Mendoza: Wine Not Pictured

Travel is a roller-coaster.  If you’re doing it right, you spend more time at the top than at the bottom, but every ride has its share of ups and downs.  Back home, we talk about what a great time we had: “this restaurant was delicious,”  “that hostel was great,” “the experience was not to be missed.”

We share pictures. We edit out the bad weather, reticent locals, food that made us sick or was just too disappointing to acknowledge.  Whatever we don’t leave out by choice, memory begins to edit for us.   We remember how gracious and helpful we found the locals to be, and what a great time we had.  Feeling awkward, or sticky, or stupid—those feelings dissolve.

Today, just for you, I’m going to share a day of outtakes from Mendoza.

raise glass 2 (1 of 1)

Pictured: The beautiful Residencia Antiqua, our alojamiento in Maipú. We had this entire building to ourselves for about $50.00 USD.

Not pictured: We spent all morning in the city of Mendoza going from ATM to ATM, trying to find one to give me at least as much money as it was charging me to use the ATM in the first place.  After that, we were REALLY ready to start drinking wine.  We rode the city bus to Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental.  Mr. Hugo recommended we stay at Residencia Antigua, where we were given a tour of the property and our personal adobe wine vat to sleep in (!!!).

Once we agreed that we’d like to stay, the owner, Laura, asked for a passport to check us in.  The blood ran out of my face. Face palm. I left BOTH of our passports safe and sound in the bedside table drawer of the hostel we had stayed at the night before.  Laura passed us each a glass of wine—on the house.

court dirt road (1 of 1)Pictured: Wandering through the vines of Trapiche Winery, tasting grapes.

Not pictured: By the time we had gotten in touch with someone at the hostel in Mendoza, it was late afternoon. Most of the wineries closed at 5:00pm, some at 6:00pm.  Laura, obviously not her first rodeo, called Mr. Hugo and asked him to apply our bike rental to the following day instead of the current one.  He agreed.

I was mad at myself for being so careless. After pounding my head into a pillow a few times, the Llama convinced me that there was nothing else to do except take a walk and explore. Trapiche Winery had finished tours for the afternoon, but we wandered into the biodynamic property on our own.

court caught eating grapes (1 of 1)

Pictured: Lavender and olive trees

Not Pictured: Surrounded by grape vines, olive trees, and lavender—I can’t think of another environment that sets my heart right faster. But in addition to those elements, we were wandering down back roads lined by chain link fences, shipping containers, and industrial trucks that looked ready to tip over on top of us. There was a virile population of unrestrained dogs who were not happy that we were poking around on their territory. Also, that olive I had just put in my mouth in this picture was quite under-ripe and not at all delicious.

pizza and beer in argentina

Pictured: Beer and Pizza

Not Pictured: Hungry from our wanderings and knowing that tourist businesses were shutting down for the evening, the Llama and I found ourselves in a colorful microbrew and pizza shack that might have been located back in Ashland, Oregon. Yes, in Argentinian wine country, we were drinking beer and eating pizza. And it was tasty! We had a nice time meeting two young Brits who shared their travel tales. When we got back to the Residencia, we met a sweet couple from Amsterdam—a young doctor and lawyer who had just gotten engaged.  The four of us drank Argentinian wine and we got to see photos from their five day hike in Torres del Paine.  Laura came over with a menu, and the couple ordered dinner from the on-site restaurant.  We weren’t hungry and stuck to our wine.

As food arrived, I started to regret the pizza.  Gorgeous bruschetta of three different types, rustic oven-fresh Italian bread, steak entreés piled high with arugula, pasta perfectly proportioned. I didn’t drool, but I could have. Laura’s husband was the chef and obviously knows what he’s doing. *Sigh* Sometimes it’s hard to know when a splurge is going to be well worth it and when you’re paying too much for something mediocre.  This was a perfect example of the former.  But now you all now know for your next trip to Mendoza!

In Summary: We didn’t get to go wine tasting that day, but we did sleep in a wine vat.

Sometimes our adventures take the tone of a comedy of errors. We’re always trying to keep the balance tipped towards happy despite the obstacles.  It certainly is more fun to share that way. Thanks for following along.

GLOSSARY:

Residencia Antiqua: Laura, along with her husband and sister, run a great operation in Maipú.  I found the prices reasonable considering the overall feeling of the experience and the personal attention provided, not to mention location.  Wine country (anywhere) can be a challenge if you aren’t planning to spend a lot on luxury accommodations, hiring a personal driver, or joining a guided tour.  The Residencia Antiqua was beautiful and comfortable, allowed us our independence and situated us perfectly to take advantage of the Maipú bodegas.  I would absolutely go back and take advantage of biking to other wineries in the area that we missed this time around. We’ll be back, and we definitely plan to eat at the restaurant when we do!

Alojamiento: referring to overnight accommodations.

Maipú: The city of Mendoza is surrounded by smaller, rural wine-growing towns in the province of Mendoza, and Maipú is one of them. It was great for biking around and visiting the local bodegas. It is not known for having the most spectacular scenery or wines in the province of Mendoza, but it is the closest and easily accessed by public transit from the city.  The Llama and I enjoyed our time there and would recommend it in a heartbeat.

Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental: I had seen Mr. Hugo’s Bike Rental recommended in many of the blogs and articles I had read prior to visiting Mendoza. I can see why! I had no expectation of meeting the actual Mr. Hugo, but we were greeted and attended to by him and his wife. They gave us an excellent orientation when we showed up with no idea what to do.  They recommended the Residencia Antigua and called Laura to let her know we were coming. Mr. Hugo brought us, our packs, and our bikes to the Residencia in his truck.  He was also flexible enough to credit our rental to the day after our arrival, so that we would be able to enjoy a full day of using the bikes.  The price tag? $6.50 USD each.  We didn’t even have to return them to the shop.  He picked them up after we left.

Trapiche: One of the oldest and largest wineries in Mendoza, perhaps in Argentina.  It was just across the way from where we stayed at the Residencia.  Unfortunately, all I got to do was walk through the vines while we were there, as tours are scheduled and reserved in advance.  Next time we’ll plan ahead. We hear it is spectacular to see.

Torres del Paine: Friends, some day you will see photos on this blog of the Lady and the Llama at Torres del Paine National Park in the Patagonia region in the far south of Chile. You heard it here first!

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