Never known a non-public bus to stop sooooooo many times
A bus journey of near on 24 hours finally pulls into the deserted town of Mendoza which, due to the elections, has a ban on the sale of all alcohol until nine that evening. What’d’ya mean no wine?
The unusually wide leafy streets, pedestrian boulevards and large parks of Mendoza are the result of an earthquake which hit in 1861. From here the city planning was revised, resulting in the version you see today.
Hostel Punto Urbano is the crash pad for Mendoza and after a cock up with Booking.com we end up with a private four bed dorm to ourselves for the next couple of nights. Not a bad call actually, especially once we get down to drinking business. Firing up the commercial style kitchen for another sumptuous steak, we wash it down with the draw card of the hostel, free wine between 8-9pm, happy days! Glad we’d chosen this hostel, its empty (low season) rear garden is laced with hammocks slung from towering trees, and we quickly make friends with Colombian David, enjoying the remaining of the evening in the garden.
The following morning it’s down to the nitty gritty of it all, the winery tours that draw most people to the city of Mendoza. With Sarah not well, it’s down to David to become Matt’s running partner for the day. The best and cheapest way is to rent a bike from Maipu, a 30 minute bus ride from downtown. After lining the stomach with a tasty buffet breakfast at the hostel, it’s onto the 162 bus headed for Maipu.
Meeting two other Aussies and their Portuguese mate on the bus we strike up a conversation, deciding to tour the region together. Disembarking we’re approached by several other companies on bikes giving the hard sell. Our newly acquainted Portuguese friend has his head down on the march to Mr. Hugos (nice guy by the way), dismissing all who approach. With better bikes, road side assistance and coupons offering discounts, all five of us are kitted out thus commencing the ride on a one way road to inebriation. A wrong turn by the last in the pelaton delays the group until he’s eventually found down a side street. Returning to the pack one guy already has a flat tire, though as with most of the operators, a mobile service which drops off a fresh bike soon has us pedaling again.
First stop is Mevi Winery for discounted bottles of wine. Nestling into the couches on the rear patio, overlooking the vines leading up to the snow-capped mountains beyond, we sample a bottle of the Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon. The food here is of vineyard quality and variable cost. Arriving early afternoon we are limited in time though meet a group of American girls who gee us up for the next stop, Familia Di Tomasso.
A family run venture since 1869, the cellars have retained the old brick vats which are now used to bottle age the vintages. Built by engineer López Frugoni with materials shipped from England, Germany, France and Italy, the old world feel oozes authenticity.
Our sommelier, young David, is knowledgeably enthusiastic about the ground, grape, history and the important part, sampling. Touring into the cellar you gain an appreciation for the laborious endeavors of the old world manual ways of producing a fine plonk.
The day’s waning so with a portable boom box hanging off a backpack, we play follow the leader down a wrong turn or two until some locals direct us to the proxima venue. Feeling a little adulterous towards our lover of the day, wine, we hit the organic/self sufficient brewery of Patio Cervecero Pirca. Parking up bicycles adjacent to a soccer match on the grassy pitch out front, the beer garden is surprisingly full of others munching pizzas whilst swilling beers.
With the Red Ale out due to popular demand, it’s a couple of rounds of dark beer over a conversation of nipples that needs not repeating here. Finishing up the pizzas, popcorn and brews we’re far from the finish line with twilight taking hold. Back a Hugo’s bike rental we replenish on a cordial and are directed to our next discounted tasting up the road at Vinoteca de Botella. The sun’s faded and we enter swearing that there’s been a glitch in the matrix as David, our friend from Familia Di Tommasso, is behind the counter (we actually got one of the group to believe it’s his twin). Another round of five tastings (see the photo for descriptions) interspersed with a couple of craft beers and we’re well and truly sloshed enough to take the half hour bus back to town.
Why do we think that ‘one more’ is always a wise decision?
Dragging the boys around to find a craft beer place that Matt obviously is far too pissed to find with Maps.me, we make the ‘wise’ choice to find the next bar with outdoor seating. Don’t ask where it was or what was eaten as Matt has absolutely no clue. He’s just happy to be able to recollect the majority of the day for this blog.
If you want to see more pics of Mendoza and Argentina check out our Flickr page. Peace!
TIPS FOR MENDOZA
- If you’ve missed a place to shop for comforts your used to, ie. clothes, shoes etc. Mendoza will provide more than enough opportunity at decent prices.
- Bus 162 gets you to Maipu. The bus stops just after Mr Hugos so you can’t miss it on the left.
- Although Mr. Hugo is renown as the go-to man for bike rental, there are other places that may suit your budget. With the purchasing power of five of us we managed to reduce the price from 90 ARG pesos down to 70. So shop around.
- The rental companies will give you coupons for several places though there are others in the area. Remember you can’t see them all unless you spit your wine out! Best to concentrate on a few.