Wine Country - take 2

Trip Start Jan 10, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bummed about the flight situation and the rain, and feeling terribly sick, I almost didnt mind journeying 14 hours north again, away from the miserably cold weather. We decided to go back to San Rafael for a day since we werent able to rent bikes when we were there before. Im really glad we did this because it turned out to be a really pleasant, sunny day and it is a great place to bike ride because it is very flat, and most of the route is on a bike path without cars. As you bike away from the town center the street becomes tree-lined and very few buildings - mostly just bodegas and fields of grapes. It was so relaxing to just slowly peddle along, the sun on my face, admiring the fiery red leaves and landscape. Though there are many wineries along this route we decided that 3 was sufficient - after going to so many, its kinda painful to sit through the same 30 minute explanation (in spanish) about how wine is made. The first one we visited was a really old winery, the oldest in San Rafael, with a small production. In contrast, the second place we visited had around 2 dozen different types of wine and huge showroom which was cool - though we noticed the bigger places are stingier on the tastings. We decided to bike to the biggest winery, which is also the furthest away, and were very dissapointed when we arrived and found out that it was randomly closed that day. On our ride back, however, we impulsively decided to stop one last place which we had skipped before, and a guy inside agreed to give us a quick tour even though tour hours were over. Ironically, this unofficial, quick tour turned out to be the best of them all - instead of just looking at barrels, we got to see the bottling process of champagne which was cool to watch, and we got to taste it right off the conveyor belt. After trying that kind, the guy walked over to this giant steel vat full of another type of champagne and filled our glass directly from it. Both champagnes were very tasty and we are hoping we can find this label back home because it is exported to the US apparently.
After spending the night in San Rafael we took a bus the next morning back up to Mendoza, which is a beautiful 3 hour drive with views of snow capped (some totally covered) mountains. I didnt mind coming back here either because as I wrote in the previous entry I really liked it here. Unfortunately the cold I had developed while in the lake district would not go away and was feeling pretty terrible that first day, so we ended up resting alot. Our second day in Mendoza was a national holiday - the 25th of May - and we spent most of the day at this plaza where there were tons of food stalls, including lots of bbq-action which made Asaf very happy, and me slightly ill because everywhere I looked there were entire pigs and such roasting over huge open fires. Ew. In addition there was a big stage set up and we saw a bunch of different youth dance groups do this traditional Argentinean dance involving guys and girls and white hankerchiefs. It was fun to watch, though after a few hours we got bored of it and wandered home. Our last day in town we walked up to a small hill to see a monument then wandered through the park again. With each passing day we each became just a little bit more antsy about going home - especially since we had already explored Mendoza, it kinda felt like we were just killing time (and time goes SO slow when you´re waiting for something, let me tell you.) So after 3 days there I was excited and very ready to go back to Buenos Aires because that meant we were even closer to going home. Nearly 5 months after the fact I´m just feeling very ready to get back to my family and friends....despite how amazing and fun this adventure has been.


So often on this trip, after we left a city I felt like I could have done a little more if we had an extra day, so it was some consolation to losing our flights to head back to two places where I felt exactly that.  San Rafael felt like a total bust the first time we went there but after doing the bike tour of the wineries it gave a new appreciation to our previous stay.  When we came here the first time we weren´t able to do the tour and had to settle for the canyon; it was beautiful but you´re never quite happy settling for anything.  With the tour behind us though, I realized the canyon was the second best thing you could do in San Rafael and I was glad we had went. 
As for Mendoza I still wanted to try some more restaurants, see a couple of places and most importantly take a tour of Ayzem Beer factory.  Bad luck prevailed to my great dissapointment, the factory is closed on weekends and they weren´t giving tours the following week because of brewing classes, also totally full.  As some consolation I was able to find the beer bottled at a local artisan store.  To top off our stay we purchased tickets for an executive bus; this is basically an overnight bus where your seats are suppose to incline all the way to a bed.  Besides the bed, we also had a personal TV with four movies to choose from, a good dinner and free small bottle of wine...classy.   The end of the trip has never felt closer and I´m so anxious to get back now I don´t know how I will survive the last three days.
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