse for a hotel restaurant, and it was a pleasant way to kill 3 hours.

We entered the check in area (passengers only) about 4 hours before our flight home and didn’t see where the desks were going to be. All of a sudden, about 14 ground staff gate agents hauled out the signage, overhead size containers and pop up displays, elite mats and check in was on. We were second in line for the Exec class check in and had no problems with our confirmed upgrades.



We were given a Sumaq lounge invitation. I got scolded for taking photos in there so not many to share with you. I did use a shower here, which had excellent pressure. Was not a five star facility but certainly better than the local YMCA. The head host made the flight announcements in the lounge. Free Pisco Sours were available and there was a unique outdoor smoking area available in atrium. There wasn’t much food on offer, stale sandwiches, chips, tortillas and small cakes were put out. The best part of the lounge was the extensive bar selection and that it was open 24 hours. The wifi was also free with a code available from the front.











We arrived to the gate and saw ramp equipment all over the place. Not a good sign. I looked into the cockpit and it was dark, normally also not a good sign! ! ! We returned to the lounge and begged our way back in.

They announced flight delays, which I received on my phone thanks to flight notifications that I signed up for.

Scheduled departure: 01:55 AM
First delay was to 2:55 AM,
Then 03:15 AM,
Then 3:30 AM,
Then 04:00 AM,

Then our worse fears…



Although I was in the lounge for most of this time, I was told that not many announcements were made by the ground staff with the departure sign and flight monitors still showing a departure time of 01:55 AM when our flight was cancelled.

There was a bit of a scrum from the ground staff as they figured out what they were going to do. Business class passports were collected as a group. The ground staff woman disappeared with our passports and returned twenty minutes later with a giant annulado over my passport stamp.



The business class passengers were escorted out on the departures level by staff. I don’t know what happened to the economy class passengers, but they had not started processing their passports by the time we had left. We were put into a private car, which was masquerading as a taxi and taken to the Delfines hotel in San Isidro. We were told at the airport before we left that the flight was re-scheduled to leave at 4:30 PM on Sept 6 as AC 2081 LIM-YYZ. We weren’t given access to our luggage.

We got to the Delfines Hotel at 5:30 AM and since there were only 2 people working, we were checked into the room by 6 AM. Not knowing what was happening, I cracked into my laptop and signed up for flight notification for the new flight. We slept for a bit.

After a few hours of sleep, at about 1 PM the next day, I started asking around but could not find any information as to when the bus was coming to get us for our 4:30 PM flight. The hotel front desk staff were not given any information and just told us to wait around.

I went back up to the room and checked my booking on line and learned that I was re-booked onto AC 2081 in J with a further connection YYZ-YVR in J.

An AC representative eventually came to the hotel at 4 PM – some 12 hours after our flight was cancelled. Surprisingly it was “Donald” who handled our theft of article complaint when we arrived in Lima. I had to ask myself, is it a bad thing when you recognize the ground staff in a foreign country on a first name basis? ? ?

AC determined that the plane could not be fixed, so they decided to fly down an empty 767 to pick up the 179 passengers stranded in LIM. AC does not have a daily service between YYZ-LIM. Our flight was set to leave on Sept 7 at 2:30 AM as AC2081. Donald said, “Please be in the lobby for 10 PM”

I was packing up the room at 9 PM, when I received a telephone call from AC Ground Agents. A man in broken English told me that they indicated that the empty plane flying down had yet to receive governmental approval to fly over Ecuador. “Yes, it sounds like a joke, but it is not…” said the man. “Please be in the lobby for 2 AM”.

I started to wonder how this late departure was going to affect my 4 day entry Visa and what would happen if I overstayed. I had only another 1 day left on it until it expired.

Due to the lack of information coming from AC about the outbound flight and our connections, I attempted to monitor the ITIN electronically, but the booking reference was re-timed so many times that the reservation computer showed flights that we were on our reservation that had already been cancelled (AC2081).

AC 2083 LIM-YYZ (IRROPS)
Executive First (J)
Boeing 767
Scheduled: 1:55 AM / Actual: 6:15 AM


At about 2 AM, we boarded a bus that had arrived for us. We eventually departed for the airport at 230 AM. At the check in, we were given $250 voucher in future traveling compensation in an apology letter. I inquired on whether I would be protected on an upgrade for my connecting flight YYZ-YVR but the gate agent in LIM refused to look into it or check us into our onward connecting flights, indicating that YYZ would sort it out. I attempted to pressure him but didn’t get anywhere in getting him to back down.



I signed up for flight notification again after checking in and learning the new flight number. We headed back to the Sumaq lounge and hung out. The bar did close at around 3 AM and the place was pretty deserted except for the cleaners and the vacuum droning away on the other side of the lounge.

The flight was again delayed, but by this time, who was really counting? I guess I was, because I kept track of the flight notifications as they came in.

Schedule departure: 01:55 AM
Revised 02:20 AM
Revised 04:00 AM
Revised 05:00 AM
Revised 06:45 AM
Revised 06:00 AM
Revised 06:15 AM
Revised 05:45 AM

After wandering down from the lounge at around 4 AM, we eventually departed on AC 2083 LIM-YYZ in J at 6:15 AM. On board, as we taxied toward the runway, the disabled AC plane was sitting on the side of the runway looking very lonely.



The service was order was reversed given that the flight was supposed to depart at 01:55 AM, and instead left at 6:15 AM. The crew was a lot fresher than we were,

Late Night Supper


Turkey and Gruyere Croque Monsieur Half with Grilled Vegetables



Freshly Baked Cookies

Pre Arrival Breakfast


Appetizers

Sliced Seasonal Fruit
Croissants and blueberry Muffins and Preserves



Main Courses

Mushroom Omelet with Tamale, sautéed leeks, Seta Mushrooms, Zucchini and Peppers

Sweet Cheese Crepes with Normande Sauce, Strawberry Coulis and Maple Syrup served with Peach, Pear and Strawberry.



I was never so happy to see those cheap socks in this kit. Probably also a first for Flyertalk to have a photo of champagne with a tube of toothpaste next to it.





I pretty much crashed out for most of this trip home.
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Old Oct 5, 11, 10:00 am
  #7  
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AC137 YYZ-YVR
Executive Class (J)
Airbus 330
Scheduled: 6:40 PM / Actual: 8:00 PM.


Upon arrival at the connection desk in YYZ, I learned that Ms World Traveler 73 had been confirmed in J for her connection, (using her own e-upgrade points from her original request) but I had no seat or reservation what so ever for my YYZ-YVR flight. We were traveling on separate and unlinked itins. In response to this, I checked all of our checked baggage in with my partner (3 pieces under her AC Elite status) to allow for a bit of flexibility, and proceeded to search for a flight with my carry on pack only.

Given the time, there were only 3 flights left leaving for Vancouver. I wasn’t keen on taking another day off from work – my boss was almost ready to kill me as it was. I spoke to several staff at the connections desk and at the MLL in YYZ in attempt to get J space, but was unable to get any deviation for a confirmed seat in J as all the R space had expired, sold, or used. I did see that two seats were available in paid fares on a later evening flight at 8:15 PM, but was not allowed access to it. I was given a seat in Y economy on this flight.

I attempted to find one of the famed concierges, but couldn’t find anyone and ground agents, MLL agents, didn’t seem too interested in helping me out. They did act on my questions though… just not really to my satisfaction given that I had now missed a day of work and was behind schedule by about 30 hours. I felt like Tom Hanks from the Terminal, shell shocked from being up for so many hours and wandering around aimlessly getting nowhere.

I eventually stood by at the gate of the next departing YYZ-YVR flight and was able to get a J seat 30 minutes before the door closed, pretty much begging and thanks to the mercy of a gate agent, I was able to get a spot in J. It was a humbling experience having to beg for upgrades normally given out as UDU on United after being in transit for 24 hrs based on an issue beyond my control.

On the YYZ-YVR service, we were offered another welcome drink, although no champas since it’s not stocked domestically.



Mesculin Salad and grilled vegetables with balsamic olive oil dressing



Beef tenderloin with bourbon glaze, potatoes au gratin, seasoned carrots and broccoli

Turbot with lemon dill cream sauce, mixed rice and broccoli



Spinach and ricotta lasagna with rose cream sauce and roasted vegetables

Warm Breads with butter.

Oatmeal raisin and dark chocolate chip cookes baked fresh on board served with gourmet vanilla ice cream.

I was ultimately delayed 30 hours. My partner and I missed a day of work but we made it back. It was also apparent that no one was handling onward reservations, and left those with connections to fend for themselves in YYZ at 3 PM based on the remaining available inventory. Through some miracle, our bags made it back unmolested after being unattended in the LIMA Airport for 30 some odd hours.

In closing, had a fantastic trip, and saw lots of wonderful things. However, the organization of our flights seemed to be falling apart at the seams at every opportunity. From our 2 hour delayed connection at the start, to the IRROPS that delayed us 30 hours at the end, and no confirmed booking for myself on our last segment, it made me wonder how those without any preferential treatment would have ever made it home.

I would recommend travel to Peru. Go for the sights, go for the food, go and enjoy yourselves. The skiing at Valle Nevado was a once in a lifetime experience. The wine area of Chile also begged further exploration… Thanks for reading.

To Travel,

World Traveller 73.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Oct 5, 11 at 10:05 am
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Old Oct 5, 11, 10:08 am
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
Lima was a city of contrasts. The area around the airport was quite desolate and impoverished. However the inner city around the Plaza de Armas was beautifully restored and maintained. I found it more enjoyable and better maintained than some of the other Latin American cities.
+1, it's very interesting. I had only previously been to Buenos Aires before I went to Lima this past July, and arrived at the same conclusion. So very, very poor - especially around the airport, and even more so north of the airport.

I snuck this photo when I wasn’t supposed to. It was almost completely dark.

+1! I did the same, lol! I got about 15 good pictures as I "lagged" behind the guide quite a bit.

Great TR, thanks for sharing!
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Old Oct 5, 11, 12:02 pm
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Excellent report. Shame AC let you down at the end.
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Old Oct 5, 11, 4:59 pm
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Great TR, thanks for sharing, excellent photos. Delays etc sounded dreadful.
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Old Oct 5, 11, 5:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Moomba View Post
Excellent report. Shame AC let you down at the end.
Yes, unfortunately, his flight is being canceled due to mechanical problem. No one who responsible for that. They should have to fixed the aircraft right way. I think he have to fly on LANChile from LIM-SFO-YVR is a best time. AC isn't good enough at all. He should have to re-route from LIM-SFO-YVR instead of going through YYZ.
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Old Oct 5, 11, 8:45 pm
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Great TR! May I ask how long you were outside of LIM (i.e., at CUZ, Sacred Valley, and MP)? I have an itinerary to go to LIM in February -- arriving at 6am on a Monday morning on LAN, departing for IPC on Saturday night -- and really want to go to CUZ to see Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. I am thinking of booking a flight on that Monday morning so that I can just connect off my inbound flight and thinking of staying until Friday. Would that be enough?
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Old Oct 5, 11, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by amolkold View Post
Great TR! May I ask how long you were outside of LIM (i.e., at CUZ, Sacred Valley, and MP)? I have an itinerary to go to LIM in February -- arriving at 6am on a Monday morning on LAN, departing for IPC on Saturday night -- and really want to go to CUZ to see Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. I am thinking of booking a flight on that Monday morning so that I can just connect off my inbound flight and thinking of staying until Friday. Would that be enough?
Hello.

On my trip, I had almost exactly 48 hrs in Cuzco / Sacred Valley Machu Picchu. My whole schedule was booked through monograms.

Day 1:
AM fly from LIM-CUZ
PM: City Cuzco Tour + Sacsaywaman + Q'uenqo ruins

Day 2:
All Day: Sacred Valley Tour (Pisac market, Ollaytambo ruins, Chincero ruins)

Day 3:
AM: Van Transfer from Cuzco to Aquas Calientes via Ollyatambo train station.
PM Visit Macchu Picchu with tour

Day 4:
AM: Sunrise at Machu Picchu
PM: Return Train to Ollyatambo / Van Transfer to Cuzco

Day 5:
AM: Depart return flight.

I would have liked to have had an extra day in Cuzco to wander the streets. We only had the afternoon (after our tour), and our trips out for dinner at night. I found that the day tours were easily 7 AM start and 7 PM finish after all the passengers were picked up and dropped off.

If you want to take in Machu Picchu, and want to see a lot, I would seriously consider booking some things in advance. Train tickets can be had through peru rail http://www.perurail.com as well as MP entrance tickets I believe. I believe that it is more expensive to train all the way from Cuzco, and a car / train combo is cheapest.

Monograms booked their local tours through Lima Tours http://www.limatours.com.pe . You may wish to consider figuring out what you want to see in advance, and making reservations in advance as you'll waste good time there if you wait until you arrive there. Again, we didn't book through Lima Tours, Monograms did that for us, but their services were good as a supplier.

Take some photos of Easter Island at sunset - it's supposed to be fabulous.
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Old Oct 6, 11, 1:43 am
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
...
Thanks a lot for the info and links! Seems like a Monday-Friday trip would work, and give me 1.5 days in Lima once flying back (although I'd love more, but I'm dealing with mileage award availability and the fact that there are only 2x LIM-IPC flights weekly).

From the schedules I've seen, it does seem best to get a bus/car from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and then catch the train there (or better yet, find a hostel in Ollantaytambo on the 2nd day, and catch a morning train to Machu Picchu on the 3rd). Your tip of going to MP in the evening, staying at Agua Calientes, returning for sunrise, and then taking the train back to Ollantaytambo/Cuzco is great.

And I'll make sure to get some great pics at Easter Island -- definitely will make a TR for it.
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Old Oct 6, 11, 11:17 am
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I'll forewarn you - Aquas Calientes isn't a fantastic place. It reminded me of the city part of Niagra Falls or Old Las Vegas. Lots of souvenir shops and the like without lots of charm. If you can get over the fact that there are no cars in town, it's actually an interesting place to explore.

I stayed at the El Mapi Hotel http://www.elmapihotel.com/. It was a decent refurbished property.

I also ate at the Cafe Inkaterra at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Lodge. This place was a bit more upmarket, but the food here is best for foodies. Fabulous quinoa salads and modern fusion food. http://www.inkaterra.com/en/machu-picchu

Probably not necessary to stay at such nice places, since you're probably only going to be sleeping here overnight and spending all your time up the hill at the main event. They were included in our tour.

Book in advance!!
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