Sitting inside would turn out to be, by far, the least of my problems that night

Rafael and Gustavo had extended the invitation to join them at the dinner party they were hosting that night. Look at me with multiple plans! Unfortunately, I had to decline because I had confirmed with Marisa that I would join her for a wine dinner at the Park Hyatt Mendoza. You may recall that Marisa had very kindly offered to host me in her apartment in Mendoza, after we had randomly met in a tasting room earlier that week.

Rafael and I stopped at a roadside market and a supermarket so he could pick up some last-minute items for their dinner party that evening.

Since it was my last night with Marisa, I wanted to give her a hostess gift. Throughout our conversations, Marisa had shared how much she missed cooking. She couldn’t bear to use the pots and pans in her rental because they were so crappy. At the supermarket, Rafael and I picked out a nice pan. We headed back to the house to pick up Gustavo so they could both drop me off at the Park Hyatt where Marisa and I had made plans to meet.

Reflecting on the ride back into the city, I decided that I absolutely loved being outside of Mendoza. The countryside is dotted with vineyards which is what I had originally imagined Mendoza to be. Mendoza proper is actually a city and the wineries are a good drive outside of the city limits.

Rafael, Gustavo and I said goodbye outside of the Park Hyatt promising to stay in touch (spoiler alert: we have). I crossed the busy street and headed up the elegant staircase into the hotel. As the doormen welcomed me into the grand lobby, I realized I was under dressed and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I was wearing a long skirt, a cotton tank top and flip-flops. I hadn’t had a chance to put a brush through my hair since the morning. Not only did my attire help me stand out but the daypack and plastic supermarket bag with a gift wrapped cooking pot was far from discreet.

Finding a table on the outdoor patio was my first mission. This way, I could hide my bags and footwear under the table. Problem was, all of the outdoor tables were high tops.

Sitting inside would turn out to be, by far, the least of my problems that night.


Visiting the World’s Oldest (Former) Winery

Another stop…Antigua Bodega Giol. It had once been one of the largest wineries in the world. Now, it was more a tourist attraction with a pretty informative tour and big barrels with a chance to explore from above (the barrels) and inside (the barrels).

My new friend Rafael said it was a must see on our vineyard tour. It was the most unusual winery I had seen, and you can’t argue that the barrels are among the biggest on a public tour.

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Check out the size of these barrels. Note the “bridge” connecting the two lanes in the picture on the left below? Well, there was a ladder to go up on top of the barrels. See the “bridge” behind me in the picture on the right below? Challenge accepted!

This was a pretty rare opportunity to really take in (from above) how much wine this winery produced in its heyday.

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Want to squeeze inside the “doorway” in the metal barrels and explore inside? I am not afraid of heights but I was concerned about getting stuck in the “doorway.” It was a little higher off the ground and much narrower than it looks. I did stick my head inside for a quick peek. This is Rafael looking out from inside the barrel.

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And what winery tour leaves you hanging? Not this one.

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Upon leaving, you won’t miss the bull. Legend has it that by rubbing the bull’s balls, you’ll find good luck.

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Trivento…means three winds

Our wine tasting around Maipú continues!

Next stop! Trivento.

Trivento translated means three winds. Three winds make their way through the vines to create the perfect wine. The tasting room was simple, airy and beautiful and, not surprisingly, every one of the wines we tasted were delicious.

[Update: I’ve continued to buy Trivento wine in the States, and it is still delicious! Sometimes wine happens to taste better on the vineyard during a tasting, but the wine from this vineyard is equally as good thousands of miles away!]

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After Rafael and I finished our wine tasting at Trivento, it was just about time for lunch! Lunch was yummy, and the company was divine but one of the memorable elements at lunch was this table.

Look very closely under the glass tabletop. What do you see under the glass?

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If you think it’s pasta sitting in each of those rows, you are right. All of the tables were identical to this one.

Loved it! No need for a centerpiece when your tables do it for you!


My tour of Maipu

Rafael and Gustavo, who I had met in the Cordoba airport after our plane had to turn back after flying halfway to Mendoza, had offered to take me wine tasting in their neighborhood – and spectacular Argentine wine region, Maipú.

We had planned to meet up while I was in Mendoza and this was the day! Unfortunately, Gustavo wound up having to work so it was Rafael and I for the day. Rafael and I had planned for him to pick me up in the main square where my taxi driver had originally dropped me off upon my arrival to town.

Rafael had a big day planned for us. We kicked it off with a vineyard tour. Upon arriving at the vineyard, we agreed to take a tour. There was a small group already forming – 6 or so – and we joined.

I was the only native English speaker on the tour. Our guide kindly offered to to do the tour in both English and Spanish but I encouraged him to do it only in Spanish but asked if he would speak a little slower. I actually picked up quite a bit – even with vocabulary I might not have known prior.

To my delight, our guide kept the question and answer sessions in Spanish.

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The vineyard’s property extends to the farthest row of trees in the distance. Not to mention the property that I am standing in front of.

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Rafael and I.

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Standard vineyard shots. Don’t the color of those grapes look incredible?

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There’s something so pretty about these rows…row after row, after row after row, and not a vine out of place.

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Connecting with locals through Couchsurfing

[massive catching up to do while continuing from the January 9, 2014 post while storytelling from my time in South America]

Since I had good luck with couch surfing in Uruguay, I reached out to the Couchsurfing community and connected with a fellow couch surfer whose home was Mendoza. We met for a submarino and then, since the website is all about connecting travelers with locals, he insisted that he could show me around his hometown.

As we toured town by foot, he told stories of his hometown as we pointed out some of the beautiful architecture. Sometimes you never know where your day will take you. This day, in particular, brought me back to a square in Seville, Spain. Such similarities to the tiles and the colors…sometimes it is just a really small world, after all.

(For the record, this is still Mendoza, Argentina.)

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before the clock strikes midnight

For a variety of reasons I neglected my blog in 2014. I plan on reversing that in 2015 to get back to the writing and storytelling that I love.

If you missed my writing, I did have a bit of travel writing published this year. I plan to update the ‘articles’ section soon with those links. Check back soon.

In the meantime, here’s one of the published articles. This one was published on the Huffington Post earlier this year — Six Tips to Ace Your First Business Trip

A happy and healthy new year to you. Thanks for reading. Much appreciated.

More in 2015.


Searching for WiFi and a Pleasant Surprise

The next day I didn’t have a plan (shocking, right?). I left with Marissa when she left for work. I planned to find WiFi and possibly find a wine tour, which all left super early. My search for a café with WiFi took longer than expected so I didn’t order anything until I could confirm a WiFi connection. I felt that the lack of WiFi was synonymous to my current situation and compounded the loneliness I was starting to feel.

When I finally found a successful WiFi connection, I ordered another submarino. If you have the opportunity to try one of these most delicious hot chocolate-like drinks, I highly recommend tasting one.

Finding out all the tours to the wineries had left for the day I was convinced that I was SOL for the day. I sent a note to local Couchsurfing hosts in Mendoza to see if anyone was around because I was up for anything.


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