After a surprisingly comfortable 17 hour bus journey involving 4 English films, tea and coffee, a cannelloni dinner with a random ham and cheese Swiss roll, we arrived in Mendoza. This was a far bigger town than we had imagined! We met a lovely Austrailian girl called Shauna and a Swiss guy called Martin in the reception of the hostel we were staying in and off we trotted into town to go to the laundrette and find a tourist information office to plan an afternoon activity! The tourist office recommended a city walking and wine tasting tour….sounds good on paper but in reality ended up being extremely overpriced for what we got. We headed back to the hostel to check into our private room and meet up with Samantha (the Austrailian girl from Rio and BA).
That afternoon off we all went for our walking tour…our guide was really friendly and knowledgeable about the city but this still did not justify the price we had to pay. After thirty minutes we stopped at a wine tasting venue where we were seated in a tasting room and given a glass of red and a glass of white wine with some warm bread and olive oil snacks…very nice start to our one tasting in Mendoza! After this we were off on a tour of the plazas of the city and to see buildings of architectural or historical significance. At the end of the tour we were all slightly miffed at having yo part with large sums of money, but we did get an afternoons entertainment. Feet weary, we headed back to the hostel in time for the free wine hour. Enjoyed a few glasses and then headed to a nearby Peruvian restaurant for dinner.
The next morning we were joined by two of Shauna’s friends Kim and Melissa. Pack lunch bought, we all followed our organised honorary tour guide Shauna to catch a bus to Maipu for wine tasting. Here, we hired bikes from the cutest old man alive called Mr Hugo, and off we set, with Shauna leading a fast paced “tour de Chile” pack with me in close pursuit. We were on a schedule…vineyards shut at 5 and it was already gone 1.30pm! Our first stop was fortunately the furthest away and involved a tour of the establishment, (much to our dismay as we wanted to crack on with the testing), followed by three wines to taste. A group of people from our hostel were also there so the numbers grew! With wine as fuel we got back on our bikes to the next slightly fancier vineyard for three more delicious wines and a beautiful terrace seating position with views over the vineyard.
Unfortunately Samantha’s bike gained a puncture on the way to the next vineyard, so Phil and Shauna valiantly took it in turns to run, while Samantha rode their bike and Martin escorted the puncture bike along. We gave the bicycles back in to Mr Hugo, hugged our farewells and walked two minutes up the road for get more wine 🙂 what a lovely way to spend the day!
It was mine and Phil’s last night 😦 so I took Phil out for a posh early birthday meal in town – it was worth the money – delicious melt in your mouth beef surrounded by blue cheese and spinach and a thin pastry case, all washed down with yet more Malbec – yum. Needless to say we left the restaurant happy. With Phils last afternoon we went out for coffee and cake and a wander around the city.
With a heavy heart I waved farewell to my travel buddy of three weeks – and what a three weeks we had had. From football matches and tango in Buenos Aires, the beaches of Uruguay, hiking in Patagonia and drinking wine in the land of Malbec, we had literally been to the end of the world and back. I drowned my sorrows by ordering a Chinese take away and sharing three bottles of wine with Martin and Samantha….and so my solo travels continued….