Not every day of sightseeing works

Posted by on April 22, 2011


When I changed the name of my blog to Sounds Good on Paper, I didn’t expect the very next thing we did would fall into this category.  But, wine tasting in San Juan became one of those things that sounded so good on paper.   Sometimes things sound good on paper, turn out differently and are even better than planned.

And sometimes they just suck.  Wine tasting in San Juan turned into one of the sucks days.

On Paper: rent car, drive through beautiful countryside to city of San Juan where we would wine taste lots of amazing wine.

Reality: Spent way too much money on a rental car. Spent 9 hours driving, 8 of which we were lost.  Got to one winery, tasted one wine.

First thing that went wrong was the car rental. We had reserved a nice, cheap but safe car online.  When we got to the office, all they had was a tiny, very unsafe no airbag cars.  There are eight car companies in Mendoza, there was only one rental car in all of Mendoza with air bags, and it was twice the price.

Eight rental agencies, only one car with airbags.

But, we paid and were off.   Second problem, we could not find our way out of Mendoza, even with our GPS.  Jeff drove through dodgy intersections around and around, while that damn GPS lady kept “recalculating.”

can't imagine why we would get lost

But, then we were on the open road, ready to explore the province of San Juan.  I will admit, this was pretty…for the first fifteen minutes. This one continuous mountain got a bit old  2 1/2 hours into the drive.

We finally got to San Juan and after spending another hour lost, we got to the first winery – Graffigna.   The winery tour took an hour.   Jeff got to stand in a room made out of a wine barrel.

Who knew this would be the highlight of the day.

Then it was finally time for a tasting.  The one malbec we tried was good. If we knew it would be the only tasting of the day, we would have asked for a refill.

drink it slow, it's all you're getting

Then it was off to Callia.  This was one of the main reasons we went to San Juan. We’ve been drinking and loving their wine since getting to Argentina. We called in advance, they had tours at 9, 10, 11, 12, 2, 3, 4.   It was 2:00, more than enough time to get there.

Tell that damn GPS woman to shut up.

We got a bit lost, and then drove in circles, then we found the correct road and it was closed off for repaving, then we drove around in more circles, and then we almost threw our GPS out the window. But, we finally made it there at 3:22.  A guard at the winery gate greeted us and we had this exchange in Spanish:

Guard: Sorry last tour was at 3:00pm.

Jeff: But, we called the last tour is supposed to be at 4:00.

Guard: Yes, but not today.

Jeff: But…is today a special day?

Guard: No, every day the tour is at 4:00. But not today.

Jeff: Can we come in and buy a glass of wine.

Guard: No.

Jeff: Can we come in and buy a bottle of wine?

Guard: No.

Jeff: Can we come in and just see the winery?

Guard: No.

Sheryl (yelling from the passenger seat): We just drove here from friggin Mendoza. Can you just let us in for a minute to try your damn wine?

Guard: No

Jeff: Can you tell us how to get to another winery?

Guard: No, it’s complicated.

Jeff: Can you tell us how to get back to town?

Guard: Go to your right, it’s faster but is complicated. Go to your left, it takes longer but is easy.

We took the long way. By the time we got into town all the rest of the wineries were closed.  That was OK through. We found a wine bar. We sat down, a waitress came over, told us they didn’t have wine by the glass. In fact, they didn’t even have a bottle of the wine advertised on the tables.

Remember Napa and Walla Walla where you can actually taste wine?

So then we just went to another restaurant sat down ordered a big bottle of wine and drank it.

Then I saw these great mannequins.

Does she have cat ears?

Why so sad little mannequin boy?

Have you ever seen a mannequin with worry lines on his forehead?

After walking around town for awhile it was time for the 2 1/2 hour drive home.  First we spent an hour getting lost on the way out of town. But then we drove the 2 1/2 hours without incident.  Back in Mendoza we stopped for gas. The only station open had a 30 minute long wait.

What is this the 1970's?

We left our apartment at 8:30am.  We arrived back at 11:30pm.   While we didn’t do much wine tasting. We did get in some good wine drinking. Although it wasn’t the day we had hoped for, I’ve decided every day of travel is good, even when it sort of sucks.