(October 13 – written by Dave)
Two days in Mendoza, so far so good. Yesterday on our second try, we found a bicycle shop to work on our bikes. Ironically, the first shop we visited had a person that spoke English well, but they couldn’t really help us. The second shop, Todociclismo, had no English speakers but a customer who happened to be in the shop stepped up and offered “translation services.” Even more importantly their head mechanic came out to talk with us and he clearly knew what he was doing. We go this evening to pick the bikes up – they should now be ready for the ride south, as soon as I get the tires rotated.
Getting to and from the bike shop, we walked a good part of the city gaining a feeling for Mendoza – it has a nice vibe. It’s not too busy, not too quiet. Like everywhere else in Argentina, many of the shops are closed during the siesta. But luckily, the coffee and ice cream shops don’t generally observe siesta so “food” is always available. We managed to find a Starbucks for afternoon tea and to get some ground coffee for our route south. There was a map of global coffee growing regions – we were excited to note that we’re officially south of the southern-most plantations.
In the evening we strolled through the Aristides area where there hundreds of great looking restaurants. In most of Argentina to date, restaurants don’t often open until 8:00 or 8:30. We were pleased to discover that most in Aristides are open from lunch through to dinner. You do feel a bit like an old fuddy duddy eating dinner at 7PM but well, I guess we are a little bit old fuddy duddy anyway.
Nancy had a long list of places to try in Aristides so we had to wander a bit to pick just the right one. We were expecting there to be a big wine focus but we found a good number of pub/ale house like places to eat as well. There were some folks about but in true Argentinean fashion, not many were eating. We ended up picking El Palenque because they were noted for a nice wine list.
We both had nice pasta dishes but the real star ended up being the wines. We focused on the Malbec section and were disappointed to find no wine by the glass. Disappointment evaporated pretty quickly when we realized that the bottle prices ranged from $2.50 to $20.00 USD. Yes, that’s correct, the most expensive bottle of malbec on the entire menu was $20.00 USD. We ended up picking a very nice organic label called Animal from Natura Vineyard. It was just under $12USD. Clearly, they are focused on the local market and they have not made too many adjustments for their currency issues – great news for us! And, even better, they had no issue with us taking the bottle home with us, meaning we didn’t have to drink the whole bottle while we were there. I know many of our friends (particularly those Aussie ones) would have no trouble drinking a bottle in one sitting but we are out of practice so I am not sure we could make it home if we drank the whole bottle in one sitting!
Today we headed for a shopping mall. Nancy wanted to get some new face cream, Clinique, a brand that you can only seem to get in the big cities, at the fancier shops. We had success with the cream, but had no luck finding our other two items – a new charger for our camera battery and a power plug adapter for Chile. We’ve been a couple Argentinean malls and discovered that it is virtually impossible to find any place to purchase a digital camera. No cameras mean no battery chargers. As for the adapter, we’ll have more luck in Chile for sure.
While at the mall we went to another grocery store. We found the “spread” isle and looked for more peanut butter. There was none – and it was a big aisle, see below.
Tomorrow we are going for a hike. We are certainly getting plenty of exercise walking all over the city but there is supposed to be some nice views from a nearby hill called “Hill of Glory”. It actually rained a little today so we are not sure what to expect for tomorrow. Word is that you should do this walk on a sunny day so we’ll see. Check back for more peanut butter search updates and a report on the hike.