June 29th - Last night Neil had the remaining 6 beers and liked them all. Emma felt a bit left out so she ordered a bellini (not really a travellers drink!!). Today we just walked around the town and chilled out, and went to the supermarket to stock up for our bus journey tomorrow as there was no food provided for 20 hrs.
June 30th/July 1st - We got our bus at 1pm. It wasn't as comfortable as before as the seats did not go all the way back but it was still fine. We were surprised to be given a snack straight away of a ham and cheese sandwich (what a surprise!) as we had brought our own pack lunch. There was a film on when we got on the bus (in Spanish!) and it was Pirates of the Carribean, about the 5th time we´d seen it on the trip so far.
First part of the hourney went quick and we dropped a lot of people off about 8pm, from here we had the whole of the bottom section of the bus to ourselves which was good and we both got quite a bit of sleep. We got to Mendoza
about 8.30am and were checked in to our room and in bed by about 9am! We slept til about 2pm and got up and had a shower and went out to have a look around. This hostel seemed really nice and they organised a lot of trips and excursions. As Mendoza is famous for wine making we had already decided to go on our tour so booked and all day tour for the next day which cost just over 20 pounds each. We walked around the town which was really nice, and went to a supermarket for a ´big shop´ to save ourselves a bit of money we decided to cook for the next couple of nights.
Think we got two nights dinners, beer, wine, shower gel etc for about 10 pounds, love this country! We went back to the hostel and chilled out in front of the TV, good people at this hostel, a couple of English girls and an english bloke and American bloke travelling together. Emma cooked the dinner, with her Sous chef Neil, and we had beef in spicy tomato sauce with rice, very good, probably the best yet!
July 2nd - We were picked up at 9.15am for our wine tasting tour. The group was probably about half spanish speaking and half English speaking which was good as meant everything was explained in both languages. We drove out of the town for about 40 mins to Maipu which is the main wine making area and visisted the first winery.
We had a tour around the winery for about 20 minutes with the whole process of wine making explained before the tasting session, we tasted 2 reds, a white and a dessert wine, all this before 10.45am, a great start to the day! Next stop on the tour was an Olive Oil factory where again we were given a short tour about the production process before we had a tasting session. Here we tasted two different types of olive oil on bread with sundried tomatoes which Emma thinks is the best she has ever tried, so she decided to buy a small bottle. From here we went to another winery which ws more of a family run business. We were given a really good tour here followed by another tasting session! This time we tried three reds and a dessert wine and by this stage we were becoming experts, so decided to buy a bottle of our favourite, Syrah, for 20 pesos which is just over 3 pounds.
This winery exported most of its wines to the USA and the one e bought costs $60 there, and they also produced a special wine for the owners daughters wedding last year which you could only buy there for 90 pesos a bottle (about 15 pounds). Wine experts had valued this on the European market at about 175 pounds a bottle. Next stop on the tour was lunch, which was included in the price and was absolutely amazing. As we walked in to the restaurant there were two long tables full of Cheese, meats, olives, pickles, sauces, bread, eggs, vegetables, tapenades ........ it was like a kings feast! We were poured large glasses of wine which kept coming for the next 2 hours. After a bit our guide said don´t overdo it as there was more to go and we weren´t too sure whether to believe him, but then came meat empanadas, hot cheese pastries and spicy sausage in local red wine.
As we were finishing this the waiter asked who would like pasta and next we were brought a bowl of spaghetti bolognese each, it was all finished off with a big bowl of ice cream with Dulche De Leche sauce. We loved it! We were taken back to Mendoza after lunch and slept on the bus back, we decided to get dropped off at the min bus terminal so we could book our next bus to Cordoba. We then walked the 45 minutes back to our hostel to burn off the feast. We just chilled out in the hostel that night and got talking to an English guy and girl travelling together and another English bloke who had arrived that day. We had already decided to rent bikes and cycle round the vineyards the next day so invited them all with us. At about 11.30pm some of the blokes in the hostel came back to wtch the football (South American Champions League Final) but people were watching a film so Neil went out with them to watch it at another hostel, was a good game.
Emma stayed in to watch chick flick with the girls.
July 3rd - We all left the hostel at 11am to catch a local bus to Maipu. It was a bit of a nightmare as none of us speaks any spanish really so took us a while to sort out tickets with the driver. In the end a local man got off when the bus stopped and topped up his card (like an oyster) so he could pay for us all with that and we just gave him the money. The bus took about 40 mins and the driver drooped us off outside Mr Hugo´s bike rentals. His daughter spoke to us in English and gave us a map with the route so the 6 of us (another English girl tagged along) got our bikes and set off about 12.30pm. First stop was the wine museum where we just walked around and tasted two red wines. From here we rode a couple of km to a liquor and chocolate factory.
We paid 5 pesos (80 pence) each and had a tour and then got 1 shot of liquor (Neil had Port and Emma had Dulche de Leche), white and dark chocolate and two spoonfuls of salsas (we had spicy, mild and green olive). We bought a jar all together as were having a bbq that night. From here we had a 5km ride to the next winery which was family owned. Here we tasted 4 wines (Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a dessert wine). Next we rode to an Olive Oil facory (different from yesterday) and paid 5 pesos each to taste the oil on bread, it wasn´t as good. We stopped here for a bit and had some lunch (crisps and biscuits) before going over the road to another winery. Here we had another tour (we are now experts!) before sitting out in the sun to try 4 more wines, which were not that good, but we still drank them.
One tasted like fish water! We left here and rode the 7km or 8km back to Mr Hugo´s and arrived back there about 5pm. We gave our bikes back and he invited us to sit out in the sun. He brought out 6 glasses and a litre bottle of his home made organic red wine for us to try. He poured large glasses and left us the bottle, and then brought out another, then another, then another........ and 6 or 7 bottles later we thought we had better leave to get the bus back if we could make it, it was about 7pm. All this wine was free but we left him a good tip as it only cost 4 pounds to rent a bike for the whole day!! We got the bus back to the hostel to meet everyone else as a Brazilian guy staying there said he would do a bbq that night. We went out to buy some wine and beer and salad (which Emma made), as he and his family had bought all the meat and bread.
Then we all sat on the roof terrace at the hostel (about 16 of us) and had a really good bbq until about 1am.
July 4th - We had to check out at 10am and we just sat around after having our breakfast for a couple of hours. We decided to go for a walk to the park about midday but on the way we stopped off in a sports shop and Emma snapped up a pair of fake Converse (called Finders) for less than 6 pounds, she´s glad as she´s been wearing her boots since we left London. We walked to the park which took about an hour and just walked around a bit, had an ice cream, watched some locals palying football, and watched some rowers on the lake, it was a really nice warm day. We walked back to the hostel and stopped off on the way to buy our dinner. We got back about 6pm and had our dinner and just sat around watching TV.
We got a cab to the bus terminal at about 10pm for our 10.45pm bus to Cordoba. We went semi cama this time so wasn´t as comfortable but only took 10 hours, the only thing was it was so hot that Emma was thinking about getting naked!!
July 5th - We arrived in Cordoba about 9.30am and decided to book our next bus tickets while we were at the station. We booked our tickets to Iguazu Falls for next Thursday (10th). We got a cab to our Hostel (The Locomotion Pop Hostel) and were greeted by a very scruffy man at the door. He showed us in to the filthy, smelly lounge area and told us that there had been a problem with the booking and that he didnt have the room we had booked. He did say that he had an alternative and decided to show us around the hostel, it was horrible and the room was even worse.
Lucily we had only paid a very small deposit which we will get back, and we had a leaflet for another hostel, where two guys we met in Mendoza were staying, so we got the bloke to phone them and luckily they had a room. We got another taxi to this hostel (The Palenque) and went to sleep. We had already arranged to go out with Rob and Dave who were staying there that night, so met them in the reception at about 9pm. We had a bbq at the hostel and then went out about 11pm. It is a university town so we went to the bar district which was packed and we went to about 6 bars. It was a really good night and we all thought it was about 2am but were shocked when we realised it was nearly 6am! We got a taxi home as Dave was doing a skydive at 11am that morning. He was trying to persuade us all night to go with him which drunkily we nearly agreed to.
July 6th - Emma got up first to start watching the Wimbledon Mens final. We then both just sat around all afternoon watching that around the rain breaks, and it was a really good match. That night we went out with Rob and Dave to the largest ´all you can eat´ in Argentina, the first time Emma has ever been to one. It cost 24 pesos (about 4 pounds) each and was really good. They had absolutely everything and the guy on the grill section took a liking to Emma and in very broken English was waving his knife and talking about running and lunch! After this we all went back to bed!
July 7th - We had to check out of the hostel at 10am as we had already booked in to another hostel round the corner. We checked in to the Baluch hostel and were ready to go out by 10.
45am. We were going to go to a town an hour away (like a mini Las Vegas) today but the guy on reception at the hostl said it wasn´t that good at this time of year and suggested a couple of other places. We met a girl from our hostel in Menoza at this hostel and she decided to come with us and Rob to Villa General Belgrano
(an authentic German village). We caught a local bus, about 2 hours, and got there about 2pm. We went straight to the tourist office who gave us a map, and set off on a short hike to Cerro Mirador. We got to the top of the mountain in about an hour which had good views down over the town and surrounding area. We then walked back along a river and went to a beer making factory.
We sampled 4 beers (stout, golden, red ale and bock) and Neil bought a bottle of the Stout for later that night, was only about a pound. We then looked around the town and got the bus back to Cordoba about 7pm. We just stayed in the hostel and chilled out and watched Casino Royale.
July 8th - Today we wanted to go on a trip through the hostel (horseriding, trekking, rapelling and zip wires) but it is only on a Thursday. Instead we decided to go on our favourite pastime, Wine Tasting!! We went with a couple of girls from our hostel and first visted a winery about an hour and a half away. Here we had a tour around the winery which was all in Spanish, luckily the canadian girl was able to translate! This winery ws different from all the other we had been to, as they do not age their wines in oak barrels, they use concrete containers and they are ready to drink within 6 months.
We then had a tasting session, 4 red wines, a dessert wine and a grape juice. They were all served cold and were very good. We decided to buy our favourite two which were only 6 pesos each (a pound!). From here we went off to a cheese and salami tasting session. The family had lots of farm animals and we tasted their cheese, salami and ham. From here we went for some lunch before going to a museum for the Jesuit Maria culture in Cordoba. It was quite interesting although mainly in Spanish. We then got the minibus back to the hostel (day trip cost about 10 pounds each) and are now writing this in an internet cafe.