Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Mendoza produces 70% of Argentinas wine

Mendoza started off with a rocky start.... After a crazy 5 days in Buenos Aires and a 14 hours bus ride we were keen to get out in the country and wind down a little...of which we did in the end! Arriving in our hostel early morning (the usual for a overnight bus ride) the hostel looked great from the outside but didn´t quite live up to our quieter expectations.

We booked a double room for the first time in a week or so and were keen to enjoy the peace and good sleep. No such luck! After the day of wandering and planning the next couple of days of wineyards and bike riding we were ready for an afternoon nap (what a luxury) Only minutes later we had a Ben Harper wannabe singing and strumming his guitar outside our room. Don´t get me wrong....he wasn´t bad just not what we were expecting. So after the initial shock we decided to have a laugh about it and join others at the bar...if you can´t beat em join em i say! The night consisted of another Parrilla (BBQ meat) and some local wine. We were well on our way to a fun but chilled evening. Having hit the sack reasonably early (1am - after the hostel staff cracked open the tequila!) which is very early in Argentina terms we were excited about a sleep in and no high pitched snoring, sleep screaming or talking or door slamming for 8 hours. Instead we were awoken by a mechanic workshop only metres from our room drilling and hammering from 7.30am......the humour shown from the previous afternoon wasn´t shown as much as this one. : ) - Simon the bear wasn´t so easily awoken...must have been the shots before bed that helped and of course the defensive ear plugs! Having booked 3 nights in the room, we swiftly informed them we were going to move on.

Off we went online and booked another place....and it was so lovely and peaceful! We stayed in a cracking hostel (Chimbas Hostel) with a swimming pool, kitchen and relaxed atmosphere. As is customary in wine regions of the world one must do a wine tour and taste the local delicacies, there was a good commotion at the hostel about Mr Hugos Bike tours...excellent, wine mixed with balance and speed - just what we needed. 3 Aussie lads from Sydney from the hostel were also keen so we all headed off with some early advice on two things...make sure you have change for the bus and that Mr Hugo puts on a mean serving of wine at the end of the tour.

So when we got the bus station we had to jet around multiple shops and buying things to give us all the correct 1.80 pesos required for the bus. So bus comes along and we get on but you cant give money to the bus driver for change or any transaction, it must go in the ticket machine, this thing looked like a clapped out old pokermachine which we happily fed our coins - finally we all got tickets after it chewing up coins and the bus driver having to stop the bus and use his special swipe card to get us the remaining tickets we needed - the locals dont like it when their bus stops for gringos...anyway on we go. So we arrived at Mr Hugos for a full briefing in Spanish, lots of pointing and smiling and then we greeted by the local policia and given some pamphlets on responsibility with riding and alcohol....hilarious, we thought Argentina perhaps had turned the corner when it came to road and other safety...alas they let us on the road.

So in a nutshell the riding tour was a 18km round tour, multiple wineries with tastings at each so lets call it 3 glasses at each, lunch with another 2 bottles amongst five and then we kinda forget bits probably due to dehydration! We had some great Malbecs, Rose, Cab Sav and Syrah along the way, bought some yummy olive tapenade and tasted some nice olive oil with 16 day old bread. One of the finest cellar buildings we saw in Simons opinion one of the best in the world was a modern building with a great terrace elevated to provide a view above the vines..very nice. This place came with its own party boy MC that proceeded to kiss and touch every male and female in the place expressing his deepest gratitude for our attendance..what a guy! After much talk of leaving that place we rode the final kms back to Hugos with some brilliant riding skills, abaiding by the pamplet instructions, phew. Hugo (I think I saw two Hugos) greeted us happily, sat us down and plonked a bottle of wine on the table for us to enjoy...the aussie lads balked at it but in true style poured the glasses, its worth noting that one of them didnt even drink wine!!! hahah he struggled through and in is eyes was now more educated on fine grape juice. The trip home was in a 5 person cab with 6 people...lots of giggles and smells after a fine days riding. Job done, we cruised home, cooked a great dinner and hit the hay.

In summary - Mendoza, great town, nice people, relaxing, good food and wine - highly recommended as part of any Argentinian tour but only a few days required.
Off now to Salta to enjoy some yup you guessed it, more wine and beef.

1 comment:

  1. Gee you pair are doing it tough i really feel sorry for you
    Keep up the good work