Part 1: Wine, food and more wine
13.05.2008 - 17.05.2008 24 °C
After we finally managed to pull ourselves away from the magical Cool Raul hostel in Rosario, we boarded a luxury bus to Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. Dave Blainey had now joined us with a load of fruit for the 24 hour bus journey. The bus was fully equipped to entertain us for the long trip, huge reclinable chairs, hot meals, a selection of The Rock's best movies and bingo! That’s right, bleedin’ bingo on a bus! We were given little slips of paper with a bunch of numbers. Then the bus conductor began pulling numbers from a little bingo machine and reading them allowed, in Spanish. This really tested our newly acquired Spanish skills as most of us couldn't even count past 10 or so.
We arrived the next day in a sunny Mendoza. We managed to avoid all the awaiting taxi drivers who would have loved to rip us off. There were an abundance of hostels to choose from but we couldn't overlook the words “Point” and “Break” since we still hadn't found a copy of the Keanu Reeves epic Point Break. The hostel was called Break Point and it was totally overpriced but if any hostel in Mendoza was going to have a copy of Point Break, this was the one. It didn't.
A hard day's work
Endless grape vines
After settling in we headed out to "Bikes and Wines" to start our tour of the wineries. Our cycle took us through fields and fields of vines which were all destined to end up as fine bottles of Malbec. There were wine museums, wine cellars and huge buildings with endless corridors of massive barrels. Of course, there was also plenty of sampling to do. We were even taught how to sample the wines... although we did have a tendency to forget to spit the wines out after tasting them.
Dublin’s O’Connell Street Bridge is wider than it is longer and therefore known as a “choad”.
There was also a place that produced a range of spirits too. That’s when things started to become a little blurry. The owner used to produce whiskey, rum and absinthe as a hobby for 18 years before turning his "hobby" into a business. So we simply had to try some of the absinthe before getting back on the bikes. It was disgusting. When we got back on the bikes Tilly had noticed that his bike felt a little different... but not because he was locked, but it was actually missing a pedal! We found out that some toss pot had stolen Tilly's bike and left his broken one for Tilly to ride. Some of you might remember that Tilly is a member of the all male bike group The Cobras. He quickly informed the other members who he happened to be rolling with. The Cobras had to react with vigour and stealth.
We could only presume that the thief would have cycled to the next winery and that’s exactly what he did. After identifying Tilly's bike we needed a plan. We wanted to go into the winery and get even drunker but we also needed to get the bike back. After a quick impression of Horatio from CSI: Miami we scoped out the area and found a load of crates stacked 6 feet high. We decided to hide our bikes behind the crates and swap Tilly's bike with the original. Then after downing a couple of glasses of fine wine we left the winery to find that the culprit had been out smarted by The Cobras. We rode out in glory and celebrated the retrieval of Tilly's bike by visiting yet another winery.
Home made absinthe
It smelt as good as it tasted
The next winery, where they produce Tempus Alba, was by far the finest. This modern facility looked more like a space aged science laboratory than a vineyard. There was also some really hot chicks both working and drinking out on the sun drenched patio. But the highlight was the room which looked like the facility level of Goldeneye on the N64, where Trevelyan (played by Sean Bean) is "killed" after Bond blows up the remote mines a little earlier than expected.
After visiting the last winery we had the long cycle home to contend with. So we made an executive decision to buy a bottle of wine and a cork screw and cycled home while handing the bottle between each other. I'd say the founder of the vineyard would be turning in his grave if he saw us swilling the wine straight from the bottle. Dave even managed to lob the bottle to Jack as they were cycling down the road.
Facility level of Goldeneye on the N64
Enjoying drinks at Tempus Alba
The long cycle home
Dave necking a bottle of wine
I lost my John Deere hat only days before this
When we arrived back at the hostel we met a couple of Irish girls and shared a few more bottles of wine. Then Conor began to tell the greatest story ever told. As we all chatted we started talking about the river Liffey which triggered something inside Conor's head. He delved deep into his memory and recalled his most life changing experience. Before the tale had left his lips he must have known that this tale would surely change how all of us would see the world. Some say that this legendary story explains the meaning of life... I'll let you decide...
"...yea, when I was at French college I went swimming in the Liffey and eh... the next day... I didn't"
You might have to read it a couple times to truly understand the meaning. Conor's ability to describe whole cultures and the feeling of a nation at a certain point in time can be quite overwhelming. Don't let this intimidate you, it’s a god given talent that he has and we, as mere tenants of this beautiful world, should embrace these words. We were just blown away by the yarn he had just told, Jack even feel to his knees with emotion. From that point onwards our journey totally transformed as we now saw the world in a different light. God bless you Conor, God bless you.
We frequented the restaurant next to the hostel nearly every night and by the time we left we had sampled everything on the menu. They had this strange little dish called a steak pizza, which was a pizza that’s base was a steak instead of pizza dough. We also had the pleasure of having the beautiful Connie as our waitress every night, who found our attempts at Spanish very amusing. The only phrase we had truly mastered was thank you, to which Connie would reply "De naaaada" in a playful fashion. She also knew that after a steak dinner we were divels for a peach daiquiri.
Derek, Connie and another one of the waitresses
Conor & Jack
The lads and Dave
Trina and Tilly
This was taken at about 6am
We hit quite a few night clubs in Mendoza and even saw some live music by mistake. Every place you went to would give you huge glasses of vodka with no room for your mixer, which is a complaint that I don’t mind making. We met a couple of people we knew from Buenos Aires, Trina & Dave who were delighted to see us wearing our Irish style tuxedo t-shirts. We were happily dancing the night away until Dave Blainey jumped up on a glass table and went straight through it. Then some other Irish fellow picked up Conor and dropped him on his head. Other than that, it was a great night. In a strange turn of events Tilly had arrived back at the room first and went straight in to the bathroom. Derek arrived minutes later only to hear a strange buzzing noise from the bathroom. He was intrigued and cautiously approached the bathroom door only to here the buzz become loader and more violent. The door was unlocked so Derek crept in to see the source of the eerie sound. He found a very surprised Ian looking like he had never done before!
... to be continued
"Well we are averaging 3 bottles of wine a day, each" - Tilly working out a little maths at lunch.
“3 every half hour? Thats like one every 8 minutes or so” – For once Derek’s maths lets him down.
“I feckin’ love this ad” – Conor, as he watches an ad for Cif.
“One thing I’ve always wanted to do is blow glass” – Conor, as we discuss how our careers might pan out.
“I can’t remember the last time I had a beer... oh yeah, last night” – Conor, just after waking up in the hostel.
“They love their military dictators down here. Ye know with the economy goin arse ways in Ireland, I bet ye Willy O’Dea is planning some sort of military coup... and he’d have my support!” – Jack and Ian brainstorming
Next time on The Lads Go Around The World...
What was Tilly up to?
The lads go horse riding
18 year old girls
Ireland Vs England
and find out if the lads finally find a copy of Point Break!
Buy the Willy O’Dea t-shirt at...
Apologies for all the mistakes in the last blog and thanks to all who pointed them out. I was far too hungover to proof read it at the time, but I've done my best to make sure that this post is mistake frree.