Wine Country or Extreme Sports Park?
Mendoza Travel Blog› entry 7 of 17 › view all entries
Last weekend I boarded a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. I went with two friends- Mary Beth and Vickie for a few days of relaxation and fun. We left around 8 PM, took a taxi to the bus station (termino de autobus) and rode this huge caterpillar-like double-decker 14 hours to the wine country. When we arrived at 10 AM, we took a taxi to the hostel that Vickie had booked online. It (Larages) was semi-modern, close to the bus station, and the staff was really friendly. Vickie, Mary Beth and I were ready to get out and see the town so when we found a board with 9 flyers advertising fun extreme sports we jumped at the opportunity. To our surprise and luck we were able to take a tour of two wine factories and an olive oil plant. The olive oil factory was specifically virgin olive oil with a tasting of different olives, oils, and even some dried fruits at the end. I was sold. Then we went to Lopez winery; it was a large company that produced over a million bottles of wine annually. I absolutely hated it. The staff was snotty, no one spoke English- or was even trying to help me understand what was happening, the tasting was impersonal, and the wine itself was bitter and discolored. The last winery was small and personal. The tour guide was informative and funny, the winery was clean and it had a lot of personality, even more the tasting was fantastic. Our guide taught us how to hold the wine, smell it, what colors to look for, and what flavors are popular. The wine itself was exceptional and I think I ended up buying half of the showroom.
After the tours we met a Dutch gentleman at the hostel and shared a few bottles of our favorite brand of wine, and waited for Phil, Winn, and Martinez to fly in. We all went out to dinner that night and experienced the youthful alcohol drenched nightlife that Mendoza has to offer.
An all too early morning greeted Vickie, Winn, and I with a trip to the Andes and a canopy tour. It was a really great way to see the base mountains and view the spectacular scenery. We had a quaint lunch at the base camp and then followed with a horseback ride around a small mountain town and into the Andes for sunset. It was a little chilly but our guide- Diego- made the trip really fun by letting us canter and have freedom with our “steeds.” I met up with Gigi and Bryce for my first expensive meal in Argentina. We went to an AMAZING restaurant on the strip and went over board with lavish selections.
The next morning I decided to work that off with an intense mountain trek in the deep Andes. I was a little worried because no one wanted to go with me, but I love to back pack so I couldn’t imagine being in the Andes and not hiking. On the bus to the trailhead I met the other packer- Tresse. She was a Swedish girl who had come to Argentina to train horses and ended up leaving the ranch and traveling around. Ironically, the program she was studying was the same one my mother teaches back home in Texas- so we were incessantly chatting… up the mountain and back down. I definitely got my butt kicked on the trail but it was worth it. We went up 4,000 feet in 4 hours! At the top of the Mountain, our guide- Ricardo- made us both Vegetarian sandwiches with bread his mother made that morning. From the top I could see Mendoza and all the way into Chile. It was the hightlight of my trip. That night the entire group went out for an amazing steak dinner. Even I had to give in and I had a three inch thick steak that was devilishly marbeled.
The bus came early for Gigi, Bryce, Eric, and I but we were ready. We all had signed up for Paragliding off a small mountain north of the city. It was kind of sketchy as we had to ride in the back of an old jeep to the top. On the top pf the mountain I was assigned a guide, and Bryce and I were told we were jumping first. My guide didn’t speak English- which didn’t settle the butterflies in my stomach- but he did speak the universal sign language of “help, I have no clue what I am doing.” He made the signals of a man running, hook me up to the ‘shoot and said, “no stop running” and then pointed to the cliff. My body was definitely in disagreement but I ran anyway. It was amazing too! The best 20 minutes of my day by far! I loved feeling like I was a bird soaring in the mountains… like the condors I had seen on the Mountain the day before. After that experience we all went to a vegetarian restaurant and then the bus station for a long 17 hours trip back to the city.