the land of wine and where we hung out with gauchos on horsebacks
12.12.2008 - 16.12.2008
Arrive in Mendoza in the morning after another 20 hour journey. Hostel Chimbas is cool although a bit inconvenient outside of the city- near the bus terminal but that is in a really dodgy area. Run by a lovely lady and her son which is nice but is definitely a bit weird.
We decide not to waste any time but to do a wine tour that day. We are in the land of wines so why waste any time????? We get the bus out to Maipu which is one of the wine areas and go to Mr. Hugo´s to rent some bikes. We are greeted by Mr. Hugo himself who is a lovely man. Unfortunately only crappy bikes left but hey we only need them to get us from one place to another…So off we go with the maps of all the bodegas in the area. First stop is a lovely winery called Di tommasso where we also stop for a lovely lunch and yummi wine. We are well tipsy and there is something really odd about cycling around tipsy surrounded by equally tipsy tourists and as the day goes on people get friendlier and friendlier- as we leave for an olive factory where we get a tour and lovely tasting. Across the road is another bodega called Canea- another small winery where a lovely girl gives us a tour and winetasting. Ok, so now we are well tipsy but decide to go to another bodega before they close. Our brains are totally mellowed by the wine and we are in a rush so we set off in one direction which unfortunately turns out to be the wrong one. Shit. We end up cycling for over an hour longer then necessary and when we arrive at Hugos slightly peed off we are met by a funny sight. Loads of tourists who have returned to leave their bikes are hanging out at Hugo´s drinking wine and it is not long until Mr. Hugo has filled our glasses with a lovely Malbec. We seat ourselves with a gang consisting of a Aussie couple and a couple from NZ and two sisters form Holland who also stay at our hostel. As if we weren't drunk enough Mr. Hugo keeps on filling our glasses with wine. We had had close to 2 bottles of wine each on top of everything else. All free of charge. .....you really get your moneys worth at Mr. Hugos- that is for sure. He is such a nice man and we have a great laugh. We eventually leave Mr. Hugo´s for the bus at around 10 in the evening. At that stage we have been drinking wine for 10 hours or so and the busjourney back is great fun for some strange reason.....
As if we don´t have enough to drink we decide to meet up to go dancing. Yeah right…that was never going to happen. However, just because we are in the same hostel as the sisters we end up making each other go- no way would we have mad it otherwise after all that wine. So we end up going into town and surprisingly enough no one else shows up. We end up going for more drinks but funnily enough we fade pretty quickly.. And oh do our heads hurt the next day or what…..We should have taken the lead from the others….
Next day seriously hungover. We make it into the city for some lunch and look around. Go for a snooze in the parque. We end up going home and having dinner in the hostel and hanging out with a nice bunch of guys that evening. Despite our hangovers we can´t resist but to have some more local wine that evening….
On the Sunday we have booked a day of horseriding at an estancia with Argentinean gauzchos. We are going with a lovely couple Hayley and James from Vancouver and a funny guy from Scotland called Philip who has lived in Gothenburg for years and speaks fluent Swedish.
So we drive out to the country side to this estancia and we meet our horses. We make it very clear that none but James has much experience and the gauzchos just smile at us and says hay no problemas. So K gets up on her horse first who immediately starts nervously walking around. He throws his head around and walks her into trees…Despite what the gauzchos is telling us this horse is not a calm one and everyone gets nervous as they are watching me trying to calm this horse down. We all expect some easy horseriding to begin with but the first thing we need to do is to go down this ridiculously steep hill. We would have trouble walking down that hill and they wanted us to go down on horses that were all but calm. We ask to go around in a circle at the ranch for practice and they just laugh at us. So right, time to attempt the hill. K´s horse goes second after Philip who makes it down ok. However her horse goes mad and decides to reverse in the middle of the hill and nearly clashes with the other horses going down the hill. In fact all horses do the same, they start going down a number of times and then refuse in the middle of it. We all go down eventually but poor Hayley has massive problems as her horse refuses and goes up, down and to the side like 20 times. So we eventually make it and only a few minutes into the ride we already begin to think we are going to die on these horses. this is definately not easy horseriding and the horses randomly walk, trot and gallop as they wish. One horse starts and they all follow. And the problem is that it is all massive hills up and down and the horses gallop up these mad hills and we hold on for dear life. the surroundings are really cool but we don´t get to appreciate them as we concentrate on hanging on for dear life. All that went on in our heads for the first couple of hours was please don't fall off, please don´t fall off. Please don´t let me die…..you get the picture. After a rocky start K and her horse started to get along ok. Well would be an exaggeration. Martin however had a nice horse but this does not mean that he walked around calmly all day- he liked to go a bit mental too.
By the time we reached the estancia we all absolutely loved it. Despite the rocky start, slightly mental horses and the definitely not beginners route it was an a mazing feeling to ride around the Argentinean countryside like that. We couldn´t wait to do it again. At the estancia we were met by the family on the ranch and they made a real argentine asado- bbq- which was absolutely gorgeous. It must be the nicest bbq we have ever had. Yummy. Over the asado we all swapped our near death experiences stories on the horses but we all agreed we had the best time ever.
When we arrived back at the hostel we decided to go for a snooze. His would be great only that K woke up feeling really bad. It turned out that she had got some kind of sun stroke. Riding around in the heat all day with too little sun protection and no hat- we never even got helmets- was not a good idea and she spent the rest of the day in bed as Martin hung out in the hostel.
Next day we were heading off to Salta late that evening. K felt better but not perfect but this did not stop us from arranging with James and Hayley to go for a tasting menu to one of the bodegas that day- hey a bit of wine and good food would make us sleep better on the bus.. Alan and John who were previously in Mendoza recommended us this bodega which had great food and wine. It says on the website that there is no need to call in advance so off we went in the taxi. Unfortunately as we got there they said it was full. Well first they said they were full, then we were allowed to sit in the garden and they gave us a lovely glass of rose and then they were full again. We then had to spend the next hour calling around for another place. Eventually we found a place and it turned out to be great. He tapiz bodega where we ended up was really beautiful and we had great wine and food. Having a long journey ahead of us did not stop us from having loads of good wine. We even topped it off by having a bottle of champagne. We had such a laugh and James and Hayley were really nice and fun…..When we arrived back at the hostel James had the bright idea of opening a bottle of champagne that he had bought. As we left for the bus we were very tipsy to say the least. It could have been a disaster on the long journey to Salta however we ended up topping up with a bit more wine on the bus and then had a lovely sleep all they way to Salta....