Tag Archives: mendoza

Mendoza

Imagine yourself at a table in Mendoza city. Food is terrific and tasty. The dishes in front of your nose are a myriad of delights: regional cheeses; salmon, trout; baked beef served with chimichurri sauce; locro, a dish of maize, beans, and pig’s feet; fried empanadas; tomatican, cherry tomatoes cooked with spring onions and eggs; Figassa butter bread; carne a la olla, meat and white wine stew in an iron pot; and spicy humita en chala sauce.

All of these tasty and hearty dishes are served with the finest wine of the province. Home to two-thirds of Argentina’s entire wine production, Mendoza has steadily been climbing the ranks of the finest wine regions of the world. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, these vineyards cultivate acres of Criolla Grande, Cereza, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay. These vines arrived with the Spaniards and share a common ancestry with the grapes in Chile and Peru.

The city of Mendoza herself has no end to sights and attractions. Explore one of the many parks, Mendoza Museum of Modern Art, the beautiful Plaza Espana. Just 14 km of town is the historic 1890 Casa de Fader, once home to the famous artist Fernando Fader. The heart of Mendoza is easy to navigate; you can walk or take one of the many affordable taxis around town. Stay at a downtown hotel for easy access, near the Plaza Independencia, a fantastic four blocks teeming with hustle and bustle. Wander down the nearby Sarmiento road, plop down at a café, watch the locals meander by while you sip on 6-peso-espresso.

Like all wine regions, the Mendoza province is best sampled in a private car—which gives you the flexibility and freedom to visit winery after winery. Keep in mind to book ahead well in advance, perhaps even with a professional—many wineries prefer if you arrive on a tour. For the best convenience and bang for your buck, you can fly from Buenos Aires and book a guided tour that will show you around. Wineries are still establishing themselves as an industry in Argentina, so your vineyard tours will likely be informal but with plenty of tastings. Many businesses don’t have the infrastructure or roads to handle too many tourists yet, so it’s best to organize a tour beforehand with a travel agent. Just remember: don’t drink and drive!

Want to sample the best of Mendoza’s Malbecs? Speak with our agents at Willamette Intl Travel for more information and suggestions for your Argentine itinerary. Call us at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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My favorite recipe for chimichurri

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

8 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 lemon wedge (juice of)

1 tablespoon diced red onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

1.       Pulse parsley in processor to chop.
2.      Add remaining ingredients and blend.
3.      Separate sauce into equal parts.
4.      Use half for basting or marinade, and half for table service.

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Filed under Argentina, South America, Travel by Taste

Argentina – Adventures

Argentina is a vast country that has much to offer, if you are a resourceful traveler. From towering peaks and rolling vineyards to frosty sailings, there seems to be no end to the adventures to be had. Here are some terrific opportunities that you may consider on your Argentina trip. The best part is—you don’t need to be an expert or an Olympic athlete to take advantage of the natural beauty and fun activities all across the country!

photo by Miguel Vieira

Take a Catamaran along the Beagle Channel

Take a catamaran tour from Ushuaia through the Beagle Channel. Experience the frozen beauty of the southernmost tip of the Americas, and glimpse a world of wildlife and glaciers. Float by small islands and coastal scenery, and keep your eyes peeled for seals, sea lions, and coastal birds. Admire the photo opportunities of Bird Island and Seal Island, before making your way over to the 74-foot Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.

photo by Phillip Capper

Ride up to the Andes

Experience the best of the Andes along part of the Pan-American Highway. Walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin for some incredible vistas! A well-qualified guide will take you to the panoramas circling the highest mountain of the Americas—Aconcagua. Stop at various cultural sites along the way including Puente del Inca rock bridge and Las Cuevas. Chat with the locals in the high alpine villages of Potrerillos and Uspallata, and scan the archaeological remains at Picheuta.

Paraglide over Mendoza

In Mendoza and had your satisfying fill of Argentine wine? Clear your head and pump up your adrenaline with a paragliding excursion! With spectacular, unforgettable views of the city and the surrounding Andes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Jump off the summit of Cerro Arco with an expert and let yourself soar like an eagle!

photo by Alex Proimos

Socialize with Gauchos

Experience Argentine culture at its heart—with local gauchos (cowboys). You’ll ride through the plans to a ranch and be welcomed by a reception at a pub with—what else?—empanadas and wine. Indulge in some traditional, succulent BBQ with locally brewed maté.

Enjoy the history of Santa Susana town and its museum and church, go on a horse-drawn carriage ride or horseback ride. During lunch, enjoy the lively tango and folk show, then the boleadoras, a performance of throwing weapons used by gauchos. Engage in the cowboy spirit while watching typical gaucho games of the ring race, animal herding, and the cuadreras race (a 400-meter horse race).

Ride a boat across the Rio de la Plata

Take a ferry from the Rio de la Plata into Uruguay. Enjoy a walking tour of the city of Colonia del Sacramento, a historic Uruguayan town just minutes away from Buenos Aires. Discover UNESCO World-Heritage architecture and enjoy a delicious lunch at your leisure. Wander around the historic quarter and take in the Portuguese-influenced city gate, drawbridge, lighthouse, basilica, and convent ruins.

photo by flopisubmarina

River Raft in Mendoza

Hop aboard with your fellow passengers and expert guide, and start paddling! Our preferred vendors offer a day rafting in Mendoza! Create a memorable excursion that will take you through the countryside of Mendoza to the town of Cordillerano de Potrerillos. With a professional guide, participate in this sport guaranteed to get your heart pumping, and learn to navigate level 3 and 4 rapids. Take home some unforgettable memories of racing through the Argentine torrent!

Teo Romera

Admire the Fuegian Lakes

Don’t have time for a full-length tour of Patagonia? Opt for a full-day tour to Lake Escondido and Lake Fagnano and uncover the stunning mountains and valleys of Patagonia. With a local guide and roundtrip transportation included, embark on a wild journey into the heart of the Fuegian region. Cross the rustic Garibaldi Pass, admire the curve of the gorgeous Andes, and delve into the local immigrant history. Your trip will conclude in Las Cotorras Valley, where you’ll indulge in a traditional lamb barbecue!

Willamette Intl Travel can arrange these trips and more well before your trip begins! Ask us about more opportunities abroad. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

 

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Guide to Argentina: Buenos Aires

The capital of Argentina is composed of a series of central barrios (neighborhoods). From the business district of the Centre to the wild tango clubs of Palermo, Buenos Aires has something for everyone.

Take an Empanada-Making class. Professional, local chefs will teach you all you need to know about the classic Argentine empanada. Afterward, pair the fruits of your labor with succulent Malbec wine, juicy steak, sweet biscuits and mate. Whether you’re an expert hobbyist or a novice, local chefs and guides with delight you with their local knowledge of cuisine and customs.

photo by Jameson Fink

Go on a food-themed walking tour or a pub crawl. Meet the friendly locals in popular, hip neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta or Palermo. Led by an expert guide, you’ll be introduced to the best the culinary world has to offer. For a daring traveler, we recommend black pudding, liver, and sweetbreads.

photo by Pablo Dodda

Sample the drinks. Meet a local sommelier at a wine bar, and learn all there is to know about Argentina’s famous wines from Mendoza. Sample wine that has been carefully paired with tapas—crackers, cold cuts, cheese, and nuts. For a drink, sample the ingenious cocktails and browse through the 3,000 list of Argentinean reds and whites.

photo by Sergio Aguirre

Head to the Temaiken Zoo. Spend a day trip to the zoo just outside Buenos Aires. See animals from all over—sharks, white tigers, hippos, tapirs, alligators, penguins and more. Go on a Tuesday, when tickets are 50% off. Check out the Interpretive Centers, where audiovisual presentations educate the visitor on biology, the ecosystem, and the importance of nurturing the environment.

Lose yourself among the Dead. Take a sobering trip to the labyrinth of tombs and mausoleums of Cementario de la Recoleta. This is a necropolis of the good, bad and beautiful—from presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the granddaughter of Napoleon, and others. Pay homage to Eva Peron’s grave, then head to her collection of costumes, jewelry, and paintings on exhibit at the Museum Evita.

photo by Chimpanz APe

Learn to Tango. You know you want to, and where else but the birthplace of the dance? Spend an evening at a Milongas, or tango club, and admire the masters from afar or join in with the novices. Combine a tango show with delicious cuisine at the beautiful Palazzo Rossini. To see the cream of the crop, try the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso. To delve more into the history, visit the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, which celebrates tango’s first superstar.

photo by Gustavo Brazzalle

Sip at a Café. Café in Buenos Aires is nothing like watery American coffee—it’s thick, rich espresso. Nibble on a succulent medialuna (Argentinian croissant) while you dive into the liquidated warmth of freshly roasted beans. Delve into the countless pastries served here, from biscuits, cakes, ice cream, crepes, bonbons, flan—and the king of them all, the dulce de leche.

photo by Phillip Capper

Have a Picnic. Buenos Aires is a city of parks and picnics. Head over to the Reserve Ecological Constanera Sur and chow down on your lunch while enjoying the skittering iguanas, 200 species of birds and that oddest of fauna, the jogger. Moonlight tours can be booked ahead of time.

Marvel at Masters—Old and New. Head over to the art exhibits and galleries of Recoleta and Malba. Take a tour through the Coleccion Constantini, which boasts impressive pieces from Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Tarsila do Amaral. Fashionistas might discover funky boutiques in Palermo Viego. For the antiques collector, your best bet is hunting for relics in the bric-a-bracs of San Telmo and its main street, the Calle Defensa.

Willamette International Travel can arrange some of these experiences beforehand, and connect you with locals who live and breathe the city of Buenos Aires. Ask us about Marisa, our dedicated, personable tour guide whose vast knowledge and love of her city have charmed many of our clients.

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Filed under Argentina, Itinerary, South America

Welcome to a Month of… Argentina!

For the next few weeks, the Willamette International Blog will be focusing on one of our favorite countries in South America: Argentina. Much more than just a country of gauchos, beef, nostalgic sophistication, and wine country, Argentina is currently enjoying a booming tourist industry while keeping its cultural identity first and foremost. For this reason, many travelers are turning their attention to the nation of tango for a unique and treasured delight.

Today, let’s look at some of the highlights of a trip to Argentina:

Trek Patagonia. There are numerous trips that trek around the gorgeous mountain range of Patagonia. Trek through the Torres del Paine, the French Valley, the W trek, and the stunning, cracking Perito Moreno Glacier. Want to embark on a 2-week camping trip? Or do you prefer to stay in hotels between legs? Our vendors will accommodate you depending on your preferences and style of travel.

Visit Iguassu Falls. As mentioned in a previous post, Iguassu Falls is a stunning experience not to be missed on your trip to Argentina. Behold one of the fantastic natural wonders of the world. Ride on a speedboat across the falls from below and climb up to the hilltops to gaze on them from above.

Watch Live Tango.  Head over to the bohemian district of San Telmo in Buenos Aires to watch some local tango. Enjoy some fine Mendoza wine from a table of a milonga, or tango salon. Events are nightly, professionals and amateurs alike join in a social ritual that frames the Argentinian heritage. The experience is moving, dynamic, and enhanting—and is a great authentic highlight. If you’re brave, there are ample opportunities to join in or take lessons.

Pilgrimage to Gaiman. One of the few surviving Welsh colonies, Gaiman is a bubble of Welsh culture and history along the Chubut River. Drink tea with the descendants, walk around Welsh-style houses, and peek into the Museo Historico Regional and at its bilingual documents (Welsh-Spanish).

Visit the End of the World. Conclude your amazing trip to Argentina in Ushuaia, the tip of the world. Trek through the cold, dramatic beauty of Tierra del Fuego National Park. Enjoy the rugged glacier peaks and the colorful port town that once was a missionary outpost and then a prison.

Ride a Funicular in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a charming, picturesque town by the sea. Wander through the labyrinthine streets, enjoy the pastel colors of the houses, and visit Pablo Neruda’s home.

Cruise to Chile. Cruise down the Chilean fjords with one of our tours. You can go for the day or spend more time in the rainforest and mountain beauties of Chile. Pass languidly by fishing settlements and amazing glaciers.

Glimpse Penguins in Punta Tumbo. Witness thousands of penguins on the beaches. Visit during nesting season to see the eggs hatch all over the place into tiny fluffy heads!

Horseback Ride in Salta. Head over to Salta, a bit off the beaten track. Visit the Canoa de Quebrada for the unusual rock formations and try red wine ice cream at Cafayate. This region is also famous for its pink sand, cacti, and a white wine called Torrontes.

Travel the Wine Roads of Mendoza.  Drive through the rustic roads of Mendoza and visit wineries. Nearly 80 wineries offer formal tours and tastings.

Ride a Train through the Clouds. The Tren a las Nubes will take you 434 km (269 mi) through tunnels, turns, bridges, and a viaduct. Cross the multicolored Lerma valley through the deep canyons of the Quebrada del Toro and the desert plateau of La Puna.

Several of our Agents have traveled and loved Argentina. Call us at 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com for more details.

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Filed under Argentina, Features, South America

Travel Tips: Bringing Home Wines from your Vacation

You’re outside on the porch of a charming tapas restaurant in La Rioja, enjoying the aromas and sultry flavors of the best tempranillo you’ve ever had. There’s a faint air of melancholy over your head—you will be returning home in tomorrow, and mourn your last drops as they gradually trickle down your throat. If only you could ship bottles home without hassle! Many a traveler has had this very dilemma—but despair not. Willamette Intl Travel offers some tips to avoid weighing your suitcase down or breaking those precious bottles.

–          Pack well: To avoid the risk of breakage, stuff your bottles in a sock and store in a water-tight plastic bag. Smothering with clothes will protect it from shifting during the flight. Make sure the outer shell of the luggage is hard—no duffel bags.

–          Share with your friends: If you have traveling companions, talk them into dividing the bottles among you—but beware! Don’t give your wine away to a fellow oenophile, or you may never get it back!

–          Weigh the bottle: A bottle typically weighs three pounds, so consider this when you are sticking them in your already overstuffed suitcase. There’s also the price: if you bring more than 1 liter, customs tend to require payment of 3% in duty tax.

–          Invest in a wine suitcase: For the frequent traveler/oenophile, consider buying a wine suitcase with a stainless steel shell that protects and withstands extreme temperatures. This can be a considerable investment though, so think before you buy.

–          Check the distributor list: Maybe, just maybe, that perfect blend you found in Mendoza ships to the USA. Do the research, and you won’t have to do the hauling.

–          Avoid wineskins: These containers have some benefits–and might be a great protective container for land travel–but the downside is that they are not resealable. WIT Agent Nancy has had the repetitive experience of wineskins being opened by the TSA and resealed with duct tape! “At least they didn’t drink the wine,” she says dolefully. “There has not been a time this hasn’t happened.”

–          Ship it: laws governing wine shipment differ state by state, but it’s definitely worth it if yours does. Some wineries will even waive shipping charges.

–          DO NOT attempt to stick it in your carry-on: Since 2001, TSA safety regulations prohibit liquids larger than 3.4 oz past airport security checkpoints (unless purchased in duty-free stories beyond). They’ll just confiscate your bottles, and you’ll have to say goodbye then and there!


Good Luck and A Votre Santé!


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Filed under Travel by Taste, Travel Tips