Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mendoza

I apologize profusely for the 3 year delay; however, since coming back from South America, we've been too busy with things like getting married, moving to Calgary, starting new jobs, buying our first house, traveling to Hawaii and Thailand to see Nigel and Emily marry Yoko and Mick (respectively), etc.  That being said, we were never able to finish the blog (we ended up being virtually stuck in Santiago - not such a bad place).  As it turns out, 3 years later, I finally have some time to myself to finish our South America blog.  Yes, some of the memories might be a little hazy, but I'll do my best to remember the end of our trip.  And so, without further ado - Mendoza


Mendoza was, in my opinion, the most beautiful city of our travels.  It's about the size of Victoria, filled with friendly people and amazing parks, and oh yes, it just so happens to be the wine capitol of Argentina!!!  Not a bad place to setup shop for a while!


Wherever you find yourself in Mendoza, you'll likely be a stone's throw away from a beautiful green space.  One of the first things that I did on the trip was rent a bike and tour around the area with a new found friend Lauren (who we met on the long and winding bus ride from Santiago).


On that bike ride, we saw countless lakes, bridges, fountains, and statues.



While Lauren and I peddled away, Lydia stayed behind to play with her new friends (that helped themselves into our room through the window).  Not seen here is one of the cutest dogs ever, who followed us around wherever we went.  It was so hard to leave him behind on our last day!


While in Mendoza (home of the best Malbecs in the world), it's mandatory to go on a wine tour.  We ended up going to about 4 different vineyards (of the hundreds in the area), plus a olive oil farm.


At each of the vineyards, we were able to taste an assortment of different wines.  Pictured above are Lydia and I with our friend from California (Lauren) in one of the tasting rooms, with the beautiful oak barrels in the background.  I thought it would be a cool project to turn one of those barrels into a wine rack - maybe that's something I can now take on in my free time!


Always remember to stop and smell the roses!


Another tasting area from the wine tour.


A glimpse into the future - Tyrone and Lydia Austen, after buying their Mendoza vineyard... mmmmmm


With the buzz of the wine tour still strong, our group decided to hit up our first parrilla (ridiculous meat restaurant).  If you like meat, Argentina is THE place to be.  Their breakfast/lunch/dinner consists of meat, with a side of meat, with some meat sprinkled on top!  Not only that, but their steaks are to die for, and the food is cheap!  It's heaven for a carnivore like me!  Above is Lauren pictured next to the parrilla grill, where we stopped for dinner - an all you can eat meatstraviganza for around $15 if I remember correctly.  One of the best meals ever!  

One funny thing about this meal was that we had a large group with us from the wine tour, several of the people were really fun, so we wanted to have a night with them.  Also attending the tour though was the stereotypical obnoxious American tourist (*note, the people that we got along with were also American, so nothing against Americans - it's just that this one was like Eddie from National Lampoons vacation).  So when the friend group tried to leave for our night out, cousin Eddie decided to follow us, and we had a bitch of a time trying to lose him.  We ended up walking around for like an hour and a half until he got tired and went home!  lol


That there is steak with a side of ribs, blood sausage, bacon, and something green so you can pretend it's healthy.  Awllwwwwwllwwwwwww (drool)


Argentina also has a huge art scene (which we found throughout our time there).  Our first major Argentine artistic experience came walking home from our night out, when we stumbled upon this street artist.  Cigarette in one hand, and a can of spray paint in the other, this gaucho, dressed all in black, was incredible to watch.  He brooded to his tango music blasting on the radio, while he free styled his works of art.  No paint brushes, only spray paint and torn phone books were used to produce beautiful landscapes that were trapped in his mind's eye.  We loved him/his work so much that we stayed there and watched him for over an hour, buying 3 different pieces of work (one for us, one for Nigel, and Lauren bought a one or two pieces too)!



video

Watch and enjoy!  You won't get a more authentic Argentina experience from a video clip!  *Also note that we have a video of him jamming to Bohemian Rhapsody as well!  The guy is the boss!


Here's the final product of the painting he was working on from the video.  This now hangs proudly in our bedroom.


After a few days in Mendoza, we had to move on north, as our travel budget was starting to run low and we still had a lot to see.  In hindsight, I would have loved to spend more time in Mendoza.  Out of all the places we traveled in South America, Mendoza is the one place where I could actually see Lydia and I settling down to.  I can't think of a better place to become an alcoholic - OH the WINE and MEAT!!!!

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