22nd March – 26th March 2013
We arrived in Mendoza on a wonderful warm and sunny day after a eighteen hour bus ride. We made our way out to Maipu, the wine region where we would stay for the next couple of days. On the local bus out to Maipu from Mendoza we were befriend by an middle aged Argentina man who sat behind me and attempted to communicate with me in Spanish. I had a feeling he was going to pick on me as he smiled and greeted me when he sat down on the bus. After I used up the few Spanish words I knew, it was time to get Corey involved in the conversation. The man was very helpful, telling us where we had to go, asking other people on the bus for directions and filling us in on wineries we ad to visit. He even stopped the bus for us when it was our stop.
We arrived at our hostel with our much appreciated directions as it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We finally stumbled upon a cute converted family home with 3 dorm rooms. We pretty much had the dorm to ourselves and the opportunity to practise our Spanish, well Corey not so much me. After a very warm welcome from both the owners and the guests we had a nap then set off to explore Maipu. A Canadian couple and an Aussie girl told us about a party they were going to that night so we decided to join them. We made our way down the road to a olive farm where they had the tasting night. It was pretty fancy with red wine, olive oil, sundried tomato and olive tapenades tastings. We must of stuck out like sore thumbs as there was a bunch of Argentinian’s all from the same English class who had a test on Monday. So for half the evening we had people practising there English on us, they were all so friendly but it was extremely exhausting. I was so stoked when one of the girls mention she was heading home, Corey & I leaped at the chance to leave. Despite the free English lessons, we still had a wonderful night taste testing some wonderful wine and sundried tomatoes!
By the time we got our asses into gear the next day after an amazing breakfast (Corey fell in love with the smoked ham from the supermarket next door) we set off down the road to hire bikes for the day to do our wine tour. The company we decided to hire our bikes with had no working bikes but he told us several times, don’t worry, relax! It’ll be ok! Tranquilo! Tranquilo! Corey & I just stood there, not really bothered at all while he ran around stressing out, maybe we should of told him to chill out. We ended up jumping into his car and hiring working bikes from the company down the road. Then we were set for our day of wine tasting. I have a feeling the Argentinian men in Mapiu don’t see little Aussie chicas that often as I was constantly beeped at with the locals hanging out the window whistling at me despite Corey riding right beside me. It was entertaining for us nonetheless.
We started our tour we Trapiche, the fanciest Bodega. The winery was built by an Italian family over 100 years ago. The Bodega was in the process of restoring all the original factory machinery to continue producing wine. The wine itself wasn’t too bad either! We continued the wine tour in amazement at the luxurious with the original cork flooring and old school machinery. Then it was onto our next winery, Bodega Familia Zuccardi as soon as we arrived we were warned! The winery had a vibrant vibe with many people munching on lunch however their red wine was discussing! I was happy to drink the white wine at this place but nothing else, wasn’t very tasty at all. After our wine tour we decided to continue on the next winery, only to be stopped by a policeman on a motorbike. He asked Corey which winery we were off to and when we proceeded to tell him he told us it was probably closed. We decided to continue on anyway realising that most of the wineries would be shutting in the next half an hour or so. As we rode on the policeman on his motorbike rode ahead only to come back and tell us that the winery was shut. The policeman then followed us for about ten minutes, slowly on our pushbikes. We weren’t sure what was going on, whether we were in trouble and he was going to book us or what. After a while he speed off into the sunset. After riding for a few more kilometres, Corey and I realised the rest of the wineries had now closed so we stopped at the petrol station to see if we could find anywhere that still would be open. Sure enough, the police on his motorbike pulled up again and asked us where we were going! In Australia we both would have been booked for riding without a helmet, obstructing traffic and riding under the influence but not in Argentina. We had no idea what was going on. We finally arrived back into town, dropping the bikes off and enjoying a cup of tea before returning back to the hostel. When we asked the owner’s of the hostel about the stalker policeman, it turns out that towards the end of the day the policemen keep an eye on the tourists so they don’t get robbed. There has been many cases where locals pick on the drunk tourists riding their bikes home when all the wineries shut. I guess we were pretty easy targets!
We were now the only tourist staying in the hostel so we bonded with the local Argentinian family, learning about their origins and how to cook our meat Argentinian style.
The next day we decided to head back into the city of Mendoza for a change of scenery, after some more warm farewells and a bottle of red for Corey, for helping them out with some marketing for the hostel we headed back to Mendoza. The next couple of days consisted of Corey and I cruising around Mendoza, some private Spanish lesson’s from Corey and arguing with taxi drivers trying to convince them that Corey’s surfboard will fit into the cab as we had just travelled through most of Argentina with no problems!
Saying goodbye to Mendoza meant saying goodbye to Argentina for us, saying goodbye to the best steaks we have ever tasted and some of the most delicious red wine. It was time for a new country and many more adventures to be continued.