We have finally pulled ourselves out of Patagonia, although it wasn’t easy. On Thursday we flew to Buenos Aires and ran into a series of annoying travel issues, like Aerolineas Argentinas deciding to fly us to a different airport than originally promised without notice. We didn’t actually know where we were when we landed until we walked out and things didn’t look right. For example, our rental car was at the other airport. Aaah, Argentina. I blame it on Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Look her up.
After the hassle (including some cathartic insults cast in the direction of various unapologetic porteños), we had a relaxed evening in the Puerto Madero neighborhood and rested for the next day. Upon waking, I hit the street to find a map of Argentina so we could figure out where to go and how to get there, when I ran into a cloud of chemicals so caustic my eyes started to water instantly. Apparently, someone had stored something improperly in a container in the port. This led to an explosion that sent poisonous pesticides throughout the city. The people on the news freaked out and told everyone to stay inside. Aaah, Argentina. Once again, I blame it on Cristina.
Then we drove about 11 hours west to San Luis, mostly because we just couldn’t go any farther. We found a spot to stay the night and the next day swung by Sierra de las Quijadas National Park. It was another beautiful place, and a distinct change. In just a couple days we had left this:
We hung out in the park for a few hours before heading to Mendoza. This is another great Argentinian town, with the added benefit that Mendoza is a surprisingly well-planned city with great public spaces, tree-lined streets, and access to some amazing wineries. So what do you do in wine country?
We first headed to a winery called Ruca Malen, which means “the house of Malen” in the Mapuche language. There we had a five-course meal with wine pairings. I was pretty surprised that for a very reasonable price, we got: 1) a detailed written description explaining how the characteristics of each wine paired with the ingredients in each dish, 2) a sample from each of their categories of wine, including their top-line stuff, and 3) a fantastic meal.
The following day we took a tasting class at the Familia Zuccardi winery. Again, amazing value. Our teacher, Pedro, was passionate about getting us to really smell and taste the subtleties in each one. He liked to compose the wine out of its different aromas by putting different fruits, nuts, etc, next to each other and shoving his nose into the middle of it all. It was very cool how he could reverse engineer the aroma of each wine. We had so much fun, we signed up for their cooking class, which we’re doing tomorrow. I guess you really can’t go wrong in wine country. Aaah, Argentina.