After having a ball in Latin America’s Paris (BA), we headed on to Mendoza – the land where wine is cheaper than water!
It was the perfect weekend to arrive into Mendoza as it was Chile’s 450 birthday and so there was a huge street party in their plaza de Chile the whole weekend with cheap wine (with fresh strawberries, cheap parilla, huge empenadas (we’re going to become empenadas if we’re not carful).
Mendoza itself was a little disappointing because to get to any of the great vineyards and bodegas you have to hire a car or driver to get a round because most great places are about 25km away. And that’s not cheap! We settled for a wines and bikes tour around maipu which was great and managed to find a lovely boutique vineyard (Bodega Carinae) and a olive farm amongst others!
There were a few other areas we was keen to explore (Valle de Uco) but we saved them for when we return when we’ve retired and can afford it! Luckily however on our last evening there we found ‘Vines of Mendoza’. A great (and surprisingly only) wine bar in Mendoza! It served amazing young, Reserva and Gran Reserva wines by the glass (very rare in Argentina as you usually have to buy bottles of the good stuff) and to top it off they had a happy hour from 7-10pm where you can enjoy some of the best wines from the region for 50% of the normal price for large glasses! We tried about 5 glasses each which may have been a little excessive but we know what we like now…
Laureano Gomez 2010 – Malbec Reserva (Valle de Uco)
Recuerdo 2011 – Malbec (Valle de Uco)
Qaramy Finca 2005- Malbec, Cab Sav, Syrah blend
Postales Del Fin Del Mundo 2011- Malbec (Patagonia)
Carinae Prestige 2008 – Malbec, Cab Sauv, Syrah (Maipu)
Alamos 2011- Malbec (Mendoza)
Chato’s 2009 – Malbec Reserva (Calchaqui Valley)
Bodega Nanni 2011 – Torrontes Tardio (Valle de Cafayate)
Quara 2012 – Torrentes Dulce Natural (Valle de Cafayate)
Norton – Extra Brut sparkling wine
Ventus Fin Del Mundo – chardonnay, Sav Blanc blend (Patagonia)
Buenos Aires is a unique and extremely fun place. Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world and 75% of it’s population live in greater Buenos Aires. Add that to the turbulent political history with governments being overthrown and the country being swung from left to right, plus it’s strong political figures like President Peron (and wife Evita) and strong rebellious heroes like Che, then you end up with an extremely clued up and opinionated group of people. There is apparently always a march of some kind going on in BA and the few days we were there was no exception. There was a ‘middle class protest’ about the government restricting how people spend their money outside of the country and we soon discovered that if you’re not afraid to ask the locals what they think then they’re certainly not afraid to tell you (even if you don’t ask sometimes). This particular topic seemed to split people down the middle and we spoke to people from both sides of the fence. All very open and really fun and interesting to talk to.
Buenos Aires has cemented Argentina as our favourite country so far. Bolivia’s salt flats are probably my highlight, but the people here have made the country stand out for us. On the way home from dinner one night (where we’d had an extensive chat to the restaurant owner about the topic above), we got on the bus to realise you can only use coins and cards (which we didn’t have) so 2 boys in front of us paid for our journey without thinking about it twice. How often would that happen in London and would I have done the same? I certainly would from now on.
The street markets and street food have been amazing (and relatively cheap). Things in general though have been very expensive here compared to the other countries we’ve visited. Our budget means we can now only afford separate beds in dorm rooms, which Tul says “feels like being divorced”. We’ve splurged on some nice romantic dinners to make up for it though, as well as taken a Tango class! Tango is everywhere in this city and one of our best nights was watching a free street tango show with live music from a wine bar (NOT free!) balcony.
Oh, we also had a few nights in a swanky hotel for Tul’s early surprise Birthday present which was also a welcome break from usual dorm rooms :)
Mendoza and wine region next!
Pronounced by locals ‘Caff-a-shatty’. Bigger than Samaipata but still a relatively small town and we both loved it there not least because it’s officially wine country, but the temperature is also scorching hot.
We rented bikes to ride to the different vineyards and bodegas, the best of which was Bodega Nanni where we had our favourite wine and an amazing steak which I can now see why Argentina is famous for. A lot of the wines so far have been fairly disappointing but the white made from the local grape Torrontes Dulce is delicious (and inexpensive).
Also, and this is probably the best part – Tul is really beginning to love dogs! One of the street dogs attached itself to us for two days, lying at our feet during dinner and even waiting outside while I went to the loo. We named it Cusquena (independently of each other) after our favourite dark beer and Tul insisted we buy it an empanada each night.
The few days we had there didn’t seem enough, but we can rest easy knowing that we managed to consume over 50 empanadas during that time (Casa de las Empanadas are some of the best we’ve had) :-|
We’ve now just started a 21hr bus journey to Iguazu falls after already completing the first 6hr leg and a quick stop-over in Tucuman. Let’s hope the falls are worth it…
Grrr, we’ve discovered that one of our memory cards has contracted a virus and therefore possibly infected all of them. A little digging on Google told us that this is becoming more and more common. It also looks like there’s not a lot you can do apart from formatting the card (unless any of my geek family and friends has any advice?!).
So this isn’t a post about what I’d like to do to the people who created it (Tul is here for me to rant at), but it is a warning that it’s quite easy unless you’re on a machine that you know is correctly protected against viruses (not your average Internet cafe PC over here).
For the rest of the trip we’ll only be saving our photos directly onto our new memory cards and the photos for the blog will just be from our phones.