Another 10 hours brought us to Mendoza, the heart of Argentina's wine country.The total hours on a bus up to this point was about 44 hours.This had all spanned from a Sunday night departure from Londrina and now, in Mendoza, was a Wednesday morning.After milling over our travel plans for the next few weeks over a cup of coffee, we figured out that we didn't have any time whatsoever to spend in northern Argentina if we wanted to get to Bolivia for a tour of the largest Salar (salt flat) in the world.
We decided on at least spending that evening in Mendoza to be able to soak up at least a little bit of wine before taking a morning departure to La Quiaca, on the border of Argentina and Bolivia, the next morning.We secured our passages and hopped on a local bus to head west of the well-irrigated city to a vineyard.The town of Mendoza is a desert as well and has been irrigated for a couple hundred years now, which is about how far back their history of winemaking goes.Channels and viaducts line every tree-lined street of the handsome city and continue to the outskirts where the smell of a stale bar prevails.Some of the streets are stained a dull purple and run-off water looks like a milky spilled barrel of wine in places.
We chose only one winery to visit on an LP recommendation as we only had that day starting around noon to see anything around Mendoza.La Bodega Rural was about a 30-40 min. ride outside town and the surrounding area was nothing but vineyards and olive trees, of course.We had expected the city of Mendoza and the surrounds to be much more quaint and rural, similar to the Napa, etc. areas of California. However, the areas, although pretty'ish (and the city of Mendoza is pretty cool as well with all of it's tree lined streets and large plazas) was pretty dry and had the feel of a suburb of farms.
We ended up not having to wait very long for a tour around (not very much of) the wineries operations and a well-stocked wine museum.The lady leading the tour showed all the signs of a tour guide having given 100-too-many tours, and even tough we didn't mind it was all in Spanish; it was the fact that she really didn't talk about anything!She would mostly just point and say, blah, blah…check it out if you want.After the sub-par tour we were "treated" to the "tourist grade" wine tasting and I'm not sure you could have considered it wine…I have had far better out of the box…even "Night Train" (from what I can remember) has a better taste.So after "shooting" what was left in my glass (so at least I got a free buzz) we decided to go over to the counter and see if the stuff you could buy was any better.
After sampling a glass we decided against wasting any more money on a bottle and we took our mid-day, wine buzzed, purple teeth havin' asses back to the bus-stop to catch the next back to town.I'm sure that given a little more research and time we could have had a great time in Mendoza and eventually found some of the best wine around. However, given our circumstances we had to just accept our constraints, have a nice dinner to commemorate our sixth month on the road, and catch our 25-hour bus-ride the next morning.
After arriving at the border in La Quiaca, we had spent a total of about 70 hours on buses in under a week…and we are far from done with that yet…