Just when I thought my wine touring couldn’t get any better, I crossed into Argentina -the land of fabulous wine (and fabulous steak!).
The first stop on my list was the ever so normal and ever so boring city of Salta. At this point in my travels, wandering around the city’s Plaza de Armas was getting bit a old, and unfortunately Salta didn’t have much else to entertain me. Honestly, I’d say my favorite part of the stop was meeting 3 extremely entertaining Australians that told me my remaining travel plans sucked and that I should come with them instead (Obviously it wasn’t too hard of a sell). So after an intense night of wayyyy too much red wine, an extremely terrible excuse for live music and a late night wander through town, I jumped on the next overnight bus to Iguazu Falls.
As most of you probably don’t know (because I sure didn’t) the Iguazu Falls are one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. So naturally, this makes them a million times cooler and a million times more expensive to visit. But in all fairness, the waterfalls were pretty incredible, and the park was smartly designed to allow spectators to take them in from above, below, to the side, and even underneath through an extremely wet boat ride. And of course we did said boat ride because I’m with Australians and when would they not do something that could be somewhat dangerous? (I kid. It was uber safe, just like everything else in South America).
Aside from checking out the falls, we spent the better part of our trip to Iguazu scarfing down as many empanadas and glasses of wine as possible. The Australians had a serious dream of opening an empanada truck, so clearly I had to help them with the market research. And so far, the deep fried empanadas of Iguazu get my vote. They were so incredible that I’m salivating thinking about them right now. And naturally, at 5 Argentinian pesos a pop, we were shoveling as many golden fried goodies into our mouths as possible. And in regards to the empanda truck, there was the conversation of calling the empanadas “spanish pasties” instead, but I think you’ll agree that this sounds down right sexual. The Australians, however, did not agree. So be on the lookout for spanish pasties coming to a town near you!
With a stomach full of empanadas and cheap red wine (I really should say inexpensive, because the wine was nowhere near cheap in taste), I headed off on my own to the beautifully addictive city of Buenos Aires. A city where dinner starts at 10pm, cocktails at 12am, and the bar at 2am. What a dream! And every meal (even the bus meal!) consists of the most incredible steak you have ever had. A full steak dinner and bottle of wine for less than $20? Yes please. And if you know me, then you can guess what I did during my 5 day stopover. Eat steak. Drink wine. Eat more steak. Drink complimentary champagne because I was eating so much steak. Now to be fair, when I wasn’t being completely gluttonous, I did take time to waddle around the city to check out the beautiful architecture and even take an evening off to visit a friend from my days at Elon University. So I did some stuff! And aside from the incredible meals, Buenos Aires and its “portenos” were absolutely wonderful. I can definitely say that I would live there in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.
And finally, as if my liver hadn’t had enough, I jumped on yet another rousing overnight bus (finally my last!) to Mendoza -the wine capital of Argentina. Making the trip even more exciting was the fact that 3 of my friends from my Inca Jungle Trek in Peru would be joining me for a few days of vineyard exploration. I hadn’t seen them in about a month, so I was pretty pumped.
Lucky for us, Mendoza has what feels like over a thousand vineyards -lots to choose from! We decided on a little group of them that were accessible by bike. And the joy ride from winery to winery was just as fucking fantastic as it sounds. And to make it even better, one of our stops was actually to a liquor/absinthe producer. At that point, I’m not really sure if I was swerving around in traffic or not, but cycling to keep up with my friends that chose to forgo both free shots was EXTREMELY challenging. But I survived, which is all the matters. And I was allowed to once again partake in an activity that would never fly in the U.S. (at least with heavy traffic involved).
Now, some of you may be thinking “But Jill, how did your body cope with so much wine and meat and partying?” Well, the truth is, IT DIDN’T. The day after the tipsy bike ride, my body went into freakout mode – complete with croup cough, faucet nose, and exhaustion. It was so bad that I had to extend my time in Mendoza to somewhat recover before I headed back across the border to my exit town of Santiago. But in the end, every cut of steak and sip of wine was completely worth it.
So I guess my next question is…When can I do this AGAIN!?
*Please excuse the terrible picture order. My little Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 started tweaking out from the oh-so strenuous task of uploading pictures. It’s been a long 3 months for this little guy!