Mendoza & Andes Mountains

Day 56-58.

Viernes – Lunes (Fri – Mon). Nov 6-8, 2009.

I just returned from an amazing weekend in the Andes Mountains! It was so nice, once again, to get away from the busy city of Buenos Aires and enjoy the fresh air of the mountains.  On Friday we enjoyed a day of bike riding through the wineries outside the city. We began our self-guided bike tour with a lunch at the Familia Di Tommaso Winery (shown in the first photo with the wine glass in front of the vineyard). It was relaxing which worked out well since we had 10km or so to ride throughout the afternoon. From there we headed over to the Leau Olive Oil Field to see how olive oil is made and have a taste. We finished the afternoon with a ride up to one more winery and finally to the chocolate & liquors factory called Historias & Sabores. The liquors were stout and sweet but were a perfect ending to our bike riding. I can now truly say I have ridden a bike through the vineyards of the Andes Mountains and enjoyed a taste of the wine while riding. Well not while actually on the bike…I don’t believe in drinking and driving…but you get the point 🙂

Saturday consisted of horseback riding along the Andes Mountains.  We took a 2-hour ride west of Mendoza to an estancia (ranch) in the mountains.  Unfortunately, I was given a horse that was very sick and so I ended up at the end of the pack the ENTIRE time. However, I saw this as a plus side and used it to my advantage. With the slow, but beautiful horse, I was able to get some wonderful photographs while riding. After riding for about an hour the tour guide let us actually RUN with our horses. I personally have never fully sprinted on a horse before so it was a new experience. However, with my horse being sick I did not think he would run at all. While all the other horses were sprinting he would just canter very slowly as if he thought he was running, haha. Then, all of a sudden, he took off in a full-on sprint! I wasn’t even ready for it. I nearly fell off the horse and had to hold on to his mane and in front of the saddle to balance myself in order to keep myself aboard. Thankfully he only last about 20 seconds, then he went back to only a fast canter. To say the least…it was exhilarating! After that adventure we moved back over to the estancia and were given the chance to round up the wild horses by the estancia (2nd photo below). After riding around for the afternoon we ended back up at the estancia where they had an asado (cookout) ready for us. It was unlimited meats, salad, vegetables, and wine. Then they finished up with a delicious piece of flan and dulce de leche on top. It was an amazing afternoon. We took our 2-hour ride back in to the city and enjoyed a nap at the hostel before heading out for dinner. After 2 nights in a row of eating meat we decided to go to the best Italian restaurant in the town. When we walked in we felt very under-dressed and knew it was going to be expensive. Either way we ordered our food and enjoyed amazing service from the waiters. In the end we each paid around $8 USD for our meal and wine. Not too bad, huh?

After a long 2 days of riding on bikes and horseback we unanimously made the decision to have a relaxing day. We took a taxi out to the largest park in the city (4th photo below). In fact, the park is massive in itself. There is a lake along the side of it where we ate lunch with a view of the lake. Two of us ordered hamburgers and it turns out in the restaurant if you order a hamburger it comes with only meat and cheese….no bread! I am sorry but isn’t the definition of a hamburger: meat with a piece of bread on each side?! After our (half) lunch we wandered into the park where we picked up some ice cream from an ice cream truck in the park. Thankfully though, they were not playing annoying music the entire time. The ice cream was absolutely amazing and hit the spot. We sat out at the park enjoying our ice cream while we watched all of the locals play futbol (soccer) with family and friends.

The weekend was quite eventful and relaxing at the same time. It is always nice to have a break away from the big city for a weekend!

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