Ok I will never be a wine conosuer by any means but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the stuff. In fact I love wine, it is my drink of choice, red, white, rose or sparkling and I'm not fussy how it is served to me either, a glass (doesn't have to be a wine one), a cup, a bottle or a box. It all goes down the same way and that way is well!
So Mendoza was a treat for me! I was excited even before getting there. You only go to Mendoza for wine tours because the city itself isn't the prettiest or most exciting, in fact you'll find it hard to find something to do that doesn't involve taking a bus out of the city. We arrived really early into Mendoza and went straight to the hostel and to bed. We stayed in a really cosy/homely hostel which was more than suitable for our stay. It also had a decent breakfast with fruit so I was happy! We shared a room with 3 Brits and and Argentine, all were very nice. We ended up doing the wine tour with them, 2 Germans and 2 Canadians, all of whom were in our hostel. The Sunday we arrived we just walked around the city which wasn't very exciting but we needed a day of not doing anything at that stage. You also need days where you just catch up with friends and family like skype/whatsapp/facebook and email, you'd honestly be surprised how long that can take.
That night, we organised the wine tour through our hostel. All we had to book in advance were the bikes. You really don't need to waste money on tours, it's much easier to do it yourself and more fun. We got an early bus at 10am out to Maipu in Mendoza where all the Vineyards are. The thoughts of drinking that early were a little unsettling but 'when in Rome' and all that. We got off outside Hugo's bike shop where we picked up our very stylish red and yellow bikes with baskets. Get them with Hugo's because there the cheapest at 35 pesos and Hugo himself is a living legend!
On advice given, we cycled to the bottom of the vineyards and made our way back up (thanks Rob Rowan). That 10km cycle back very drunk would have been torturous and very dangerous otherwise. Also whoever said "the more the merrier" didn't have a clue what they were talking about because our big group was just chaotic! Some people wanted to go to only certain places, others couldn't keep up with the cycle and one of the Germans got locked after 2 tastings of wine! I just can't have people slowing me down especially when I set my own challenge of making 6 vineyard tastings (which of course I succeeded in, but only just). Anyway my point is, the less people you do it with the better and pick those people carefully, the ones you know that can keep up. It's like a night out back home, pick the reliables otherwise you'll just be disappointed. Off we cycled down through the vineyards on a very hot day may I add. Our first two vineyards were two of my favourites. We got a tour of the wine cellars and a full description of the process involved in producing it! This went on a bit too long because some nerd of and American kept asking irrelevant questions, for example "in the fermentation process, do you use natural yeast from the vine or do you produce your own". Me, Andrew and the 3 Brits kept pissing ourselves laughing while the Germans just didn't get it (they never do really).
On we went to the next winery where we tried 3 different sweet wines, all of which were amazing. This is where one of the Germans had too much, she had to sit the rest of the vineyards out because she was too drunk.... You have to pay for the tasting or the tour of the vineyard or both. The cheapest one was 20 pesos and the most expensive was 40 pesos. Also bring a packed lunch, we made the mistake of not doing this. 5 vineyards later and it was time to pick our final one wisely. We picked one called Mevi which was amazing. The malbec was sooooo good and they gave us grapes from the vineyard to have your wine with... Delicious!! At this stage we were all very drunk and high on life watching the sunset over the Vineyards. Jesus how many times have i said vineyards in this post?! The cycle back to Hugo's with the bikes was eventful with one of the English guys falling off his bike and another two having to be escorted back in a police car because the brakes on their bikes stopped working. We all made it back to the hostel in one piece and had our first meal of the day at about 10pm and then passed out on the beds, "Ughhhhh my head is spinning Andrew", that's the last thing I remember saying.
Our English and german friends left early the next morning so we had to welcome new recruits into our dorm. I always hate this part because you get used to the people who were there first very quickly. These ones were less friendly, 3 rude and obnoxious Israeli girls. I'm also yet to meet some friendly Israelis. I swear I'm not prejudice, this was just our experience! Let me know of you meet any though.
So with nothing to do in Mendoza city itself, we took a hour bus trip outside the city to the hot springs! Buses are cheap but entrance into the springs was over priced at 50 pesos each considering only half of the place was opened. It was exactly what we needed though to nurse our fragile bodies and heads. Back to the hostel at about 7pm and cooked up another storm in the kitchen, made really good steak sandwiches! I actually enjoy the cooking part once I don't have to clean up after.
Have you ever sat through a conversation that you just can't get out off even though you really want to? Well me and Andrew had one of these painful moments this night after the hot springs. We had just finished dinner and decided it was time to be sociable so sat down beside a South African woman and a Canadian guy. Now when I tell you the conversation was one of the most boring conversations ever, I'm not exaggerating. They spent 2 hours talking about the advancement of chemical engineering in South Africa! Oh dear god help me now!!! Andrew had a lucky escape with a smoking excuse. I had nothing! In that moment I wished more than ever I smoked, I needed an excuse. I eventually escaped and went straight to bed after nearly being put to sleep. We were just about to doze off when 'the earthquake' went off... We had another serial snorer on our hands here but this was was like nothing I have ever heard in my life. This noise was coming from one of the Israeli girls. Girls just shouldn't be capable of these noises. It sounded like someone was choking her or an animal was attacking her. It was horrific. She actually kept waking herself up from her own snoring and then half choking before going back to sleep again. Oh it was horrible, I wanted to cry. There was no way we were getting any sleep that night. I listened to Declan O'Rourke, Damien Rice and David Gray (the 3 D's) on full blast twice over but nothing could mask this noise. I eventually gave up even trying and went into the TV room and watched 4 full episodes of Law and Order. Thank god for cable TV. Andrew soon emerged from the dorm room, looking very pissed off and tired. It wasn't until later in the day that we were able to laugh at earthquake Israel (natural disasters and never funny but this one was).
Next stop - Cordoba, no doubt we slept the whole way on the bus. The sound of the moving bus, TV and 20 passengers was soothing in comparison to what we had just been subjected to.
I'll keep you posted!!