A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: senete

My Birthday!!

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6/4 Relaxation was the theme of the day!

On the recommendation of yesterday’s vineyard tour guide, we checked in to Solaz de los Andes Hotel Spa, took some spectacular hot showers and, feeling cleaner than we have in a few days, robed up for a hydrotherapy circuit. We couldn’t help but find humor in the fact that, pretty much everything from organic wine production and intersection right of way goes unregulated in Argentina, but a relaxing sauna-steam-salt bath sequence needs to be followed in the most strict of orders. Birthday girl pretended that my English interpretation of the minute details were inadequate and chose her own order, even going so far as to start the water for her own bath, rather than join me for the prescribed 15 minutes of dry sauna. This only resulted in my sauna being interrupted by the circuit director, who profoundly apologized for not having been more clear about the procedure. Apparently, Shannon had found a superb place for sun bathing on the wooden deck and was perfecting the temperature for her private bath when she was informed that her bath was premature. She mustered a very “no hablo español” expression. Language ignorance can be bliss, especially on your birthday.

We ordered room service, complete with steak, crisp sprouts, sweet potatoes and heart of palm made with Mendocino olive oil and a perfection of spices, chocolate fondue with fruits and sweets, and a bottle of wine recommended by Mauricio the chef, for $30! Shannon called both of her mommies, sister and twin while I sunbathed through the window and did some much-needed sit-ups and push-ups! The crisp air in Mendoza, combined with year-round sunshine, makes for an ideal climate to grow Malbec grapes, allowing their sugars to form at the right time and altitude. It also makes it a touch cold to sit poolside in early June, the start of their winter, but too gorgeous not to soak up some rays through the window.

It’s been nice to play by ear this last portion of our trip, though it has meant that we have cut Chile seriously short. Argentina has simply failed to give us an obvious moment in which to excuse ourselves. We are looking into staying at a rustic lodge in the middle of wine country tomorrow night and then leaving on a 6-hour bus trip over the Andes and into Santiago on June 6. That would leave that night and the following 2 days to explore Chile’s capital city, nearby Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, ambitious but in the interest of doing Chile some justice, we’re going to try to fit in as much as we can.

We decided to head out on the town for my birthday dinner and asked for a recommendation from the gentleman that was working the front desk. As usual, the recommendation was amazing! We arrived at the restaurant at 9:45pm (a touch on the early side for Argentineans). We were treated to another mind-blowing meal with a skewer of beef chorizo, grilled tomatoes and onions along side another huge cut of steak! I saw them making a drink that I thought was limon cello, so I asked if that was what it was and, before I knew it, the owner was pouring the rest of the pitcher in a glass for me to have free of charge! It was the pisco sour that both Peru and Chile claim to have invented, minus the egg white. It was delicious. At the end of the meal they came to the table with two limon cellos and a tiramisu with a table candle placed in it then sang happy birthday in Spanish. When it came time for them to say my name the owner hesitated and gestured for me to assist him; for some odd reason I shouted out my age instead of my name, which elicited a great laugh. Then after dinner Leigh asked the bar tender how to make a limon cello (it is a tiny drink that is refreshing after a meal made of fermented lemon zest and sugar to taste) and as he is explaining it, he pours two more for us to try. We told them that we had just had some but he insisted. So we ended up with 5 free beverages. And the owner gave me a big hug and kiss on the top of my head. He was adorable. I asked him if he had any kids and when he replied many, I told him that I could tell that he would be a great dad. What a special ending to a spectacular birthday! We left around midnight, at which time the dinner scene at the restaurant was booming.

Posted by senete 04:27 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Every day is a tango!

Argentina day 1

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5/26 Everyday is a Tango

We arrived safely in Buenos Aires around 5:30am and checked into a laidback, very helpful hostel that Romeo, Helga’s son who is here in Bs As studying graphic design, had recommended. After a morning nap to compensate for our sleepless night, we set out to explore the San Telmo neighborhood. This is, by far, the busiest and most spread out city either of us has ever visited. The pedestrian masses, weaving themselves across streets in a tango of foot traffic, fascinated Shannon. We hopped on the Subte metro to make reservations for our trip to Iguazú Falls. Romeo stopped by to welcome us to his current city and pick up a care package his mom had asked us to deliver. Next, we experienced La Florida, a pedestrian-only stretch of downtown where street vendors set up, and a tango group performs and invites visitors to participate. The DJ played a representative song for each observer, according to their country of origin. Shannon and I shot each other a nervous glance, expecting Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” or something of similar caliber and were relieved when we were honored class by Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” We snuck down a less busy street in search of dinner and scored with a scrumptious empanada and wine dinner with a charming waiter and some excited Hinchas (Boca Junior soccer fans) in the background. To finish off our first day in Argentina, we tried to replicate some new tango moves, an endeavor that resulted in me falling clumsily against a door and making a ridiculously loud noise. Luckily, I may have the chance to redeem my dancing self on Friday; Romeo and his girlfriend Cecilia, a swing dance instructor, have invited us to a beginner’s class.

Posted by senete 04:58 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

My last day in my 20s!!

Ahhh!!!

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6/03 MY LAST DAY IN MY 20S!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We arrived in Mendoza around 8am, and went to the first hostel we saw and passed out until about noon. After we woke up we walked to the Independence plaza and watched teenagers juggle a soccer ball. We also marveled that we had not seen more car accidents since we had almost been run over numerous times and had seen many close calls with intersections without the slightest guidance of who has ride of way.

We decided to take a wine tour of two vineyards in Mendoza and one olive oil pressing factory. It was very informative and a great experience. I had no idea how extensive the process was! Our guides spoke excellent English and we meet some fun people from Australia, England, Brazil, and Venezuela. We got a great recommendation for dinner from one of our guides. Once again we had amazing filet mignon with mushrooms and a red wine reduction sauce. We ordered one plate and split it and still had leftovers! In the states a Filet is usually about 6 or 8 ounces here it was probably 3x the size and under half of the price! That is my way to dine!!

We are hoping to find a nicer hotel tomorrow (one where the shower has a drip pan, instead of spitting water onto the toilet and sink, and drains in the middle of the bathroom floor for example) for my birthday and maybe indulge in a couples massage!

Posted by senete 04:26 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza!

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6/02- It’s cold; let's head north to wine country!

We said goodbye to Patagonia early, rather than embarking on a catamaran-bus combination to Chile on the lakes that became choppier each day we stayed. Instead we found a double decker bus with leather seats that recline about 160 degrees with foot rests! It took about 17 hours to get to Mendoza from Bariloche, and this was much more economic than a last minute flight or paying to drop our rental in a different city. We slept most of the time, but when we were awake and it was light out the views were breath taking. We kept laughing and looking at each other, marveling over the fact that, besides our highway, there were absolutely no structures, destinations or stops for miles on end amongst spectacular desert and oasis-like landscapes. We kept looking at each other and asking, "Seriously, we're just driving by all of this?!” The bus attendant served dinner, a few snacks, wine, and offered entertainment with 3 movies and bingo!

Posted by senete 04:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Patagonia Trek

6/01 Patagonia Trek—Some of the most surreal euphoric landscapes in the world!

Since Leigh and I had a rental car at our disposal we opted to take a 2+ hour trek to a region called Tronador, which is located along the Chilean-Argentinean border amongst glaciers and volcanoes, as well as a variety of animals. We heard first hand the sound of the glaciers cracking and falling (calving), a haunting sound amongst the silence that the valley enables. After our trek we returned home to the killer apartment pad, did some journaling while watching the Andes overlook the lake.

Incidentally, on our way out of town, while searching for a place to drop off laundry, a group of 5 teens tried to discourage Shannon from driving down a particular street. She thought they were asking for a ride and drove right by them, which secured us front row seats for their one block march of solidarity. All I could make out from one sign as it rushed by was "Basta... (Enough...)"

Posted by senete 04:21 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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