Tuesday, 18 March 2014

McDonalds Malbec

The Photographer on our horse trek

After leaving Iguazu our next stop was Mendoza, the main region of wine production in the country (famous for Malbec) and the perfect place to finish the Argentinian portion of our adventure. The whole area was originally a desert but due to some pretty impressive irrigation systems the whole town is leafy and green, and the surrounding area filled with vineyards. While the city and more importantly its surroundings have lots to offer (being right next to some of the bigger peaks in the Andes) the main purpose of our trip here was to sample some some of the local produce (and by that I obviously mean wine, lots of wine). Mendoza was also the perfect place to have a chilled out couple of days and we picked a great hostel (called Hostel Mora) which had an amazing breakfast including dulche de leche pancakes, a great garden area with hammocks and most importantly free wine every evening!

On our first full day we took it pretty easy and spent the day wandering around the centre of Mendoza, which is quite small but has a few pretty squares to explore. That afternoon we went on a sunset horse riding tour in some of the lower hills of The Andes, booked through our hostel. Like many of these sort of trips it was pretty tame, just walking the ponies through the beautiful scenery, you definitely don't have to know how to ride as the horses know where they are going. Still this was probably a good thing as it was The Photographers first time on a horse (and he made it in one piece)!! The views and the atmosphere of the trip were pretty great, the mountains were stunning and the light at sunset was spectacular. After the riding the whole group was treated to an asado in the wilderness which was brilliant (even with my new found boredom with grilled meats), accompanied with lots of very tasty budget red wine. Our tour guide for the trip was very enthusiastic and really got the party atmosphere going so the whole group ended up purchasing some more red wine with a few of us ending up at one of the hostels and keeping the party going to the early hours (when I unfortunately I had to make a swift exit and get to bed).

Vineyards with The Andes in the background from our bike ride
The kitchen at the small bodega, lots of chemistry going on!!

An amusing sign at the medium sized Bodega
SO MUCH WINE in the Cellar of the huge Norton Bodega 

The next day (feeling a little worse for wear) we headed out to sample some wine on a ´bike and wine tour´. While you can just hire a bike and head out on your own (we heard great things about a hire company called Mr Hugos) we decided as we were feeling lazy and only had one day to spare we would head out on a nice organised excursion. We were lucky enough to have the same guide as the day before and we headed out with a great bunch of people to taste some wine. We visited 3 bodegas in total, a big, a medium and a small one, with a great bike ride beside the vineyards which were overlooked by some towering mountains of The Andes. All of the bodega tours were interesting with some great characters who were very passionate about their wine. We got more than enough samples (most interestingly samples of unfinished wine which were disgusting) and quite a few glasses with lunch (along with a bit of bubbly). My favourite stop was definitely the smallest vineyard  which was very cute and made a really nice wine for church services which tasted just like port. The only downside of the tour was probably that I wouldn't have minded doing a bit more cycling (crazy I know - what has happened to me) as it was a beautiful day! That evening we went out  for dinner so that The Photographer could get his last Argentinian steak, we went to a place called Parrilla Downtown which was not a bad last steak!

Our bike tour group
Some bubbly overlooking the vineyard at Norton.

The next day we had another overnight bus to look forward to (can you see a theme occurring?), so we just chilled out around the town and sampled some of the fast food options.... On our first day in Mendoza I had spotted a sign advertising a local special at McDonalds including a burger with egg and onions (a classic South American combo), accompanied by a salad and most importantly a small bottle of local Malbec... How could I resist giving it a try (all in the name of science of course). I can report back that the burger was pretty tasty, the wine on the other hand was horrible, but maybe we have been spoiled since we have been in South America. Just to make sure our last meal in Argentina wasn't McDonalds we sampled another fast food speciality before boarding our bus, a pancho (basically a hot dog with some extra toppings) which was a tasty way to end our time in Argentina!!

Coming up soon, we head back to Chile and try to make our way to Bolivia.. Watch this space!!! 

Lunch on our Bike tour - Proof I didn't just eat fast food!!!

McDonalds with wine ... How could I say no!!!

Location: Mendoza, wine country!!!

Highlights: The wine tour and the horse trek asado.

Lowlights: McDonalds wine.. I probably should have expected that!

Minutes spent lost: 0, the benefit of having a guide!

Profile pictures: 0, red wine is not the most attractive of drinks!

Epiphany´s: 0

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