I’m not having a glass of wine… I’m having six. It’s called a tasting and it’s classy.
If ever there was a sentiment that applied to Mendoza it should be this! We’ve just spend the past week in Mendoza and Salta, in the stunning countryside dwarfed by the phenomenal Andes Range. Mendoza is wine country and of course it would be rude if we didn’t sample ALLLL the local wine at our disposal..and what better way than to hire bikes and ride through the vineyards!
Just south of Mendoza is Chacras De Coria, the sweetest little village surrounded by outlying vineyards. We decided against joining a tour and made up our own! We hired a bike where the owner gave up a map and highlighted the best wineries to visit and off we went! Riding through tree lined leafy streets, gradually becoming less steady and more raucous on our bikes, doing wheelies and burnouts and getting SO much air… Highlight was definitely Alta Vista Vineyard, where we got a super cute gourmet picnic and wine pairing, followed by a private vineyard tour and tasting!
We’re staying in a really fun, social hostel and the world proves just how small it is when we manage to befriend an Aussie firefighter from Tamworth. We spend our evenings having family communal dinners and card games, where the vino flows into the early hours and we end arguments by aceing pull-up and handstand pushup competitions. You clearly can’t take Crossfitters anywhere… The Canadians and Dutch thought we were crazy!
Salta, Salta, I think I left my heart in Salta.
So we recruited our new firefighting-patisserie chef-film maker friend Paul to come to Salta with us. After 17 hours on an overnight bus we arrived at our hostel at about 3 pm and needed to stretch our legs! Salta is a small city at the base of the Andes with incredible scenery, so we took a hike up a nearby hill that has a fabulous view of the entire city. 1070 cobbled steps later and we were rewarded with the most insane sunset over the city, followed by the cruisy cable car to the bottom where we came upon a bunch of locals having a street festival. So we made ourselves a dinner of street cart food and wine! We immediately loveeeee this city.
We spend the entire next day-13 hours of it- exploring neighbouring towns to the North of Salta, near the Bolivian border. These towns become more and more native with women in traditional dress and you notice far less tourists and westernisation. We visited Purmamarca –home of the freaking fantastical “Seven coloured hill” … photographs just don’t do this justice. The rock face is literally layers of different colours, bright reds and greens-it’s phenomenal. We visited some ancient ruins, had a lunch in a local Pena, where a band play traditional instruments and music while you feast and got to see a panoramic sunset over Salta on our way home. Paul, Britt and I had planned to on an adventure mountain biking trip down the Andes the next day so we thought we’d have a quiet night as we had to be up at 6am.
Well. The say the best laid plans…
One minute the three of us are planning some quiet cheese and biscuits, next minute we’ve adopted an assortment of solo foreigners, we’ve downed god only knows how many bottles of wine and we’re tearing holes in an Argentinian dance floor at a club packed full of locals. I think at one point Britt got into a crumping competition with a local and I lost count of how many Pisco Sours were consumed. We stumbled home at 6am where Brit managed to sleep for at least 20 minutes, only to be woken by me furiously shaking her awake and demanding she eat some cornflakes and put some damn pants on! Between the three of us still rather drunk, we jumped in the car to head up the mountain. After 2 hours of winding turns, I was forced to politely yell at our guide to pull over so I could lose my cornflakes. I don’t know why he didn’t believe me when I said I got travel sick, hadn’t he heard about the Uruguay ferry!? I guess picking up 3 drunk Australians made him dubious…
And what a way to sober up! We arrived at the top of the mountain range, we were given our bikes and the three of us spent the next 90 minutes cruising down 46 kilometres of hairpin turns through the most spectacular scenery of the Andes mountain range. Talk about exhilarating-we were well and truly revived and rejuvenated and our souls were laughing and smiling all day. When we got to the bottom we had a beautiful picnic lunch at the foot of the range and topped it off with an Argentinian Steakhouse. Definitely our favourite day so far!
Britt and I also wen’t with our new German friend Mikko to a local Crossfit box, where not a soul spoke and english but they were so excited to have us and welcomes us with open arms. We now cannot move. 6 weeks off training has made us phenomenally sore. Maybe next week I’ll be able to tie my shoes with ease.
Our last night of Salta saw our travelling posse grow to include the Dutch and German and another solo Dutch girl who all decided to come with us to Bolivia. One girl at the hostel had just finished telling us how her friends got kidnapped when crossing the border to Bolivia, so we figure, safety in numbers yeah? Surely no one is going to kidnap all 6 of us…right?
So we all booked a night bus that unfortunately didn’t leave til 12:30am so we spent our evening making pasta, garlic bread, playing cards and polishing off 9 bottles of wine…. um…. throw in another two British solo’s and we had ourselves a proper gypsy dinner!
We made it to the bus terminal, I left my coat in a taxi and were almost refused entry on the bus because the driver saw us dancing, decided we were all drunk tourists and very adamantly refused us. Carilyn our Dutch friend has a bit of Spanish, so we recruited some policemen and entered into a fifteen minute argument on why weren’t drunk but just having some kind of fun dance competition and should be let on. Passports checks, some sweet negotiation and generous bag fees later and the 6 of us are off to Bolivia!
We we’re very hungover sleepy when we disembarked at 7 am, grabbed our stuff and made the kilometre walk to the border to cross by foot. Mikko lost his wallet on the bus, buy luckily someone turned it in! AFTER they raided it and stole all his money. Probably the angry bus driver who refused to let us get on and only reneged because the police forced him. After our early morning crossing we arrived in Tupiza, a small town in Southern Bolivia where we begin our 4 day salt flat tour in our new rat-pack group of 6.
Now it’s time to buy myself a new coat (fail) stock up on food and toilet paper and maybe another 9 bottle of wine.