A Merry Malbec Christmas

Trip Start Dec 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Estancia El Puesto

Flag of Argentina  , Central Argentina,
Monday, December 27, 2010

I've never liked bus stations, no matter what town or city or what time of day (Balarat in Oz, Manilla, Denpasar.... none of them have good memories for me), they always attract the type of people that don't enhance your time in a country but are probably key to gaining an all round experience of a place. Buenos Aires bus station was no different, over priced refreshments, chaos, people with too much luggage, delayed buses and this time we also found "los robas" - the theives! I spotted one with one hand in my pocket whilst the other hand was unzipping my bag and there was another doing the same to Sonia. Luckily I kept hold of my valuables whilst my sister wasn't so lucky and lost the lot (passport, phone, debit card, money... ). We'd been lulled into a false sense of security but the bus station is always a good place to give you a dose of reality - so the fashionable accessory of a money belt is fully back in action.

Cordoba is the second biggest city in Argentina and full of universities, had a great student quarter with night markets, african bongo bands and dancing. The Jesuit architecture in the churches and university buildings was impressive and very elaborate. But there's only so much city sight seeing you can do in 37 degree heat so I mixed it up with a bit of swimming - where I'm now getting used to the medical examinations you have before a swim in a public pool. First shower, then you get ushered into the examination room where they check for dirty finger nails, foot rot, athletes foot, hair lice, infected armpits and scabbies... The first time I came across this in BA, my spanish failed me and I didn't have a clue what was going on as my limbs were pulled here and there but now its all part of the routine of going for a dip!

The Estancia el Puesto in the foothills of the Andes was a stunning contrast to the cities, with amazing views, total tranquility, resident gauchos, a handful of big characters who ran the place, a fine looking spaghetti gaucho (Daniel from Italy) and too much food and wine even for the Whitehead family! The typical day on the estancia consisted of eat,horse ride, drink, eat, sleep, ride, drink, eat, drink, sleep - all with an amazing back drop of snow capped mountains and Cerro Aconcagua (highest peak in the Americas). 3 days wasn't enough but it was a great way to spend Christmas.

I dropped back in Mendoza and with no time to visit all of the vineyards we wanted to, we found the perfect answer - a tasting room. We sat down and tasted 10 different wines (6 white and 4 red) at The Vines by a server with some great knowledge of local wines with the winners being the red Bodoba and the white Torrentes.

Highlight - having an "asado" (BBQ) on Christmas day where we ate our way around the cow enjoying views over the Andes after a run and a horse ride in the foothills of the Andes contemplating climbing ....

What tickeled my sense of humour - at the Tango / Karaoke show, in Cordoba Argentina's version of the Golden Girls got up to sing the spanish version of "silent night". They looked like they'd all paid a visit to an apprentice plastic surgeon but hadn't yet looked in the mirror to work out correction surgery was now required!

Steak count - 11 (and that include 3 steak free days...) - slowing down but not by much...
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