Upon arrival in Mendoza we hopped in a taxi to a hostel and tried to find our bearing a bit. Since we had already missed the boat in terms of organised activities for the day we just decided to go on a wander about town. After a quick breakfast in the sunshine near the main square we decided to head to the huge park at one end of town. The park had a lot of stuff to explore and we decided to try and find the stadium and then the zoo. After struggling through undergrowth and a few wrong turns here and there we found the football stadium, which had been built for a World Cup in the seventies. We then carried on walking, having already walked two hours, to find the local zoo, but we never did. Well we found the spot where it was supposed to be on the map, but not the actual zoo itself unfortunately. At that point we decided to cut our losses and head back in to town for some lunch. We had a very long lunch with two bottles of wine as fair reward for all the walking we had been doing. Then we headed back to the hostel for a little bit for a bit of a chill out. For dinner Richard and I went for the full parilla, which is essentially an enormous amount of different cuts of meat. We went for ice cream after that and then it was an early night in preparation for the bikes and wine tour the following day.
Bikes and wine is certainly a concept which treads the line between genius and insanity. Essentially they give you a bike and a map and you go try wines at 11 local vineyards and then bring the bike back at the end of the day. So we set out at 1030 on our trusty steeds towards our first vineyard, or as they call it bodega, The first bodega also contained a wine museum, which in truth was pretty terrible as it was just a large amount of stuff which is/used to be used in wine making with absolutely no explanation whatsoever. The first wine tasting certainly wasn't terrible, however, as the museum gave us each a glass of delicious Malbec, the local speciality and a grape dismissed by the French as second rate, which it most certainly isn't! We also met a couple of Aussies called Nick and Rees with whom we meandered down to the second bodega. At the second bodega we were greeted by the sign "Bienbebidas", for those of you not familiar with Spanish bienvenido means welcome whilst bebidas means drinks hence it was a wine based pun! At this bodega we tried an older oak aged Malbec, a younger Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which were very good although my favourite was definitely the older Malbec. We also picked up another Aussie at that stop, Laurent, which made our group 5 in total. The next bodega, in my opinion the best of the day, thankfully was just over the road and actually contained a decent explanation as to how the wine was made. We then bought a few bottles between us and sat on their sun drenched patio taking in the beautiful scenery of acres and acres of vines juxtaposed with snow capped mountains. More to come soon, I just updated two at a time so be sure to check out both!....