04.06.2010 - 04.06.2010
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.