. Their German Shephard (Astor) has the run of the place and would not stop requesting people to play fetch with him). Also in my room was Thomas, Paula from England, Larry from Austin, Nicole from Germany and Fiona from Englad...a very decent group. Thomas and I decided to walk around a bit, book our bus tickets out and grab some lunch. I had originally wanted to book my ticket on a Wednesday...giving me 3 nights here...but they were sold out...so I had to pick either Tuesday or Thursday. I picked Tuesday which meant I would only have two nights here...a decision I would regret. We walked through the main plaza, up the main bar drag and to the Park San Martin...the largest park in South America. Just as we were about to get sick of the park and flag down a cab...we notice a group of people linking up at a gate dressed in soccer jerseys. Using my pigeon spanish I ask what is going on and it turns out there is a huge soccer game that night between the local team (Godoy Cruz) and River Plate from Buenos Aires. We find two tickets in the popular section for sale and we´re pumped...we are going to a premier league game later that night. Back at the hostel, Mike warns me not to bring anything to the game....including my watch and my passport. He basically scared the shit out of me and says don't do anything stupid. Turns out he over reacted and the game and the fans were briliant. I don't think I have ever heard as many spanish cuss words in my life...but that was part of the fun. Unfortunately, River Plate scored a late goal so the home team lost, but the experience was well worth it...I even bought a Godoy Cruz jersey to get to the spirit of things
. Had a great steak dinner and a bottle of wine then back to Hostel Lao where evidently Larry and a couple others had drank them out of beer.
The next moring after a few hours of sleep, Paula and I head off for the Bikes and Wine tour. It cracks me up that someone actually got away with opening up a company that encourages drinking and riding on a bike....would never fly in the States. If your are only paying 35 pesos like we did...it is not worth it as most of the wineries actually charge you for a tasting...what a ripoff. Ater a couple hours of riding, we meet a few other Americans on bikes and did the tour with them. It would have been better had the weather been nicer and the wineries not so cheap. I did find a couple good bottles at Familia de Tommassa....good stuff. That night it is Mikes (the owner of the hostel) birthday...so around 9PM everyone loads into 4 taxis and we head to Palenque...an awesome, awesome restaurant. So many good steaks were devoured and so many good bottles of wine were drunk. On the way back to the hostel we walk and essentially bar hop the entire way...ending up in an Irish pub where some vile Tequilla-like substance was consumed. I left around 2 but the party was still going strong until 4 or 5. I only took my small camera so I don't have any pictures to show you the debauchery...but perhaps that is a good thing. Earlier that day, Nicole from Germany and Anna from North Carolina told me about a hike they were doing tomorrow...so I sign up and agree to get up at a god awful hour the morning after Mikes birthday fiesta
Day 3 we load into a bus and head to a refugio to do a bit of hiking. The weather sucked...rain in the mountains...but it stopped just long enough for us to hike up a nearby mountain and see some nice scenery. It would have been better but there were many clouds at the top and a bit of freezing rain. Oh well...it was a great hike and towards the top I felt really, really good...first time in a while. Back at the hostel around 4PM and I cracked open one of my bottles of wine and chilled in a hamock for a couple hours...it was a welcome treat to finally relax a bit. Had a good dinner with the gang from the hostel and made it an early night.
The fourth day Fionna, myself and two others from the hostel signup for a bus wine tour...which like the bikes and wine tour...was a bit disapointing...until the very end. We got to tour two wineries and a liquor factory....one small winery and one large one. Unfortunately the small one was the same one I visited during the bikes and wine tour so that sort of blew. Bought a nice blend wine from the large winery and not much else. Around 3PM we are all starving and here is where the tour paid for itself...we arrived into a private restaurant and walked down a vineyard covered path to a private dining room where the door was opened and we saw the most incredible spread of food I have seen yet on this trip
. The owner came out and said this was just the appetizer and we needed to pace ourselves...he was right. So many meats, cheeses, snacks...and then more meat, pasta, epenadas and finally desert. Oh...and did I mention wine...lots and lots of red wine. The tour was worth the price just for that lunch. Final night so we loaded about 10 of us into a couple cabs that night and had another great meal...and a few more drinks at the Irish bar. I think I may have professed my love for a cute British girl that went with us...but that happens sometimes when I drink and am in a good coma. Back at the hostel around 2AM....a few people went swimming...I went to bed.
Final day in Mendoza was spent doing not much at all...which was great....for I had a 20 hour bus ride to Bariloche...fortunaly in full cama class. Larry from Austin who was a resident mascot at the hostel was also heading this way so he got on the same bus. Looking forward to Bariloche...but it will be hard to beat the good times at Mendoza and Hostel Lao.
What a great time I had in this city. I had initially intended to only spend a couple of nights here...but given the great people, my great hostel and the awesome wine, I decided to stick around for 5 days. Thomas (swiss guy from Salta) was actually on the same bus as I so we decided to check out a hostel that was highly recommended by Inge...called Hostel Lao. 18 hours in a full cama (nearly a full bed) bus ride, we arrive into Mendoza. The temparture was perfect, the sun was shining and we decided to walk the 10 blocks with our packs to the hostel. Thomas had booked in advance...I hadn´t. We knock on the door of what looks to be a private house and we meet Mike...the 27 year old English owner of the hostel. I told him I had also booked online and I guess the system must have lost my reservation...he said no worries and hooked me up with a upper bunk in a 6 bed dorm room. Mike and his Argentine girlfriend (Celeste) live in the hostel with us in their private room and have really taken a private house and made it into a great hostel