The highlight of Mendoza, hands down: biking through the vineyards in Maipu. Only a 5AR, hour-long bus ride (on the 171, 172, or 173) into the countryside, Maipu is Malbec central.
There’s a dozen or so wineries all within incredibly close range (45 minute ride to the farthest one and only a couple minutes to closer ones), so the thing to do is to bike along on your own little vineyard-crawl, visiting all the tasting rooms you can before you collapse from all the vino. This ends up being one of the best days on the entire trip, but it is certainly to the surprise of everyone involved (aka me and Aristo) that I manage to emerge scratch-free.
I’m a bad biker. Like, really bad. I spend a lot of time defending myself, but if we’re being honest, it’s a personal miracle each and every time I get on a bike that I manage to get off in one piece. And that’s when I’m sober, so you can imagine the potential for disaster when we put a slightly intoxicated Brooke on a bike and ask her to ride straight.
We rent a bike from Mr. Hugo, a bike shop right on the main road, and spend the rest of the day downing glasses of amazing wine and sweating our brains out from the heat. It’s desert-temp scorching out here and it’s all we can do not to stroke out from the sun beating down on our heads. All that sun is good for our little grape friends, though, and yields the strongest wine I’ve ever come across. More sun equals more fermentation equals more alcohol equals severely impaired biking abilities… That sort of thing.
All in all, we visit three wineries and drink 12 glasses of wine each (and none of these are what I’d consider “sample size”). It’s not long before I’m weaving all over the road (and occasionally the bike path), narrowly avoiding collisions with people and/or street signs. Aristo’s constantly struggling to stay out of my way before I run him down and I can’t be sure, but I think I am the reason other bikers keep moving to the opposite side of the road. All this seems incredibly amusing to me and the giggling is not making it any easier to steer.
It feels like a lifetime of near-death experiences before we’re back at Mr. Hugo’s to return the bikes and onto the bus, settling in for our hour ride. We’ve avoided paying the bus fare both to and from Maipu because we forgot to buy bus cards and both drivers refused our cash, which was a pleasant bonus.
Back at home, we cook up the Argentinian steak we had previously marinated in chimichurri (could write an entire blog about how much I love this stuff), and serve it with polenta, grilled onion, tomato, and fresh avocado. And, of course, no meal is complete without a bottle of Malbec. It’s a delicious end to an incredible day.