4 feet 2 mouths

walking and eating our way around the world

Archive for the tag “Mendoza”

Hermosa Mendoza (by Nathan)

Picturesque parque gerneral San Martín

Picturesque parque gerneral San Martín

It is exciting to be back in Argentina.  After three weeks of beautiful Brazil we were doing pretty well with the Portuguese.  Santiago spanish was incomprehensible to me.  They dropped all hard consonants, slurred the end of every word and spoke at rapid speed.  Although the Spanish is not the purest in Argentina, it was nice to descend from the majestic Andes into a place more familiar.  ¡Bienvenidos a Mendoza!

Ripe malbec grapes

Ripe malbec grapes

Our welcoming to Mendoza could not have been better.  Our first steps were met with a glass of malbec and an invitation to a homemade Italian dinner at our awesome accomodation, Hostal Lao.  Mmm licking my lips.

Harvesting grapes

Harvesting grapes

The malbec wine of the world is grown in Argentina and the bulk of it comes out of Mendoza.  Our timing was perfect and we arrived during the two weeks of harvest.  We tasted at several places and at each there was a flurry of work and the deliciously pungent smell of freshly crushed grape juice beginning fermentation.

Historic concrete vats

Historic concrete vats

The style of wine making is significantly different from what we see in northern and central California.  First of all, the vineyards are hundreds of years old and each cellar houses enormous concrete tanks.  At each vineyard we learned that they fermented, filtered and blended almost all of their wine entirely from these vats.  They also had their premium wines that they put in oak for three to six months.

Carmen biking to the next winery

Carmen biking to the next winery

The place to go for tasting wine is the Lujan De Cuyo area.  There are about fifty boutique wineries all with their own blends, cabernet, torrontes and of course malbec.  We rented a bike from Bacchus Bikes for $6USD and the owner gave us a map with his recommendations.  He even called ahead so that the wineries could expect us.  Each winery had an extensive walking tour through their facilities describing why their winemaking is superior.  Tours were mostly in English, but at times we would break into Spanish for clarity.

CarinaE vineyard

CarinaE vineyard

After the tour we would be led to a table overlooking the vineyard, or a pair of glasses tucked between rows of barrels in the cellar.  They would pour a delicious variety of wine and even the freshly pressed grape juice.

Our favorite winery was CarinaE which was actually in Maipu Valley.  We tasted an extensive variety of 14 different wines.  They were so good that we lugged two bottles around for two weeks afterwards.  The second best wines were at Alta, a bigger winery with an informative staff and generous pours.  We also tasted at Filosofos and Pulmony and at each place we learned a little bit more about wine and Argentina.

Mendoza bus and huge sidewalk trench

Mendoza bus and huge sidewalk trench

Back in town we had to be careful after our wine tastings.  The gutters of Mendoza are uncovered, meaning a nasty fall if you don’t pay attention!

Plate of food assembled at Govinda

Plate of food assembled at Govinda

Bife de chorizo at Don Mario

Bife de chorizo at Don Mario

We ate delicious food and we met new friends in Mendoza as well.  It was nice to get some satisfying veggies at the vegetarian per kilo restaurant Govinda.  Our new friends Nick and Caroline invited us to Don Mario for the biggest juiciest steak I have ever attempted to eat.  I learned that Argentinians can cook their meat, really good meat…just not in BsAs.

 Termas Cacheuta

Termas Cacheuta

We had an extra day so we decided to splurge and go to the Termas Cacheuta.  It was a spa tucked away inside a jagged and majestic canyon.  The pools varied from burn your back to freeze your ass.  We would bounce between the pools enjoying the various bubble jets and the time to relax.

Buffet lunch at  Termas Cacheuta

Buffet lunch at Termas Cacheuta

Lunch time meant that the pools cleared out and everyone rushed the buffet.  The choices were a large variety of veggies for a make-your-own salad and, of course, an asado of Argentinian meats.

Mini canyon and creek close to the termas

Mini canyon and creek close to the termas

Mendoza had some tantalizing tastes and beautiful views.  I was happy that we had the time to savor them both.

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The Best Bus Ride Ever (by Carmen)

Valley and creek

Valley and creek

Long bus rides come with the territory when traveling in South America.  Extremely long in some cases – I’m talking 24 hours or more!  Nathan and I have avoided such journeys, keeping our trips to 10 hours or less.  On some of our longer journeys we take an overnight to save on money and time.  These can actually be quite comfortable with seats that recline nearly flat.  But there are some bus rides worth being awake for. Such is the case with the trip from Santiago to Mendoza.

Andes cliffs

Andes cliffs

A few years ago my cousin traveled around South America.  She endured numerous bus hours but one trip in particular stuck out in her mind: Santiagoto Mendoza. Ever since, I’ve actually been looking forward to the eight hour journey.  (Thanks Adri!) The two cities are separated by the Andes. It’s a mean job for the bus to get up and over these mountains, but for us it made for spectacular views. 

A ribbon of road

A ribbon of road

Glacier in the distance

Glacier in the distance

As the bus trudged up switchback after switchback our eyes were practically glued to the windows.  We were enveloped by high cliffs carved by the swift river running alongside the road.  Glaciers peeked out from distant mountain peaks.  The drama of it all made the ride feel much shorter than it actually was.  Bring on the 24 hour bus trip!  Ok, not really but we are looking forward to more scenic drives through northwest Argentina.

Valley with mossy river

Valley with mossy river

Tall Andes valley

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