Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, June 22, 2012

I booked a wine tour late last night, because if there is one thing you need to do in Mendoza it's sample some offerings from their second biggest export.  This means I am up with the lark (oil is the first) to venture into some local vineyards and convince myself I'm not saucing my head with refined wine tasting.  As I enter the mini van at 8am I'm dismayed to find it loaded with couples and a few obvious candidates for wine snobbery.  I know exactly what kind of day it's going to be.

And indeed it is.  We're visiting three wineries and sampling the goods following the short tour which nobody really pays attention to.  At least people kid on that they're listening, some of whom are taking bizarre photographs of things that don't particularly merit a photograph.  Like a big metal urn.  Or a tap.  Or other such wine type nonsense.  I might as well join in because the stuff the guy is waffling on about is boring me to tears.  Hurry up and get to what we all came for.

It's reminiscent of the movie Sideways, as the first winery is the large corporation owned by the company that pretty much makes every major alcoholic drink from Guinness to Smirnoff Vodka.  It's a very polished, smart affair, with a super warehouse containing over 5000 barrels of wine, aging in French oak casks.  We move on to smaller venues, with less supply, and finally to the creme de la creme where you can only buy the product from the winery itself, nothing is sold in shops.  I'm tempted to part with a large fee for a bottle which was specifically made to celebrate the daughter of the winery owner getting married.  It's about $300 if sold in shops in the US (which they don't do) but I get it for a snip at $40.  That's one to hide in the drawer and save for when I really want to impress a girl.  Or, tank it alone when I come back from the bar and I've no booze left.

I'm trying to gauge the dynamic of the group with a few well chosen jokes, including one regarding screw top wine bottles only being in use so you can get hammered on a park bench.  It's falling on deaf ears.  Hardly a titter when I attempt to break the ice with other such alcoholic observations, and the group includes three Australians.  Clearly they've spotted me for the drinker I am, rather than the refined wine critic everyone else is claiming to be.  90 per cent of the gathering clearly consists of the wine snob.  I'm the cat among the pigeons.

I'm also balking at the lovey dovey couple nonsense in clear evidence.  There are no less than five pairs, all vying for the best canoodler.  Kisses, stoking and cuddling are all on view, each appearing to try and out-couple the other.  I've always hated seeing massively obvious public displays of affection, but the one that really grinds my gears is a guys hand on the neck of his partner, guiding her along.  She's not a fucking puppet, so pack that in.

Nonetheless it still turns out to be an enjoyable day, primarily because I'm getting hammered on cracking wine.  The lunch was spectacular too, a feast of cold cuts, tapas and pasta, all washed down with liberal helpings of red.  I say liberal, but that was only for me.  Most have had enough with the tasting by that time, so I'm left to consume my own weight in the stuff.  Needless to say I'm THAT guy on the wine tour.  Some are looking at me with disgust as I polish off another glass that somebody else was letting go to waste, and to think they spit this stuff out and throw it into a bucket?!

So my plan to take the night bus to Cordoba takes a massive nose dive, and following a quick siesta at around 8pm, I'm out on the town with a new found hostel buddy and a kilt.  Argentinian partying doesn't really get going until late, with meals eaten around 10pm, but it certainly goes on until the very early hours of the morning.  We've headed round to one of the party hostels which is putting on an all you can eat meat feast, and is populated by a number of very attractive locals.  However I've got eyes for a tall blond from Lichtenstein.  

 "She wants to ask you a question" chimes her friend at her table.  

 I lean across to see her turn shy, shaking her head grinning.  

 "The answer is no" comes my swift response, setting the table to roar while she flashes a smile.  Some time and sauce later she's told me she prefers Scots, then I see her leaving with a local guy dragging her out by the hand.  This was all because I spent the next two hours playing pool and not following up the obvious attraction.  I am my own worst enemy.  Still, I retired undefeated.

We don't hit the town until around 3am.  How utterly insane and amazing that is.  They party hard here and with every bar and club up and down the street stonkingly full, you can see the fiesta in full flow.  It's almost too crazy, so much so I spend most of the night standing outside talking to people, getting high fives and planting cheek kisses on birthday girls much to their friends mirth.  I'm a celebrity once again, and yet once again I go home alone, falling over my own self importance.  All this not before spotting one of the most incredible women I've seen in my life.  I kid you not, an Argentinian Eva Green, and you know how I feel about her.  She speaks to me first, within seconds I've asked if she has a boyfriend and within seconds it has been confirmed.  In spite of this, I spend a good while barking at her that she's the devastatingly beautiful.  Thanking me, she slips away before I can pry at the cracks.  She's probably been dating him for 10 years anyway.

The next one I speak to turns out to be 17.  It's not good you know.  Just like the girls back in Chile, the women here are deceptively young.  I can hear the police sirens now, banged up in an Argentinian jail.  I beat a hasty retreat to a burger joint and call it a night.  Now I'm just going to have to go out tomorrow.  

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