After all our fun in Cafayate, we took the bus to a city called Tucuman and stayed for one night. Since it was Sunday there wasn’t much to do as everything in the city was shut. The next day we took a hideous 13 hr night bus the city of Mendoza which is known for its wine.
When we got to the hostel the lady at reception was so nice and let us have breakfast before we checked in. It wasn’t your usual stale bread and jam affair either, no this was real breakfast! Boiled eggs, cereal, pastries and my favourite… Crepes filled with dulce de leche. Heaven!
After breakfast and a shower we headed out into the city with a lovely Scottish girl we met at breakfast. I expected Mendoza to be similar to Cafayate but just a little bigger. I was very shocked to find out that it is a decent sized city with shopping malls and the winery’s were actually a 45 minute bus ride away. This city has siesta time like every other place we’ve visited in Argentina, so everything shut down from 1pm-5pm. That night we went out and had another delicious meal. Our hostel really seemed too good to be true, Every night they give you free wine from 7pm-8pm. We sat around outside drinking free wine with our new Scottish and American friends. Once the free wine was gone we kept buying more and drank til early hours of the morning.
We all got up the next morning (sans hangover, thank goodness) and set off for some horse riding together. We drove about 45 mins out of town to a family owned ranch. When we arrived I noticed that the horses looked a little on the manky side. Their fur wasn’t nicely combed and shiny and they just looked like they needed a little extra loving, it made me feel a little guilty for signing up for the ride.
The last time Tom and I rode horses in Canada we didn’t exactly enjoy it that much so I was feeling a little nervous and crossing my fingers I got a small horse. I was last to get given a horse and thank goodness it was a little one. He was very cute and so well behaved! I didn’t have to tell him to do anything, he just followed nicely behind the horse in front and stopped whenever all the other horses stopped.
The trailed winded up and down through the foothills of the Andean mountains. It was very hot and the trail was full of rocks and was very steep at times, I felt sorry for my poor little horse. At some points we were literally on an extremely narrow, rocky trail with basically a cliff drop on the other side. Please don’t slip little horse I kept praying. It was quite scary at some points. The views were very beautiful throughout the ride and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, unlike my last horse riding experience. I barely took any photos though, ooops!
After about an hour, we stopped at a little creek to give our horses a drink and a rest. Mel’s horse (our new Scottish friend) decided it wanted to sit down while she was still on it, and the decided to roll over for a scratch on the grass, luckily Mel managed to get off in time before she got squished by The horse. It was crazy! The horse then refused to put its reigns back on and our guide had to walk next to it the whole way back while Mel rode his horse. My horse also decided to lay down on the grass, luckily I was already off it. Poor little thing, he seemed so tired!
After a good rest and lots of water, we rode another hour back to the ranch and was greeted with a massive Argentinian style BBQ. It was so delicious. We then the washed it down with two 5 litre bottles of red wine. Needless to say we all had a great time and were quite tipsy when we got back to our hostel.
Huge bottle of wine!
Once back at the hostel we made use of the free wine hour again and continued drinking on until the early hours of the morning again. There really was such a great bunch of people staying at this hostel 🙂
The next morning we got up and caught the local bus to Maipu and hired some bikes to begin our wine tour! We had formed a group of nine of us which consisted of some Aussies, Scottish, English, American and a Peruvian. We were very multicultural! We hired some bikes from a place called Mr Hugo’s. Mr Hugo was like your long lost grandad, he was the sweetest old man and greeted us excitedly with a big smile and kisses on both cheeks, he really was adorable!
Our first stop was a family run olive farm. We took a tour and did some tastings of olive oil, tapenade, jams, chocolate and finished with some liquor. It was all really tasty.
After that we decided we would go have lunch. Mr Hugo had given us a suggestion and had circled it on a map for us. We set off on our bikes. When I pictured myself doing a wine tour on a bike, I pictured pretty tree lined, quiet streets with lots of people cruising around from vine yard to vine yard. This however, was not the case at all. The map definitely wasn’t to scale and we ended up cycling for around 8km on the main road with cars and trucks flying past us while we dodged the road works. Eventually, we turned down a pretty tree lined street that I had imagined and arrived at a beautiful Winery.
The views were stunning, the company was lovely, the wines were delicious and I ate the best steak I had had in Argentina so far. It was a really nice afternoon.
When we left the winery they kindly gave us four free bottles of wine. They seem to give out wine here like its water, in fact it’s cheaper for a glass of wine than for a cup of coffee here!
We rode to find another winery but it was getting too late and they were too far so we returned our bikes to Mr Hugo who greeted up with warm smiles and a cold glass of lemonade. He gave us big hugs and kisses when we left and gave us three bottles of wine.
We returned back to the hostel with seven bottles of free wine and began our Empanada cooking class put on by the hostel, who also supplied us with another two free bottles of wine! Needless to say it was a very fun night!
I was really sad to leave this beautiful place and all our new friends. I really think that’s the worst part about travelling, leaving places you’ve fallen in love with and leaving awesome people that you’ve met.
We had to move onto our next adventure though, so we said our goodbyes and hopped onto a night bus to the city of Cordoba.