We arrived in Mendoza on a Sunday morning and found that Sundays here mean the whole town is extremely quiet. We couldn’t even find an open supermarket (despite Reuben determinedly searching for 40 minutes) and so wound up going out for dinner. The town was transformed the next morning when the sleepy, quiet streets burst into life with cars, buses and people everywhere. We took a bus out to nearby Maipu, where we hired bikes from the wonderfully named “Mr Hugo’s”. Mr Hugo himself rents out bikes for the day – they come both with a bottle of water and unlimited red wine to start and to finish. We began our bike tour with a ride to the wine museum, then went down to a place that grew olives. We took a short tour here, then sampled the oils, pastes, chocolates and liqueurs. It was here that we were introduced to absinthe – around 70% alcohol, which was enough to make me cough and splutter.
We continued our tour by cycling to Vina Maria, a lovely little family owned winery where we could wander through the vineyards as we sipped our wine. Delightful!
We then continued on to Trapiche, where we did a tour and tasting. Trapiche is one of the older wineries in Mendoza and it was really interesting to learn about the history of winemaking in the region, as well as sample some excellent wine.
After Trapiche, we cycled to di Tomasso for a late lunch. What I didn’t realise until later was that this was all uphill and into a headwind – I had just thought I was getting tired and had tasted too much wine! Lunch revived us and we headed to Vistandes winery where we did another tour and tasting.
We then popped into Tempus Alba winery before enjoying the downhill ride back to Mr Hugo’s (even over the roadworks).
On our last full day in Mendoza we walked from our hostel into town, then to the Parque General San Martin, where we continued our hike through the park and up a hill. Helpfully, the park had an information site where we were given a free map and information about the park in English. Less helpfully, the wind blew the map out of Reuben’s hands…into the water…under a bridge. So we had to be guided by instinct – and a friendly stray dog that we met who happily ran ahead of us to show us the way. We were some of the few people walking up – most people seemed to come up by bus or car. Our friend who we creatively named Wolf Dog (he was a dog…who looked like a wolf) seemed pleased to have company.
At the top were stunning views of the Andes and the city of Mendoza, as well as a statue of General San Martin, who the park is named after.
We decided to take the bus back to town, as our walk there had taken about an hour and a half, all uphill. However, we had no change, and the buses here only take coins…which are notoriously hard to come by here. We tried two different shops up the top of the hill and neither would give us coins as change, so we just got on and hoped for the best and were saved by a woman who let us use her card in exchange for our notes. So far in Argentina in lieu of change we have been offered aspirin and lollies – we accepted both. Since we had had such an active couple of days we decided it was time for a coffee date and went to Havanna, the local coffee chain. We are excited about our next destination – a bus ride over the Andes will take us to Santiago, Chile.