Bikes and Bodegas!
Most people come to Mendoza for the wine tasting. There are over 1,500 Wineries in the region! Blake found a hostel (called Hostel Wineries) in Conquimbito, a town about 15 miles south of Mendoza. It's in a main area of the Maipú region which has about 20 vineyards within fairly close proximity. It's a popular area for biking to the vineyards.
The hostel ended up being more of a home stay which was a definite bonus. We're all about the cultural experiences! The owner turned half the rooms in his house into bedrooms with bunk beds. He kept one bathroom for him and his mother and the other for his residents.
Since we arrived a bit late, the owner was waiting outside for us. He didn't speak much English but was super nice and helpful as we struggled through our Spanish. We chatted with him and his mother for a bit at the kitchen table while he explained a map of the area. Because we were staying for two nights, he gave us a voucher for 2 free bike rentals! He also served us breakfast in the morning (croissants with butter and jam and coffee/tea). For $10 a night per person, we got a place to stay (with air conditioning!), breakfast, free bikes, and a family to practice our Spanish with! It was only us and another couple staying at his house so we got a room to ourselves as a bonus. We loved it!
The one bummer about the small town was the lack of restaurants and grocery stores open past 6pm. We didn't arrive until 7:30 so when we set out to find dinner, we had to settle for pre-made sandwiches and chips from a gas station. We should have planned ahead or gotten food at the bus station. Oh well.
We got up and ate breakfast at 9am the next day and walked about 5 minutes to the bike rental shop. They gave us another map and some waters, and let us know that there is a free happy hour at the attached wine bar at 5pm if we make it back by then. Sweet! We were on our way.
By 10 am it was already 90 degrees! We were drenched in sweat within minutes of riding our bikes. We apologized for our appearance when we arrived at the first winery but the server said not to worry and that everyone looks the same. We quickly realized this must be the norm. Many people ride bikes and not one winery we visited had air conditioning! Or if they did have it, they didn't turn it on! The day was hot and sweaty but super fun!
Our first winery was Carinae. A French couple owns it and produces some delicious Malbec! The husband is into astronomy and wanted to be close to the mountains so he could take his telescopes up whenever he wants.
Our next winery was Tommaso and I believe it's the oldest in the area. We got a mini tour of the original building and vineyards after enjoying our tasting.
Our third winery, Mevi, has the best view in the area with the Andes mountains as a backdrop to the vineyard. Half of the snow capped mountains were covered by clouds but it was still beautiful. We decided it would be a good time to get some lunch.
And as it goes, we can't remember the names of the fourth and fifth wineries but we remember the other important parts! We shared a table with some guys from London and chatted about our travels. The last winery of the day had some delicious empanadas and the server commended us for carrying ourselves so well after 5 wineries. :)
We rode our bikes back to the shop and ended up making it to happy hour for one more glass of wine. We walked up the street and got some ice cream and were back at our place and in bed by 8pm!
After nearly 11 hours of sleep, we were ready for round two. This time, we set off on foot to a couple nearby wineries. We visited Trapiche, one of the oldest and biggest in the region. Their wines can be found all over the world. Our tasting also included a 45 minute tour.
Just half a mile up the road is Alandes, which used to be run by an Italian family. We also had a short tour and enjoyed some empanadas with our tasting. This was our final winery of the trip. We walked back to our hostel to get our bags and say goodbye.
We figured out how to take the local bus and arrived back in Mendoza city center at 3:30. We put our bags in luggage storage at the bus station and set out to see the city. We walked around the cute tree lined streets, had some coffee, shared a delicious dinner, hung out in the park and were back at the bus station by 9pm for our overnight bus to Buenos Aires!