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Argentina, February 2005

Part 1: The wedding

Part 2: Trip to the West

After a day of rest we picked up a car at the Córdoba airport and started West through the Sierra de Córdoba under rainy skies. This Sierra is not particularly high, but rather wild. We think we saw a condor, but can't be sure because it was very far and could have been a vulture, but I think I saw some white on its wings. Well, I like to think we saw one! We also saw a llama, the only one of our trip.

We spent the night in Nono, on the other side of the Sierra. It is a small touristy town where people come to escape the heat and bathe in the rivers. After that the road is pretty much straight for several hundred kilometers to Mendoza. The landscape is completely flat and dry, with small prickly bushes reminiscent of Arizona.

Mendoza is a bustling town, but not particularly pretty, having suffered a lot from earthquakes and having been rebuilt without much architectural interest. We stayed near the center where we found quite a few good, very inexpensive restaurants. We spent a day visiting vineyards. We first went to Bodega Giol, an old winery that has an interesting little museum with all sorts of things related to wine and wine making. It was the beginning of the harvest and we watched the trucks bringing the grapes to be pressed. The whole winery was full of the smell of fermenting grapes. Next to the casks where the wine is aging, the owner of the winery has racks with part of his private collection. It was hard to see what he had without pulling the bottles out, but some of it looked pretty interesting. The setting of the winery was very pretty too, with flowering bushes, some rather unusual. Out back some old olive trees stood guard by the cabernet vines.

Our next stop was the Bodega Viña El Cerno, a very small and unpretentious place that does everything almost by hand and produces excellent wines. After lunch we went to the Senetiner winery, which is in a beautiful setting. The vines, like these Syrah grapes, are grown with meticulous care and the wines are great. Last year they won a Mendoza Malbec competition.

Next: To the mountains