I took an evening bus through the Andes from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza – a closer trip than going from Buenos Aires. It was a full moon and the landscape was stark and beautiful – black and grey mountains with silver channels running in between, glowing in the moonlight. I met Vicky from England at the border crossing and we spent the next few days making the most of the activities around Mendoza. Highlights were an evening full moon horseback ride through hilly trails to a ridge overlooking the city, the night sky lit by the big orange moon hanging just above. The ride ended at a gaucho camp where we had a bbq, my vegetarian dish being a red pepper cooked with 4 eggs inside – points for originality, if not as much for taste. After dinner we were serenaded by the fire by Diego, the more fierce of the gauchos and the most passionate and talented singer, who sang traditional songs of the region.
Vicky and I did a bicycle wine tour of Maipu, outside of Mendoza, which involved biking down a busy traffic filled street with no sidewalk, with less in the way of wineries and more olive oil tasting places with chalky chocolate. We did go to see the fancy and large-scale Trapiche winery, which exports to Canada and around the world.
The third day was a trip to the thermal hot springs, a big and fun water park with a lazy circular river, a tall slide into a big cold pool, and a variety of temperatures and sizes of baths – one you could lie in like in a lounge chair underwater, it was perfect. Friday night was the start of the Mendoza Wine Festival, and we caught the parade, where the Queens from the 23 municipalities of Mendoza rode on floats, some which were roasting meat (Argentina’s pride and joy) and most with dressed up women throwing grapes and other fruit into the crowd. With one hand I snatched a bunch of grapes right out of the air! How impressive is that?