Wine bike tour trashed!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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As we enter Mendoza, of course there are fields of grapes after fields of grapes.
We enter Mendoza bus station and are confronted by a fat, little, greasy curly haired Argentinian who told us 'No tip, No bag!'. Unbelievable! We all tipped the guy in Chile, as he didn't ask and it was over 34C in temperature, here, this lazy guy was doing nothing. One British girl told him to 'f**k off' and she pulled her bag from his hands. I had one coin left from Chile, so parted with that, I remember I had saved a coin from Easter Island for my niece. Not the best welcome to Argentina, especially as we then tried to hail a cab and 3 empty ones drove right on by! The guy who picked us up, again had no idea where the hostel was and ended up dropping us off a block away from the hostel!
So I have been to Argentina before, in 2007 I took a trip with a friend to Uruguay and Buenos Aires. I feel we did BA enough justice to not have to go again, but even on that trip, there was an obvious difference between friendly Uruguay and 'I want to run you over in my car' Argentina. Hopefully I'm proved wrong over the next few days, but the start was not good! I also will not be going to Uruguay on this trip. Again, we hit Montevideo, Colonia, Punta del Este and Punta de Diablo. We saw so much of the country and countryside that there is no need to see it all again.
James, Sarah and I dumped off our bags at the Break Point Hostel and went in search of dinner. We settled on Mexican food and more beer!! Oh man! I guess it'll be good to build a tolerance for the wine tour! Food was good, forget what I had but was very satisfied. In Mendoza, well on a Saturday night, no-one ventures out for food till 11pm. So our empty restaurant at 9pm was full by the time we left at 1130pm.
We headed straight for bed. Before nodding off to sleep, we duct taped the fan plug to the wall, I got fully dressed for bed, in case of bed bugs/mosquito's and well, it was a thoroughly hot and disgusting night. I drank almost 2 litres of water in the night and literally felt like I was swimming in my own sweat! Horrible! Our room must have been above the furnace or something! Crazy!
Miles walked 1.59
Temp 32C 90F Chile (got to Mendoza in the evening)
Day 33 February 6th - We set the alarm for an early start, to get out to Mr Hugo and start this wine tour. We were not as quick to get up as we would hope. I decided on a dip in the pool, seeing as I had a pretty disgusting night. Jumped in, and it was freezing! Freezing! James came out, took one look at me and walked back to the room! I swam for a bit then off to shower, where I found I had been bitten all over my neck, the one part of my body I hadn't covered. I presume bed bugs, but you never know, maybe a mosquito got in.
Breakfast was dry dry bread, but a jug of what tasted like orange squash (cordial), I must have downed about 5/6 glasses! Very tasty! Sarah popped upstairs for a nap, James and I discussed Sheffield Wednesday players while watching a rerun of Everton v Blackpool on the telly. We really should get going, but we weren't. When we about to leave, in walks Abe! Big smile on his face 'Hey guys! You missed me, didn't you!?' funny guy. We told him our plan, he got ready in two minutes and we were on our way.
Mr Hugo's bike hire tour place is about $40 Arg by taxi or $1.80 Arg each on a bus. We ask at reception, they tell us where to get the bus from and wish us a good day.
We walk 20 minutes to find our bus, get on, and find out they have the most pointless system on the bus. Coins only, to be entered into a machine, driver carries no change (well unless you are very buxom and beautiful), so we are kicked off. We walk to a coffee shop, Abe chats to a guy and gets us change. Result, back on a bus and we're on our way.
It's on the bus that James turns to me and says, 'it will be open on Sunday, won't it?', 'Of course it will be!' was my reply. The website didn't give any indication it was not open on Sunday, nor did reception at the hostel. Strangely enough, for a big city, it was very quiet. Bus was empty, road was empty!
We get to Mr Hugo and he is closed! Crap! All other places are closed. We find out that only one Winery is open on a Sunday, although that did not stop some guy called Mr Orange bikes trying to harass us to hire his bikes, scary man!! Why didn't the git at our hostel tell us??!!
Now, we have the problem of having no change for the bus back. We ask at a petrol station, guy has $1 ARg worth, but said it's a big problem as no-one has change or uses change! we buy some drinks and gain another $1 ARG in change. Another problem is they have a $2 ARG note, so are happy to give this out in change than coins. We ask, sorry Abe asks another 3 shops, all say no, I bought some gum and got another coin, but we ran out of shops. The unhappy coin face depicts our stupid situation.
We settle on finding someone to grab a bottle of wine and try enjoy our day at least. We went for a bottle of White (Vuela, Savignon Blanc, Crianza Sorre Cias, 2010 Mendoza) and it was one the best whites I've ever tasted. It cheered the mood.
Abe then spoke to an old Dutch couple who were on holiday, he dug deep and gave us $1 ARg in coins for nothing, such a kind couple. Then, to top it off, the owner of the restaurant came out, shock our hands, asked if we liked the wine and said, he heard about our situation so was on his way home to get some coins to bring back for us! My mind is changing on Argentina, such a great guy for doing that for us coinless tourists!
We now had enough coins for the bus home. So, we did what anyone else would have done, we bought another bottle of the white! We thanked the owner said our goodbyes and caught the bus to the central bus station. Seeing as we missed out on the wine tour today, I needed to change my bus ticket for my onward journey to Cordoba. Instead of leaving first thing, I changed it to last thing and got charged a tenner for doing so, it will be so worth it!!
The evening was dedicated to the Superbowl. Since the Pats were knocked out, I've been saying that the Packers looked the best team (didn't I Dave?), we bumped into Chris and Adam (from meeting them in Santiago) and eventually found a posh restaurant that turned one room into a TV room.
Cheaply, at half time we walked up the road for some cheap eats. Abe and James settled on a complito and Sarah and I went for a Pizza, each! Took 15 mins to come out and was disgusting, cheese was so runny, and worst of all, Sarah's wasn't even cooked properly. She ate some of mine and threw hers away. Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, Chris was tucking into some ribs, they looked amazing!
By the time the game ended, we were exhausted, it was past midnight and we still had the wine tour to go. We agreed to meet Chris and Adam for the wine tour, told them we were getting an 830am bus.
Straight to bed, although during the night, Abe got out and found a room that was empty with a fan in front of him, although the poor baby had to turn it off at one point because it got too cold! Meanwhile, the other 3 of us had another poor night sleep!
miles walked 0.64
Temp 28C 82F
Day 33 February 7th - Right, I thought it would be fun to write this part of Mendoza a little drunk, so I drank some big Brahmas in Asuncion, walked to the Internet cafe, and the place was closed, nuts Still I had a great night sleep. This was one of the best days on my trip so far, so I hope I do this justice!
Ok, this day I woke up after another poor night sleep! I found Abe, woke him up, we all got ready and after another dull breakfast (except for the delicious squash) we were on our way, slowly. Again, we had the issue of coins for the bus, being a Premier customer with HSBC, no problem, I'll just pop in, ask for coins and go. Yeah, after ten minutes in the queue, we called it quits. Fifteen people in the queue! Other banks had lines around the corner! Then we stopped for coffee and when we got to the bus stop, we waited 20 minutes for our one to turn up.
We finally make it to Mr Hugos after 10am, after promising Chris and Adam we'd be there for 9am. We found the two of them, sitting comfortably, drinking Mr Hugos local toxic red wine. Just imagine the worst red you bought, say when you were at uni, trying to justify to yourself that 1.99 for a bottle should surely taste good! This stuff, would permanently stain my lips and mouth! No chance.
We're given a map, of around 9 winery's, food places, olive oil plants, chose our bikes and set off. Of course, James and Abe wanted a bike with a basket!!
We headed for the museum, man it stunk! Apparently, very infrequently, they empty some big barrels of wine, and we could smell the final remains, it was gross. Adam was in a courtyard reaching!
We soon left, and cycled on, it was so fun, imagine, Monday morning, you're on a bike, you have all day to drink wine and taste delicious treats and you're with some great friends! How better could it get?
It's the first time I'd rode a bike on a proper road for a while and not long before I'm comfortable cycling with no hands! I know, show off, but it's fun and saves your back!
We arrive quickly at a chocolate place, A La Antigua. Within a few minutes, we are trying the local olive oil. Then the vinegar, it was sweet and tasty and worth a second, third and forth taste! Then jams, I tried the raspberry, then olives, then olive spreads and more and more. Then it came to liqueurs! Absinthe was first named and had to be the drink of choice. I haven't tried any since I took a bottle to uni for the 2nd year. This stuff was 75% and 4 of us tried it. Before we tried it, the lady, soaked some sugar on a spoon in the absinthe, let it rinse, the lit it, when burned out, dropped it in the drink, then we downed it!
Once we left this place, we decided as a group, to cycle to the place the furthest away on the map, and work our way back towards Mr Hugos. The pace was fast and I was able to keep near the front at the beginning. It must have been over 45 minutes later, and Abe is pushing me forward while he is cycling himself! Well, the guy has cycled around Amsterdam all his life!! Errm, tough gears, heavy bike, carrying a rucksack, drunk already, whatever excuse fits the bill.
Next was Carinae wines. We're greeted, asked to sit for a few minutes and pour a bottle of water on my head (the free one from mr Hugo) I then try claim everyone's water. We are shown around this wine yard, bought by an electrician and his wife in the 90s, it's been around since 1928 and produces 100000 bottles a year.
We head into a cool room where the wine is stored, the younger the wine, ie Rose, the less time it has in the barrel, the older the wine (and darker) the more time in the barrel. The room is super cool and we are very grateful to the pretty young guide.
Abe then makes a great comment. The guide, Olliolio (it sounded it amazing, no idea how to spell it) told us that each barrel cost 1000 Euros to buy. Abe then says 'I could do the same for 500 Euro'. Within seconds, this girl is knocking him down, saying that the barrels are a specialised skill to produce and no glue or adhesive is used whatsoever. He accepts this comeback and we love this girl.
Ok, onto tasting. The young pretty thing, offers us 3 wines to taste, and shows us what to do. Lift glass by base, or neck, never the glass itself, smell, spin, then smell again then taste around your tongue, covering all the taste buds. I figure there would be spitting after, but no, finish your glass Tony, oh dear, this day might be a mess!! I try the Rose and two reds. Of course Rose is gay!! Abe then says Rose is shite or something, and is knocked down by this girl again! Man she is tough, and he goes quiet!
We finish our wine, say goodbye and head to lunch! Man time is flying by! We bump into a couple more people for lunch and even order two more bottles of wine, a couple of whites (Bodega 1869, Familia, Di Tommaso, Vino Blanco, Torrontos, Mendoza). I order a Caprese salad and man, it had plenty of tomatoes!!
Everyone is feeling relaxed, having a fun day and we are all making jokes and having a good laugh. I'm on particular good form. The two extras make their excuses, I think we were too loud and then we head to Bodega Tempus Alba. I try grab some in action cycle pictures.
We were at the point now where cycling became much easier, but also, we lost interest in the wine yards themselves and just wanted wine. Again, for so many pesos we got three more glasses, bigger sizes this time. I try put up some resistance but no-one listens! We sit there for a while, sipping one at a time, and try guess how old the waitress in the picture (blue dress) was. I went for 26, more of a hopeful guess, seeing as I was the oldest in the group. When I spoke to her again, I tried to change the guess to 17!! Man, in the end Abe was right, 22! There was supposed to be a prize for guessing correctly, but seeing as it was him.......!
We got back to the bikes, they were parked awkwardly and a few fell, of course, giggles ensued! Next stop was just over the road, but once we got there and parked, James realised he had the wrong bike! So the 6 of us walk upto this beautiful winery, in hysterics and really shouldn't have been let in. We were shown a tour of this new place, no idea what the name was, and now the choice was for 4 glasses!! I suggested sharing!! And was put down again!
This guy poured normal size glasses, I went for champagne, white (and drank Sarahs white) and a couple of reds. Look at the mess on the table, we all had 4 glasses each and tried to figure out how to down all 4 in 20 minutes and make the beer garden in time!! No chance, too much talking, laughing and joking meant we left this place when the beer garden closed!
The ride back to Mr Hugos was long but fun. We kept overtaking each other, you became less concerned about the road and big trucks passing you and more concerned about who was in front of you. At one point, I was cycling around a round a bout, saw Adam was behind me but in turning lost my balance and fell off my bike into the road. Adam just stops and laughs, I'm confused but lucky no car was passing.
We make it back to Mr Hugo's in one piece. For 7 hours of time allowed, we only hit 5 places and a place for lunch! Time went so fast. Of course, with 10 plus wines inside me, I saw a group of people were posing for a picture, so joined in. They didn't seem to mind, of course for our turn, Katie joins us (girl whose picture I spoilt) in the middle of the group!
We jump on the bus, get back to Mendoza, I only have an hour till my bus to Cordoba. I've had a great day but need to push on now to make my bus. Didn't get the chance to say farewell to Adam and Chris, finally, two great Australians I met! Got my bags, Abe tells me again I'm too nice for my own good, but was happy to meet me. Sadly, some quick goodbyes to James, Sarah and Abe and I'm in a taxi to the bus terminal. I've been so lucky to have spent almost a week with some great people, very lucky indeed and loved every moment of the time spent with them.
Cordoba is only 8 hours away, I'm still a little drunk so nod off to sleep straight away!! A great day!
Miles walked 0.3
Temp 30C 86F