After a lovely, relaxing and completely on time trip through the Andes, when we arrived at 5:30am as planned in Mendoza, we checked in, set our alarms for the bike tour and immediately passed the fuck out in our room. Because, since we were on time, the hostel hadn’t given up one of our reservations and we didn’t at all have to sleep all three of us in one bed.
When the alarm went off for our 9 am bike, beer and wine tour I immediately set up my wifi to check my email. And surprise! Since we had gotten to the hostel at our anticipated midnight arrival, when the tour called to confirm our pickup they told them we weren’t there.
Seriously though, I do have to give Green Toad bus a lot of credit for their diligence in customer service. They emailed me as soon as the hotel denied our existence and told us to call them to reschedule our trip for the next day, which, once we were able to get in touch with them was easily set up. And probably also better since shitty bus sleep + wine + beer + Asian driving a bicycle = not at all a recipe for disaster.
Since we were up anyway, we figured we’d take the day to check out the “Biggest Park in America” although I’m not sure if that’s North America, South America, both or just a title like “The World’s Best Coffee.” While we sat in the common room with Mark being our diligent navigator (no seriously I havne’t looked at a map since we started this trip) a few people came through wearing UMich shirts so we ended up talking to them for a bit and deciding we would all head to the park together. But first, we will eat.
While everyone else ate, I realized I had zero Argentinian pesos and am not a fan of breakfast so I took a walk through Mendoza to look for an ATM. Mom and Dad if you’re reading this and are concerned about my decision to walk around alone, don’t be. Mendoza is beautiful and the area we were in was full of gorgeous houses and apartment complexes with plant and flower filled balconies. Long story short, the area basically shit roses – but unfortunately didn’t have any ATMs so I went back empty handed.
A bit later after watching the group of 10 people split the check 10 ways on 10 different cards (I would’ve killed everyone if I was the waitress) we headed over to the park just as the humidity reached an all time high for the day, and we got to the lake where we intended to sunbathe just as it started to hail ice chunks the size of macaroons. When we asked the waitress at the cafe we were hiding if this was typical, she said that it rarely rained, but when it did it hailed. Long story short, in Mendoza when it rains it pours.
The next morning we had our bike tour scheduled which was much better considering we had gotten a solid night’s rest. Plus we would be drinking all day and then getting on the bus which meant we’d probably knock out solidly for the 10 hour bus ride. Score! Right on time Jose showed up to be our guide, chauffeur and overall awesome companion for the trip. The first stop was picking up the bicycles and helmets (Mom) and taking an 8 km ride to the furthest and oldest winery in Mendoza, Tommaso, where we got to sample a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Saugvignon and a Dessert Wine. Next up was El Cerno, which Jose described as old, family run and one of the better ones (where I got 10 mosquito bites), and then got to try Malbec Reserve and a Sparkling wine.
Our last wine stop was Mevi which was a boutique bodega and significantly more modern than the other two. It was also where we got lunch. And also where things took a turn for the drunker. Apparently, lunch came with a glass of malbec, and two additional bottles of wine for the 3 of us, because Jose was “not drinking.” The food was really good; empanadas and pizzas which were dough with cheese on the inside (think stuffed crust pizza as the whole pizza) and the sauce and olives on the outside. The wines were amazing. Torrontes (my favorite of the day) and a Malbec Rose which was really good and very different from anything else I’ve ever had. Next stop…beer!
By this point we were sort of about 8-10 glasses of wine deep (or at least I was) and I knew the beer was going to cross me from tipsy to drunk. I got a nice blonde ale and then promptly made friends with another table and spoke French. Drunk, check!
After that we returned the bikes and headed to the olive oil vineyard (or whatever you call it) which sounded innocuous enough. There we got to try a bunch of different olive oils and olive oil pastes with bread which was pretty much exactly what we needed at this point. I would tell you more about the fine cultured taste of the oils, but I was pretty much in “need something to soak up the alcohol” mode. This midset went great…until we were informed they also made their own liquors there which we could do 2 shots of. I have no idea what I did first but I know that my second shot was Absinthe. Becuase really, that’s what I really needed at that point.
Unforunately after that our bike tour ended and sadly we had to leave Jose and head to the bus stop. At this point I was thoroughly inebriated and just wanted to go on my phone upload some pictures to instagram and go to sleep. We saw that some buses had wifi so I turned to the random dude sitting next to me who looked white enough to speak English and asked if he knew if there was wifi on the bus. In response he asked us if we wanted to play rummage, which is apparently a gentlemen’s game in the UK. Too tired and drunk to respond, that was my last memory before passing out.