Two glasses of wine, a bag of Walkers crisps and a new friend, Marisa, later, I have an invitation to stay with her in her apartment for the rest of the week.
Here’s how it went down. She worked at the Vines and after work she came to enjoy a glass of wine. Realizing how odd it was for someone to be sitting next to all of their belongings (read: backpacker gear) and sipping a lovely glass of wine, she decided to start a conversation.
We clicked immediately.
She decided that I was ‘normal’ because I knew someone who knew someone who introduced us to Emily. I decided she was normal because we went through two glasses of wine together without missing a beat.
She realized my conundrum and invited me to stay in her two bedroom apartment for the rest of the week. Her reasoning – she had an extra bed and I didn’t even have one. We left the bar, went back to her apartment to drop my stuff and headed out for the night and laughed about how our friends back in the States would find this extremely unsafe and weird.
After several glasses of Argentina’s finest at the Vines, Marissa and I decided we probably needed some sustenance as we walked to her apartment.
Once the taxi dropped us off in Mendoza, I headed back to the hostel, grabbed my bags from the locker in the basement, said goodbye to the front desk and raced to the Vines.
When I arrived, with my bags in tow, Emily saw me and her jaw dropped.
‘Didn’t you get my email?’
‘No. I was out all day. Everything ok?’
‘The trip was cancelled. Investors are here and they are going tonight.’
What’s a girl (who has all of her belongings in tow) to do but drop her bags and have a glass of wine? Or two.
Was pretty and uneventful. I was a little nervous about being late because the taxi driver was more social on the ride home and was sharing stories, and pulling over for photo opps.
We all fell asleep – no surprise, after being in the warm sun and thermal pools all day.
En route to Termas Cachuetas, the surrounding area looked like we could have been driving around Arizona.
It was slightly ironic to see a water park smack in the middle of the desert. There was a fancy spa attached (probably for tourists) and the water park seemed like it was the local thing to do.
Unfortunately, my camera was locked in a locker for the day so no waterpark photos.
Just know that we had a great day.
The next morning I woke up and, since I was invited to sleep at the villas that night, I got ready to check out. I locked my bags in the lockers in the basement, had some breakfast at the hostel and headed to the park where we agreed to meet.
Arrived at our meeting place a little early so sat on a park bench waiting.
And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Realizing it had been a while, and without means to contact my travel companions for the day, I decided to leave. I only had until 6 so I would have time to get back to the hostel to collect my bags and make it to the Vines for the van’s 7p departure.
As I walked away from our meeting place, I didn’t get very far until I heard my name being called from across the park.
We hoofed it to the Mendoza bus terminal to catch a bus to the Termas Cacheutas. The three of us spent far too much time in the Mendoza bus terminal, which isn’t even that big. After visiting what seemed like every single (open) bus operator we learned that the buses to our destination only left every three hours. Oops.
Quickly we found the taxi line, and spoke with a driver who confirmed that he would take us. With the proposed pricing, it would cost us each about $25 for a roundtrip, plus a driver tip. We all agreed and got into the taxi.
If this sounds like the longest day ever, it really was. As it neared 5pm, I made my way towards The Vines and I arrived at the tasting room just shy of 5p. I met Emily, the head of marketing, and she joined me for a tasting flight. The wines were amazing.
Emily invited me to visit the Uco Valley property the following evening for an overnight stay on the finca (land belonging to the winery). I was also invited to a weekly tasting event at the Hyatt on Thursday night. I already had plans on Thursday during the day with my new airport friends, Rafael and Gustavo. Being that it was only Monday, I figured a week in one place couldn’t hurt. Especially when that place was Mendoza.
After the private tasting, I joined the other guests at the bar and got to chatting to two other American backpackers. We started to talk about things to do outside of the city. I had recalled that earlier, in my hostel, I had seen a brochure for a water park at my hostel, and I brought it up to them as a suggestion for something different. After a few more glasses, we headed out to dinner.
Plans continued to evolve over dinner and as we said good night, the three of us agreed to meet in the morning at a statue in the park to head out for a day trip to the water park situated in the Andes.
When I returned to the hostel, I emailed with my new airport friends and we decided on Thursday for our wine tasting day together!
Thanks to a former colleague, I had plans at 5p to meet up with the marketing head at Vines of Mendoza to learn about project work. The Vines is a popular tasting room in the city of Mendoza but also has land for sale in the Uco Valley for people to purchase their own private villa and land for those wishing to own a piece of a finca (land belonging to the winery).
Between late morning and 5p, I had a few hours to myself and I was eager to explore. There were loads of tourist shops and many places offering wine tours. One of the popular tours was biking to the vineyards for wine tastings.
My new friends, Rafael and Gustavo, from the Cordoba airport had warned me against it since the bikes weren’t in the greatest condition and the vineyards were a pretty far ride. Without their warning, I was also hesitant to do the ride through the vineyards. I really enjoy wine tasting and vineyard hopping; however, the bikes, the distance and the blazing heat I felt on my first day did not make for a very enticing combination.
Instead I wandered. And wandered some more. I continued to explore Mendoza. Until I arrived, I didn’t realize Mendoza was an actual city. There were no vineyards where I was. Slightly disappointed but I knew I would get out to the vineyards on Thursday at the very least.
I stopped for lunch at an outdoor café in the center of town near the Havanna I had settled into earlier in the day. My table was adjacent to an elderly British couple traveling on, what they called, a grandparent gap year. They were finishing up their lunch but stayed at their table eager to chat with me. They embraced South American time and ordered another glass of wine, telling me that they would keep me company until my meal arrived. We had a lively conversation over my first glass, and their last, and I really enjoyed, and appreciated, their company.
My map reading skills failed me in Mendoza. I was chasing my tail using the map and got turned around so many times that I ditched the map (okay so I didn’t ditch it, I still needed it) but I just let myself decide where to wander and so I covered a fair bit of ground. Let it be known that Mendoza is supposedly an easy city to navigate.