We broke up the journey to Chile with a few days in sunny Mendoza.
We’d been recommended to take a bus out to the wineries and hunt down a character called Mr Hugo, who gave us both huge hugs and packed us off with bikes, maps and a stack of discount cards for the different producers.
We spent hours cycling between different vineyards, cycling becoming more of a wobble as the day wore on The tastings here are very generous and we learnt a lot about grape varieties and how to assess a wine. Incredibly Argentina exports very little of its wine as the taxes and duties to be paid make the business not worthwhile. This means for us that the wine we see back home has come from the big players and is excessively overpriced in order to make a profit.
Luckily for us the wine that remains in the country is superb and we picked up a few Malbecs as presents.
Our last meal in Argentina just had to be steak! Or in Stefan’s case, a huge mixed grill of questionable origins that sparked a game of “guess the offal”.
The bus to Chile came with the usual South American flourishes: delays while the border staff tried it decide whether or not to strike today (they did… For a whole hour), horrific roads, screaming kids, incredibly loud and terrible films, and then a thorough 2 hour search and X-ray ordeal at border control.
With just one day to explore Santiago we wandered through parks, snuck into a couple of art galleries, ate at the bustling fish market and generally got pretty fed up with Chilean prices and rudeness! One day was enough.
Six countries and three months was a great taster of South America but has left us with a desire to come back. Bolivia and Peru has been thoroughly explored but we’d love to do the north of the continent – start in Columbia and move up through Central America – and would also love to go through Patagonia to the very bottom.
But…. Next stop —> New Zealand!