This post was written by Marc
Argentina – Mendoza, our first stop in Argentina
So far Mendoza has been one of the prettier cities in Latin America we have seen thus far.
Most of the streets are lined with big trees, there are dustbins everywhere, there seem to be slightly less dogs on the streets and the Mendoza region is where roughly 75% of all Argentinian wine is produced.
When we arrived at the bus terminal late on Thursday night we walked the 2km or so to our hostel. It was stated when we made the booking that it is a safe 20min walk from the bus terminal. There was also no possibility of a taxi as we had exactly no money with us, neither Chilean nor Argentinian.
After we checked in at the hostel we were very hungry and we decided to go for the famous Argentinian steak. (After finding an ATM.) Wine was not on the agenda as we were still suffering from the wrath of the Chilean terremotos.
Stepping out of the hostel at about 10pm we looked left and right, almost empty restaurants both sides of us, but across the road there was a full restaurant with people sitting inside and outside on the large patio area and on the first floor.
We decided to try get a table at this place which is obviously a hit amongst the locals, there was 1 or 2 open tables on the first floor. We ordered our food and drinks in our broken Spanish. The only English words the waiter used during the whole night was “medium rare?”, which he said is Punto in Spanish.
We read that supper normally starts at about 9pm at night in Argentina, we thought this might be a rumor but when most people were only getting their food at about 11pm we saw this was no rumor. Some people, old and young, only arrived after 11pm as well.
Our drinks came and so did our food, jam ordered a veggy stuffed steak covered in gravy with potato balls and I ordered a creamy pepper sauce steak with potato bake. The steak was perfectly medium rare, and it was amazing. Jam’s food was also good.
Jam saw a picture on the wall of a person who looked like Jannie du Plessis. While we were leaving we had a closer look just to confirm that it was in fact a picture of him taken at that restaurant, as well as another picture with the The Beast taken at the same place.
Day 2 in Mendoza Ian, Holly, Jam and I met up and decided to enquire about the must do wine tours in Mendoza. We opted to find an agency we can do the bicycle tour with.
Jam and I saw that our hostel offered the tour, which included a visit to a wine museum, 3 wineries, a beer garden, chocolate factory and olive product factory. We decided not to commit to this because it seemed rather expensive.
We had in the interim found a place that offered the bike tour at half the price of the hostel and they informed us that it is not recommended to try do the bike tour unguided.
While we were roaming the streets for more turistico shops we came across some lady on a 3 wheeled Segway knockoff with “Turistico Informacion” on her vehicle and shirt. We stopped her and asked her opinion on the best route for the bike wine tour.
She whipped out her bag full of maps, pointed out clearly which buses to take, where to buy the electronic bus cards, where to hire bikes once there and what’s worth seeing.
We had a “band” meeting at a bar over some beer and decided there and then to do the tour ourselves that afternoon. (Ian and Holly are also big Flight of the Conchords fans like Jam and I, hence the term “band meeting.”)
We got to the bike hire shop by bus about 15km out from the centre of town, got some bikes and maps from them, they highlighted the hot spots and off we went. We visited 1 winery for tasting, after 1 you’re not tasting any more, we went to an olive and chocolate factory and we had beer and pizza at a beer garden.
We had loads of fun, it was at our own pace, we saw everything we wanted to and it cost a fraction of the price. We celebrated our feat with a steak for supper and one of the premium bottles of wine Ian and Holly bought at the winery.