Posts Tagged With: Mendoza

Day 298: Mendoza – Argentina – April 11th

Breakfast was early, as the nice old granny served us coffee and bread. We aren’t sure how to describe what this bread tastes like, but it seems very popular all across the Andes…but they don’t taste very good.

Hopping onto a bus back to Mendoza, we checked into our hostel again. We were uncertain about our day’s plans as we wanted to go to a place called Uspallata, located between Mendoza and Santiago, but transportation seems like an issue. Aconcagua National Park is nearby, but getting there for a hike seems like a bit troublesome. We ditched our plans and bought a bus ticket for next morning to Santiago de Chile, as there wasn’t much interest in both of us to travel around here.

Back at our hostel, we bumped into the gay Columbian couple, sharing our stories of the wine tour with them. Then, we received an email from the couple we met yesterday, asking if we wanted to join them for a wine tour tomorrow as they want to rent a car and book private tours. They speak Spanish, and they’ll be driving, so we thought why not! Turns out, we couldn’t really change our bus ticket without paying an excessive amount, so we ditched the idea, and the best part was they ditched us as well. We headed over to their hostel, and the workers say they left to the wine region with their own car already! We left a note, sent an email saying we can’t join, and never heard from them again. Jerks.

We had a whole afternoon to relax in the nice yard, opened up a bottle of wine and had a nice afternoon chatting with the Columbians. They have a really funny story for why they’re here, as they’re on a forced vacation as their work visa has expired and they’re waiting for a new one. They are both bartenders at a popular Chilean nightclub, making decent money for the weekends while the older guy taught sushi making or for parties. The younger guy sells clothes and stuff online. They were extremely funny, asking to take pictures with us! Turns out, the young guy sells a lot of stuff from China, but has no idea where to get a better source. The best was when he asked if we knew how to buy “fuyongbao”, and we were thinking it might be some sort of medicine….turns out it was medicine alright, but more Viagra than Tylenol….. It was popular in Columbia they say…. Alright.

For the evening, we were going to get the older guy to cook us something, and he happily obliged, but problem was they got a call saying they can get a job in Buenos Aires, and they should get there now! So they booked the next bus out before dinner time, and our dinner party was cancelled. We headed over to Carrefour to buy some more groceries, and with two nice sirloins and some veggies, we came out paying only $1.50USD!! Thanks to some coupons we had shopping before at Carrefour, our steak dinner costed $1.5USD hahaha!

We popped the pricey bottle we bought at Tempus to go with our sirloin, but somehow the wine was totally uninteresting and not very good….. tasted nothing like what we had yesterday! We felt gypped…. but nothing drinking the bottle of wine can’t solve.

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Day 297: Mendoza – Argentina – April 10th

Breakfast at the hostel, for the first time in a long time, they actually had eggs and pancakes for us! Something about South Americans and a light breakfast consisting of tea, coffee, and bread+jam. Don’t know how they do it, but even with our skinny frames we get pretty damn hungry like an hour later….

Today we’re paying a visit to the wineries of Mendoza! The wineries are spaced out in several regions, and some of them aren’t accessible unless you have a car or book through tour agencies. Then, there’s the town of Maipu, which has frequent bus services from downtown Mendoza, and it also sports a “wine route”, which pretty much is a single road with wineries jutting out on both sides. This was a highlight before going, but the best part for us was because you could rent a bike there, and ride to all the wineries along the route! It sounds like a fabulously fun idea, riding along the calm country-side with a tandem bike, wind blowing in our hair and not a care in the world…

We hopped onto the bus, and actually bumped into the couple we met last night on the bus! We shared a few tips, and they were quite excited themselves as they seem to love wine as much as we love to drink it. We actually booked a hostel in Maipu instead of having to go back to Mendoza at night, but mainly because our hostel was fully booked already haha. Checking into the hostel, we were the only two staying there that night along with another Canadian! It wasn’t much of an hostel as it is a house with a friendly old lady and her son doing the business. Very friendly old lady, and always great as she’d do the grandma thing of picking up on our bad Spanish, and correcting it (not in a mean way, we can always learn!).

Picking up two bikes for a reasonable $9USD, we first attempted a tandem bike but those things are tooooo scary despite its laid-back appearance. Happily riding along, Jiajia’s minimal experience riding bikes was a bit of a worry at first, but a few hundred meters in she was riding like a pro. Problem was, the roads are NOWHERE what you’d imagine in Argentina. About 1km out from the town, the road turned into a dirt road with dust flying everywhere, trucks zipping next to you as we weaved in and out of construction zones. It felt more like Nepal than anything! After a while, construction stopped and it slowly turned into the quaint, tree-lined roads you’d imagine when thinking of wine country.

First stop, also the furthest stop on the official wine route, was a small winery called Carinae. The winery is very small, owned and operated by a French couple who knew nothing about wine before they bought this operation as a ‘retirement’ plan. Respect. The tasting was very organized and were really impressed with their Octans blend, and a first experience of a grape known as Torrontes. With the floral bouquet of moscato, the wine isn’t overly sweet and dry, hence the winery labels it comically as a liar grape. Bought a bottle of that awesome Octans and we were on our way to the next stop!

Some things seem to go together, like having gourmet chocolate shops next to the expensive butcher? And here in Mendoza, across from the Carinae winery was an olive oil factory. You can smell the hint olive oil from afar, it was awesome! They don’t offer tours, but the tasting was an awesome snack as you load up on olive oil and bread to line the stomach for more wine.

One of the more popular visits in this part of the wine route is the Di Tommaso winery, started by Italian immigrants in 1869, and the winery is declared as a national heritage site, so they can’t actually do any of the manufacturing there anymore. The wine tours were cool, taking you into the depths of their brick vats that are no longer used. The whole place has this awesome old-world feel to it, except the problem is their wines sucked horribly. Horrible.

With our visit to Di Tommaso, it was getting late and we’re running out of time before most places close. We still haven’t had lunch, but the lunch place was rather far, so we stopped at the next winery closest to us, Tempus. Part of the fun with visiting wineries is that, each one has their own style of wines, but their architecture says a lot too. Tempus winery is a modern winery, from the massive gates, to the font of their winery and most importantly, the building itself, is very modern and very cool. The tasting bar is on the 2nd floor, and we went for two ‘flights’, and tried out all their reds as we sat on an outdoor patio overlooking their vineyards. Their regular reds weren’t spectacular, but we ordered a steak which made it all worthwhile. The best though, was their expensive reserve wines, which we ended up buying. While enjoying the sunshine, the ambiance, and the buzz from drinking so much wine, our friends we met from the bus joined in and we had a nice chat as well. The reserve wines of Tempus was very exceptional, and we happily rode our bikes back to the town of Maipu as the sun set over the dusty roads.

Cooling down with a glass of fruit juice at the bike shop, we looked around for some food. Problem is, it was too early for most Argentines to eat dinner being only 7:30pm, but in Mendoza they eat late even for Argentine standards! We ended up eating 2x massive sandwiches, a litre of coke and sitting outside a nice yard as the stars twinkled above. Nice day…!

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Day 296: Mendoza – Argentina – April 9th

For those unfamiliar with Argentina, it is quite a large wine producing country. Back home, it was our favorite go-to wines for its great value and tasty malbecs. The wines we love come from the Mendoza region, which is where we are now! Mendoza is the capital of the synonymous province. It also serves as a base for any ascents up Aconcagua, the highest peak in all of South America! Wine country, beautiful golf resorts, and climbing, what else can you want?

The city itself was rather uninteresting, but maybe because our expectations were rather high. It felt like any other medium-sized city with lots of traffic, and quite a bit of people! We checked-in to our hostel, and pretty much spent all afternoon there after buying some groceries to cook. In the hostel, we met a few other travelers, but the nicest ones was a gay Columbian couple we shared our dorm with. They were very friendly, and were the only people there that showed any interest in talking with us.

Relaxed for the most part, and after dinner Alan was itching for some ice cream….and during our short walk outside we noticed a sign saying Tues & Weds, there was a sale for 1kg of ice cream at only 33P, which was about $4USD!!!! We haven’t seen this chain much, but how can you refuse such an awesome deal. We got to the store, which doesn’t close til 11pm (another strange luxury we don’t have back home…)!! We got in, confirmed that the special is still on, and asked for 1kg, 4 flavours of ice cream. After filling the tub to the brim, and weighing in at exactly 1.02kg she turned around, packed it up for us and put on a lid. We calmly said… “Comida aqui” (We’ll eat it here), which was met with a comical smile, and a whatever-you-crazies-want look.

20min later, we sat there realizing that we just finished a kilogram of ice cream. Didn’t know it was possible, but we did it…Argentina, affordable steaks, wines, and ice cream!

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