I've fallen in with a tremendous group of friends here, easily some of the greatest people I've ever known. They're hilarious, energetic, welcoming and forgiving (these days, an important trait for those who befriend me). It was with this magnificent little crew that I made the pilgrimage to Toast Martinborough, a yearly wine festival held in the rich vineyards of the Wairarapa region about an hour outside of Wellington.
The weather could not have been better that day, as summer finally seemed to win its battle with the cold weather that's reared its head since I've been here. Five of us crammed in the car (one of whom was our designated driver. We're responsible people), and journeyed over the mountains to enjoy the beautiful sun and some tasty wine.
At the outset of Toast, it seems a very sophisticated event with people calmly enjoying fine wines and pleasant conversation. It does not stay that way. More than 10,000 people attended the event. More than 14,500 bottles of wine were consumed. You do the math.
Toast Martinborough: Beginning of the Day
Toast Martinborough: End of the Day
A couple tips if you ever plan to attend this event. First, make sure to eat in the morning. It doesn't matter whether or not you're hungry. Eat. Second, drink a lot of water, and do so consistently throughout the day. Third, pace yourself. You have a whole day to drink wine. There's no reason to put away an entire bottle in the first two hours you're there.
By following these tips, you assure yourself a lovely and relaxing day you'll remember for years to come. If you don't follow these few simple steps, you end up comatose in the back of your friend's Volkswagen while your other mates try to force feed you a mince pie, which you angrily reject, and then when they give you water to drink you pour it all over yourself, then you lean lecherously on one of your female friends, and apologize to her just in case you get "kissy" which you really don't even have the energy to do, you just lean there, haphazardly shoving foul-tasting potato chips into your mouth and missing entirely most of the time, then wake up a couple hours later with a splitting headache, cotton mouth and the realization that all your friends are enjoying the vineyard while you suffer DTs in the back of a hot car, and then when you finally muster the strength to stumble out of the car, you realize the entire scene has degenerated into a drunken orgy that's more sad than amusing and paramedics are hauling some guy out on a stretcher while you fight a pounding headache and watch helplessly as one of your friends is felt up by a guy in a safari costume. This is, of course, an entirely hypothetical situation.
Another tip. If one of your friends seems more than a little inebriated, don't let him call one of his female flatmates. Just don't do it.
Other than that, Toast Martinborough is a lovely event for the whole family. If you're ever in New Zealand, don't miss it!