Feliz Navidad

Trip Start Oct 17, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Valparaiso Region,
Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is not normally our favorite holiday, but this year we get to spend it in Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is the wine Capitol of South America, and happens to be where our most favoritest wine, Malbec, is produced. Plus Santa Cynthia is going to be in town with us.
So we are sharing a hotel room with Cynthia instead of a hostel with a bunch of drunks. Our room is right next to the pool, too.
The first night, Christmas Eve, we all go out to dinner at a recommended restaurant for a four course meal with open bar and a tango show. Lydia got in on the tango action, Kendra and Cynthia stuck to the champagne.
Christmas Day, Kendra wasn't feeling well so we took it easy. We had a nice breakfast at the Park Hyatt, and walked down to General San Martin park for an ice cream. The park is huge, bigger than Central Park, with a regatta, zoo, gym, and observatory inside. Though there was plenty to see at the park, it was also 90deg and a bit difficult to stay in the sun for too long. Outside of the park is the richest neighborhood of the city. With that came some really special architecture and mansions, both old and new. I think we all found houses we were ready to move into. For Christmas dinner we found a parilla with outdoor seating and shared really delicious chorizo, steak, and wine.
The next day was wine tour day! Cynthia had prearranged for us to visit a couple nearby wineries for some tours. At the first, we got a carriage ride through the vineyard and we were allowed to sample the unfinished wine straight from the vat. The second one had old style concrete vats that we had never seen, and we all found a new favorite wine: Bonarda.
That evening we got a table at Azafran, where we had one of the best meals ever. Goat and mushroom ravioli, grassfed fillet cooked rare, fish with couscous, blood sausage, chicken, and cheese empanadas, molten chocolate cake, and wine chosen from the wine cellar with the sommelier. Seriously one of the best meals we've ever had.
The next day we are back on the wine trail, this time on bikes. Just outside of town there are a couple of companies renting bicycles so that you can bike winery to winery on your own. So now we feel like we are exercising and can be more gluttonous. We stopped at a place that produced chocolates and olive based products and had a sampling of some of their chocolates, olive pastes, and liqueurs. Cynthia purchased a delicious chocolate and hazlenut (?) liquor, so if your ever in her house you shoil ask for a sample ;-) . The next stop was Trapiche winery, which has a Malbec we've purchased at Trader Joe's. What they don't sell at our local TJ is their Bonarda. It was good enough that we stole two more samples, and then got back on our bikes and pedaled off to our next destination... A beer garden. There we sat comfortably sipping blondes and snacking on empanadas and pork rinds. After we return from our bike excursion we have an early dinner at the same parilla... when in argentina, one can never have too much steak. The life.
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