Hi everyone! We left Santiago and Chile and flew over the Andes, and headed right back down to the other side of the mountains in Argentina, where we headed to the city of Mendoza, a place known for it’s vast wineries.
First of all, I was personally looking forward to going to Argentina. Through football whilst growing up, I’d become interested in knowing more about the country, and I’d always heard Buenos Aires being such a cool place to go and visit. Although the previous destinations on our travels in Peru, Bolivia and Chile had been such a blast, I hadn’t had any expectations going into those places, which possibly made the experience that much better. But Argentina was probably the first place I was expecting something from. I’d heard about the football, the food, the people; it was now time to experience all of that.
Mendoza was founded in 1561 by the Spanish, and due to the system of irrigation put in place by the natives who occupied the area before them, Mendoza was an ideal place for agriculture. It was this that allowed the region to prosper into a vast wine-producing region, allowing it to be part of the nine cities of Great Capitals of Wine worldwide.
..And so what would be a trip to Mendoza be, without a trip (or two! or three?!) to a winery. And that’s exactly what we did on our first day on Mendoza.
Now, you’d think that you spend the morning doing a few activities or sightseeing, have lunch, then when you’ve settled in for the day and ready for some alcohol, you’d start your tour of the wineries ready for some amazing Malbecs. But nope! We woke up that day, headed out at 8am, and had the first glass of wine in our hands to taste at 10am!
In all seriousness though, the wine tour was great. Although it was winter and so the grapes weren’t growing, it was a great insight into wine production and wine making in general, how it’s so important to the local economy. I also finally got beyond thinking that all wines taste the same (I know, shame on me!). We visited three wineries in all, all different in their own right, and tasting plenty as we went along! It was a fun experience.
Now I’d never really understood the concept of the Spanish siesta, where a nap is taken in the middle of the day to recover (from the heat in most cases!). But on that day in Mendoza, we took full advantage of the siesta and had a well deserved, much-needed afternoon nap, not wine-induced of course..!
Our second day, we decided to experience the life of a gaucho (an Argentinian cowboy) and headed off to a local gaucho’s ranch for some horse riding. Now this gaucho, Cesar, had earned a name for himself in not just offering some great horse riding experiences across his ranch and through the vineyards, but also thereafter cooking the most amazing asado (Argentinian BBQ) lunch for the guests in his own home. With Argentina known for it’s famous steak, along with various other BBQ specialties, we were experiencing the true gaucho lifestyle.
With it being winter in Argentina, the grapes weren’t yet growing for the new season, but nonetheless the horse riding tour of the ranch and it’s surroundings was brilliant. My horse I thought was a bit lazy (I was expecting a few sprints at least!), and Karina’s was constantly trying to eat every bit of greenery it could find. The horses were’t supposed to be imitating it’s riders! We went through many vineyards and spent a few hours exploring the place. It was a very relaxing morning, and we enjoyed our time riding around. And as we’d heard, Cesar was a great cook. We had an awesome lunch in his home, and went home very happy after having a great time.
Unfortunately, it was time to move on again. Mendoza had been brilliant. Our introduction to the Malbec had us excited for the rest of the Argentinian leg, and the food so far had been immense. Next up, was the place I’d longed to visit since I was a kid: Buenos Aires.