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The journal formerly known as ...Latin America

Mendoza, birthplace of the delicious Malbec

ARGENTINA | Wednesday, 29 December 2010 | Views [974] | Comments [2]

Our trip has changed quite a bit since the last time I wrote! We have been spending a lot more time outdoors. We bought camping gear when we were in Santiago and since then have camped for the last 9 nights. At first it was hard to get used to the heat and cold in the tent, not always having electrical outlets, being a little farther from the city AND having to carry A LOT more gear, but despite all these things I’ve found that it’s really pretty nice. It’s nice having campfires, cooking outside, the other friendly campers, saving money and being more self-reliant than we were before. Plus, I’m getting to do more cooking than before and that’s definitely a good thing!

Brett left off at our first camp trip right outside of Santiago. After camping we had to go back to the city to make a visit to the Chinese Embassy. For those of you who don’t know, we are planning to move to China shortly after this trip. I got a job with Disney English in Shanghai and my start date is mid-February, so we’ll be moving there about 2 weeks after finishing this trip! I’m really excited about the job… This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while and it’s really cool to finally actually be doing it. After visiting the Embassy, we found out that you can only get your Visa in the country where you’re from, so we’re just going to wait until we get back to the States. After getting this news we packed up and left the next day for Mendoza, the Malbec capital of Argentina!

Mendoza is a pretty big city, so finding and getting to the campsite was a little complicated. After talking to like 5 people, we ended up jumping on one of the city buses. If you don’t know a city, then it’s a bit complicated figuring out the bus system. We found someone to let us use their bus card and attempted to explain to the bus driver where we were going. Everyone in Latin America is so friendly and helpful that even if they don’t know what you’re talking about they will still act like they know what you’re talking about and give you advice. So of course, the bus driver said he knew exactly where we were going and dropped us off with only a 45 minute walk to our campsite. We’re walking and walking with our huge packs following the map that someone at the station had made for us… Only to find that the map only led to a dark street that dead ended at a baseball stadium. We were pretty happy when the cops rolled up with their lights on and offered us a ride out of the “bad neighborhood” and to our campsite. It was a tight squeeze for us and our massive bags to fit in their tiny 4 door sedan, but we made it happen!

Despite the campsite being a little hot, dusty and lined by roads on two sides, it was already well past dark so we decided to stay. We spent the next day wandering around the city and trying to find bikes that we could take out for wine tasting the next day. We went to visit the vineyards about 45 minutes outside of the city in an area called Lujan de Cuyo. We were told that it’s best to catch the bus at 9am to make sure that you have time to visit at least 4 vineyards. As it goes for Brett and I, we woke up a little late and took a really long time to get ready and finally made it to the bus stop at 1045am. We recognized another couple at the stop with the same bike flyer as us and joined forces with them to make sure we got the right bus.

We were all riding along when the bus driver yells that it’s our stop. It didn’t look quite right, so we asked him again if it was the Andover bodega and he said yes with such certainty that we all got off. After looking around and checking our map, we were convinced that we were definitely not there yet and needed to get on the bus again.

We took another short ride to the place where we picked up our bikes. The guy renting the bikes had made reservations for us at 3 bodegas. We were happy to have these reservations because some of them are very strict about security and don’t let you in at all if you don’t have a reservation. The first bodega we went to was called, Panacer. We road in on a dirt road lined with the grape vineyards and came to a really nice building surrounded by a pond. It was very picturesque. The main wine produced in this area of Argentina is a red called Malbec. If you haven’t tried it yet, then I highly recommend it! We were given an assortment of 3 different, unfinished Malbecs that we had to try to mix together to make a good blend. After that we were given a white Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and then a taste of their Malbec Reserve. They were very generous with the wine and by the end we all had a pretty good buzz and were having a good time chatting with everyone.

Next stop was for the sparkling wine at Chandon, about 16km away. We all went outside to jump on our bikes when I realized that my tire was completely flat! Brett and I have to be the most unlucky people when it comes to renting equipment, because it seems like our stuff always breaks! Anyway, we had the bike rental guy come switch out the tire and by the time we got going again it was about an hour later. We only had about 40 minutes to make it for our next reservation and we missed it because I was craving empanadas and it we stopped at 4 panaderias trying to find them. ;/ Anyway, when we showed up, we were told that we missed our tour but just as she said that the tour group came in and she said we could join in for a free tasting if we wanted! : ) We got to try 3 different kinds of champagne. The bottles of Chandon are only $10 here compared to the $40 that they are sold for in the States!

It’s here where we got to meet back up with the couple from Holland that we’d met in the morning on the bus. They got to talking about the Torres del Paine hike that they’d done just a couple weeks before. The same hike that Brett has talked me into doing. The 5 day/4 night hike where you have to carry all your food, clothes, water and camping equipment through the wind, snow, hail and rain. I have never done anything like this, so I’m pretty nervous. While all of you are out drinking champagne and celebrating your New Year, you should think of where we will be… Outside, wet and freezing in the middle of a Chilean forest. Lol. Wish me luck! Hopefully Brett can manage to carry in a small bottle of Chandon for the celebration… ;)

After the tasting at Chandon, we realized that it was already too late for us to make it to our 3rd reservation. We jumped on the bus with the Hollanders and headed back to our campsite to have some dinner in the outdoors with our adopted cat, Patrick. Even though our wine tasting experience didn’t go as smooth as possible, we still had a really great time. I think it’s these small things/problems that happen to make life as interesting as it is. Plus, we wouldn’t have nearly as many stories to tell without them.

Next stop, Bariloche… Moving on into Patagonia! I’m sure there will be lots to tell. Until next time… Lots of love!

Sophia

Tags: argentina, bike tour, lujan de cuyo, malbec, mendoza, vineyards, wine tasting

Comments

1

Hi guys!
So much fun to continue reading about your trip, we where in beautiful Mendoza as well just a couple of weeks ago :) Lots of nice Malbecs. Congratulations Sophia for your new job - sounds super exciting! We will come to Shanghai in mid April for a week, so of course we have to meet up!! Btw, inspired by your site and frustrated with the Facebook support team, we also started up a travel blog recently (even though we are not as good at writing as you guys are..). Check it out at www.haroch.nu - we will add our Mendoza pics shortly as well! :)

Take care, lots of hugs!
Lina & Martin

  Lina & Martin Dec 30, 2010 10:57 AM

2

Hi Sophia, I love all of the blogs you guys have posted!
We WILL think about on you on New Years, actually I think of you not only everyday but many times a day. Here's to having good weather while you are in Torres Del Paine. Make sure Brett doesn't do anything too extreme!
Can't wait to hear you are back out of the wilderness!
Love,
Mom Isis

  Gay Dec 30, 2010 2:45 PM

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