Mendoza, Malbec & mega-mojitos

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 16, 2011

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, April 16, 2011

So having spent a (very short) night's sleep in Santiago airport’s departure lounge we got the first bus to Mendoza and promptly slept for most of the stunning journey up through the Andes to Argentina. We did manage to wake up in time to appreciate the series of more than 30 hairpin bends in the hill up to the border and get a glimpse of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside Asia.  In Mendoza it was time for a family reunion as both our parents were coming out to Argentina for a few weeks who we found (surprise surprise) happily ensconced in a wine tasting bar.

After a lazy day in eating huge ice creams in Mendoza’s gorgeous park where Gordon won, yet again, at backgammon, Gordon’s parents elected to do some more wine tasting while the Beards & boys spent a gaucho day of horse riding and BBQs.  Richard had never been on a horse before (unless you count donkey rides on the beach, which we don’t) and managed to canter, stay on and look remarkably comfortable.  To celebrate his success we went for a few drinks after a big family dinner that night. We ended up in a bar that had something called a "Mega-Mojito" on the menu. We promptly ordered 4. They were Mojitos in pint glasses.  Uh oh.  The net result was that whilst tangoing home Richard managed to walk straight off the side of the pavement into one of the 3 foot ditches that run along all of Mendoza’s streets and grazed half the skin off his arm.  That may sound like an unlucky accident but they are on every street and we’d been joking that afternoon that you couldn’t possibly miss them.  Woops.  Gordon’s attempt at first aid was to spray it with eye drops (they were the only liquid in the first aid kit) so it perhaps wasn’t surprising that come morning it was not looking very pretty.

So next morning we emerged to meet our parents feeling a teensy bit delicate – for a day of wine tasting round the Maipú region.  Perfect timing.  After a restorative MacDonald’s en route we arrived in Maipú to hire bikes to cycle round the wineries and discovered they had two tandems which we just had to have.  We may have looked ridiculous but the sun was out, the Malbec was delicious, the hair of the dog worked a treat and we had a great day cycling between vineyards for tastings and nibbles.  At the final vineyard, Claire was very excited to find that the owner was French rather than Argentinian (having been slightly frustrated at not being able to speak any Spanish with the locals so far on the trip) and so, cleared her throat, pulled out her best French accent and said “Ahhhh... oui, je parle Franche”. It was a classic and we would not let her forget it for the rest of the trip. We unhappily dragged ourselves away at the end of the day only because the four of us were getting the night bus to Buenos Aires.  Happily, we’d underestimated the Argentinian nightbuses. We boarded to find huge business class-style seats, after which the attendant came round offering us champagne, then a hot meal with wine, and finally a whisky or Tia Maria nightcap whilst they played Hot Fuzz – in English.  Definitely a Carlsberg bus!
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