Whoever said that mixing bike riding and alcohol was a bad idea, obviously hasn´t been on a gringo wine tour in Mendoza. At 9.45am our group of 7 keen gringos (the gypsy bus crew from BA to Mendoza) gathered at the entrance of Mr Hugo's. Mr Hugo's (backpacker tale famous) wine tour consists of supplying you with a bicycle, a (very inaccurate and not to scale) map, some discount cards, a glass of wine or 10 (pre and post tour) and sending you on your way. I think we were all as equally excited about riding bikes as we were about tasting wine - for at least the first half of the day.
As it was not yet midday we decided to start off easy and go to a wine museum - which also happened to be the only place you could try wine for free, but this is not the reason we went there...i swear!! After 20 minutes of pretending to be respectable we went straight to the chocolate factory/absinthe distillery. There is nothing like a shot of absinthe to kick start your day. All 7 of us were eager to sample the local produce, so as a group we each had a shot of this elusive green liquid. The room was momentarily quiet as we took the shot - quickly followed by coughs and splutters. Drinking it really made all of us feel like we had been throwing up for hours with the burning throat and momentary loss for words it brings.
The rest of the day was spent riding from winery, to beer garden, to winery sampling all the local produce. After the first winery we discovered that it was much cheaper just to buy a few bottles of wine between us and share them rather than paying for each of us doing a tasting - so this was our plan of attack in each place. We even managed to muster up a picnic in a vineyard, very civilised. It was an amazing day with so many laughs. Anyone who goes to Mendoza HAS to do it. I think lonely planet summed it up best.
¨It is a crime to go to Mendoza and not go to a vineyard. A crime people!¨
Yesterday BB and I went white water rafting in the Mendoza River. The drive out was amazing as we got to see the Andes close up for the first time. Our rafting group was 6 giggling girls from Australia (me & BB) and England (the other 4), so our rafting guide took it upon himself to make sure we all got as wet as possible during the trip. He´s obviously well practiced at this, as he has many different tricks to try and get us thrown into the water (some of which were successful), or just make sure we got absolutely drenched whilst still in the confines of the raft. BB managed not to fall in, I however was defeated by his trickery of making us sit ´horseriding´stance (one leg off the raft in the water and the other in the raft) and fell right into the freezing glacial river alongside the girl in front of me.
After rafting we were left to lay around in the sun, surrounded by mountains and just chill out for a few hours. Bliss. It feels like so long since we have been in the sun - it made me realise how much i miss being on the beach in Brazil. Definitely need to get some more outdoor time soon!
Tomorrow we´re heading off on the next leg of our gypsy train adventure - making a very slow and highly detoured way to Salta. Excited much.