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Published: September 30th 2017
The first winery of the day.
Geo: -32.8927, -68.8331
So I started this blog out with an entry called "Twisting and turning, in a space that's too small". Well, last night I was tossing and turning, in a space that's too small - these friggin' beds are tiny! Not only are they so short that my ankles are dangling off the end, but the bed is just barely wider than the width of my shoulders.
Sleeping on such a narrow bed meant that I needed to toss and turn in place, or risk falling off the bed, resulting in the sheets repeatedly getting pulled off of the mattress. I woke up feeling like a goat being choked to death by a python, because I was completely intertwined with the sheets. Wade didn't fare much better - his bed was right up against the wall, so he kept banging his knee every time he turned over.
Breakfast - the place serves some phenomenal honeydew, perfect for my sore throat. I've noticed that the A/C units are really drying my throat out as I sleep. Some salty ham, salami, cheese, biscuits, cereal, and a nice assortment of pastries rounded out the spread. For the pastries, I only managed to sample
Beautiful grapes that will one day turn into beautiful wine.
a very sweet, but decent coconut pastry, as we were in a bit of a hurry to leave for a winery tour.
Our tour guide for the day (Carolina, I think), had a very nice accent, so that was a good start to the day! The first winery was completely organic, and the winery's tour guide was late, so the owner ended up showing us around.
Apparently, Argentina is quite lucky because there are no insects here that attack the vines, and fungus is not a big problem because it's not overly-humid in the wine-growing regions here. There were some interesting bits presented on the tour, but honestly, I've done enough of these over the years, so on to the best part - the tasting! We sampled a Moscat late-harvest wine - not very sweet, but quite aromatic.
Up next was a cooking class, at the San Antonio Mountain Refuge. Cold! We definitely weren't prepared for the weather, as on this tour, we never seem to be aware of many little details such as this. We warmed up quickly once they got some fires going and we had some yerba mate.
Before starting the class, we were all asked to
Rachel is studying to be a photographer and has this cool camera - it's a new camera, but made in the old style. We were never sure if she was actually taking photos underneath that cloak, or conducting some type of pagan ritual.
go to the bathroom and wash our hands. I can't even remember the context, but Rachel said one of the funniest things we all heard on the entire trip. She didn't mean for it to sound the way it did, but before going to the bathroom, she yelled to everybody "Don't worry, I'm not washing my hands!" We all laughed, but made a mental note NOT to eat any of her empanadas ...
After finishing up the interactive portion of the cooking lesson, we watched the cooks prepare some flan, the cooking class finished up, and we were directed to the sitting room of the retreat. Argentinians are a very social people, and the quintessential gathering is usually a BBQ with friends and family. We were told that the tradition is to drink wine and have some nibbles while the meat is roasting. None of us hesitated to participate in such a wonderful social event!
While I'm definitely not a fan of organized tours, I must admit that this definitely is NOT the typical type of experience that I would have as a backpacker. I generally wouldn't splurge for something like this, and to be perfectly honest, even if I had
Instead of steel tanks, the wine was produced in these cement structures. It was a little creepy down there, as it felt like it might be haunted. Ben actually took a very disturbing photo down there - there was nothing there at the time, but in the photo, there is a ghostly apparition ...
been traveling solo and seen something like this advertised, I would've ignored it. That would have been a shame, because we would all later agree that this was the single best day of the entire GAP tour.
Good wine, good food, good conversation, all enjoyed by the fireplace ... it really made me appreciate having such a great group of people on this tour. I haven't done any of them before, but I'm almost certain that many of these tours end up having a bunch of jackasses that irritate everybody. I'm happy to say that we don't have a single one on this tour! Of course, I could be one ... but you'd have to ask the others about that!
I'm used to traveling cheaply and roughing it to a certain degree when I backpack. But it was definitely nice to have this relatively luxurious type of experience, and was nice to try something different. I do love the backpacker-style of travel, and it's a great way to see Europe without blowing a fortune, but when traveling in an inexpensive continent like South America, you should definitely take advantage of some of these experiences, at least a few times.
don't think anybody wanted to leave, but we needed to move on to the next winery. Upon arrival, our tour guide told us "You all smell like BBQ!" Ahh ... the memories ... good times, good times ... I experienced quite a touching moment at this winery - Wade, in a gesture that proved he was a TRUE brother, pointed a drop-dead gorgeous girl that was walking around the winery's grounds. All I can say is ... WOW ... Wade, you're a good man!
Though Ha did tease me, saying she was much too young for an old man like me. But hey - she was wearing an engagement or wedding ring, so she was obviously mature enough! And like fine wine - it's not when it was produced, it's the quality of the vintage! And whatever year she was born in, it was obviously a GREAT year 😊
Carmine Granata is another relatively small, family-run winery. Being late in the day, we only received a short, but great tour, as our guide was pretty funny. He had this uncanny knack for seeing cameras out of the corner of his eyes, and would always mug a little bit (ok, actually a
The previous two tastings we had in Chile didn't offer us any water to rinse out our glasses, inbetween wines. I guess Concha Y Toro spent all their money on that lame-ass "Casillero del Diablo" presentation in the cellar, so they couldn't afford to give us a bit of water!
LOT), just before the photo was taken.
Back to the hotel, for some chilling, journal writing, and TV. King Arthur, the version with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, was playing. It was crappy when I first watched it in Canada, and all that wine I had earlier still couldn't make it a good movie! Still too full from lunch, most of us skipped dinner. Though I did munch on a bunch of empanadas that they had given us in a doggy bag ...
Later on, R&D, Danie and Rachel, Wade, and myself were taken out by Martin, to a place called Zinc. Martin ended up ordering this amazing-looking beef and provolone sandwich, which tempted Wade enough to order one for himself, which tempted me enough to have half of his. There's nothing like eating a delicious sandwich so juicy and greasy, that it all runs down the sides of your hands ...
I still can't get over how cheap it is here in South America. We probably had about 1.5 L of Heineken each and even with our sandwiches, I think Wade and I only paid $5 apiece. And we might've had even more beer than that, because we ended up
A little free advertising for the winery.
playing some drinking game, and the 1 L bottles were coming at a pretty quick rate.
And I'm sorry Danie, but I must really tell this story - Danie did something hilarious this evening, but it was something that we've ALL done before. Know how it is when you need to discreetly let one rip amongst people, so you lean just a little to one side, and quietly let it go? Well, Danie tried the same, but unfortunately for her, she didn't lean JUST a little, and it wasn't so quiet.
For a moment, there was stunned silence, as our Heineken-soaked brains were a bit slow to process the event - but then Ranjit broke the awkward silence with "Danie, did you just let one rip?" But give Danie credit, she immediately owned up to it, and even started cracking jokes about it. But perhaps the funniest part was that it looked like she was purposely farting at Wade. Good times, good times!
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