Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hostal Lagares - $90 for private double, share bath, breakfast

Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Early wakeup today to travel without too much heat and avoid crowds at the vineyards around Mendoza.

First lesson to learn in Mendoza - you need coins when you get on the bus. In the city they cost $1.10, and to get to Maipu its $1.40 (bus 173), and preferrably the exact change. If you put more the machine keeps it, and if you dont have any the drive doesnt help and you just have to ask around.

We arrived at Maipu and were immediately invaded by half a dozen kids offering "rent a bike" for the day. The fashion around Maipu is the "bike and wine" which basically is cycling from one vineyard to another tasting and visiting. Even the bus driver (public bus) recommended that we should go to one and gave us publicity. The one he recommended seems to be managed by the local police team!

We decided on walking to a couple of places given the high temperatures and the fact that we just dont see the point of cycling with half a litre of wine in the stomach at 35 degrees celsius. We soon found out our decision was correct when in the first vineyard a norwegian girl was tasting her wine and suddenly vomited all her breakfast all over the reception room! It was a bad show for Norway, and a real bad show for the wine company who had just offered her the free wine to convince the public to buy it!

Anyway, first visit was to Bodegas La Rural which is very recommended as it has a large museum of wine and is part of one of the best Mendoza names in wine (Felipe Rutini - recommended to us by our dear friend Hector alias "Fray Hielo").

For anyone that has been to any vineyard and visit in Spain, France or Germany it visit might be slightly disappointing (or better said "yep...we know about that") and there is nothing new to mention, just all the typical wine things.

We were given a wine to taste which they call "Museo" and which is only sold in their wineyard. It was OK but nothing to be overjoyed about. A good indicator of it is that at the vineyard they offered "one glass" of Felipe Rutini wine for $83 pesos (18 euros), while they were selling 6 bottles of "Museo" for $75 pesos (15 euros). In any case they managed to sell quite a few boxes.

Next visit was much more worth it. Its called "Historia y Sabores" (History and Tastes) just 10 mins walk from the La Rural vineyard. Its a small family run business which specialises in marmelades, chocolates and liquors, but without using any machinery or chemicals.

The interesting part is the mixes they make, and the tastes. The chocolate was good, but the liqours where very interesting to taste. The place offers a short visit and explanation of who they are and what they do, and then invite you to one liquor (with the next been $5 pesos each if you want more).

We tried 4 different ones, with the best being "Green Peper" and "Tabacco". Bottles were $23 pesos each or $13 pesos the small one. Well worth trying, but not cycling after that!

Marcos: How does one spell "liquour" anyway in English...I have spelt it in 3 different ways here just to cover all possibilities! No correcting please mum!

Lunch was in a small little place under the name of "Oh!! Madrid" which we did not look is just next to our hotel! The food was excellent and cheap! How does one get away from eating meat in Argentina? Well, simple: we are cooking tonight at the hostel!

We have a bottle of San Felipe (Merlot Roble 2005) which we bought for half the price at Mendoza Central Market compared to the vineyard. We will find out from our wine expert Hector Fray Hielo if its any good...but it tastes great!

Early day tomorrow to get to the mountains next to Chile (Uspallata) for probably our last 2 days in Argentina..depending on what we find there.

Cheerio until then: not sure if there will be any internet at the frontier so it might be a few days until we update.

Dont cry for us Argentina.....yep the San Felipe is kicking in!
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