Vines of Mendoza. Otherwise known as heaven

The Vines of Mendoza is a resort located about 1.5 hours north of Mendoza in Uco Valley. The resort sits on over 2000 acres of vineyards. Yes, 2000! I have never seen so many vineyards on one plot of land. 



This was another place I was able to experience with my parents and just be in absolute heaven. The restaurant Siete Fuegos is known for having a chef that loves to cook with fire 7 different ways. 

The resort itself has a fantastic pool and spa and invites you to just relax. 



We were lucky enough to recieve an upgrade into a two bedroom villa. We had a complimentary bottle of red wine, white wine and champagne along with water and beer and soda and snacks. Talk about perfection. 





We spent most the time relaxing but we did spend a day trying the wines at the three different bodegas (wineries) on the property. The first one is Corazon del Sol and was not even officially open. The wine is delectable and the winery has sister tasting rooms in St. Helen, California and Oregon. An absolute must try. 



After that we went to The Vines tasting room. Malbec. Malbec. Malbec! And ended at one of the owners of the resorts vineyards for lunch and more wine. 





House of Jasmines

I have been staying in hostels and more hostels and then more hostels. When my parents came to meet me, there were no more hostels. In Salta we stayed at this gem about 30 minutes outside of the City Center called House of Jasmines.

House of Jasmines was a house built by Robert Duvall and then bought and turned into a wonderful 14 room resort on over 200 acres. There are mountain bikes available to ride around the property and horses that roam freely. An amazing spread for breakfast with fresh fruit and juice and endless coffee. The pool is in a location that allows sun to be on it all day!

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We had a lovely suite and I had my own cute little bed and room.

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There was time for pool side relaxing, frolicking in the grass, strolling around the property and even making a miniature spa station in the bathroom.

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Overall, it was an amazing and relaxing 5 days and a perfect resting point for returning home after long day trips.

Cafayate for the day

Sometimes it is about the journey more than the destination. This is absolutely true for the trip to Cafayate from Salta. The drive is about 3-4 hours and takes you through an amazing section of the Andes. After the experience my parents had with our tour to Salinas Grandes, they opted to hire a driver just for the day. This isn’t exactly the budget backpacker way but an amazing way to stop and see exactly what you want to see and have a more personal experience.

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The Andes is the second youngest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas. It is the longest mountain range in the world and has a peak of 22,000 feet. This means that even though it’s summer, there is snow that can be seen in some spots.

Our driver stopped at some natural formations that have formed in the mountain including this amphitheater pictured below. There were musicians playing music and vendors selling their trinkets. It was an absolute natural wonder.

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The pictures do not do justice to show just how beautiful the landscape was. Endless mountain ranges with peaks and valleys everywhere. As we were driving we saw goats, llamas, horses, cows, pigs and parrots. It was a wildlife extravaganza.

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The main reason for the drive was to check out the little town of Cafayate and do a little wine tasting. We went to Piattelli and had a delicious lunch with breathtaking views and a fantastic bottle of Torrontes. Torrontes is a varietal of white wine from this region and is incredibly refreshing.

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Our wonderful tour guide then took us to a great wine store to buy some wine and then a little off the path bodega to try some Malbec and goat cheese. We ended up buying the cheese along with llama sausage from a local vendor, fresh baked bread from another local vendor and some olive oil from yet another local vendor. These were all gems that only a private tour can provide and really made the experience very special.

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A very long day tour of Salta

I love exploring places on my own and I try to avoid group tours. But the area surrounding Salta is huge and has a ton to see and renting a car was just not something I wanted to do. I booked a day tour through a company called Argentina4u. The description of the tour does a better job of describing what we saw than I would. The full day Salinas Grandes tour begins in Salta heading towards the pre-Inca site of the Tastil Ruins and then on to the small town of San Antonio de los Cobres, an incredibly beautiful high altitude Andean village, introducing you to the charming characteristics of the North of Argentina. You will continue on this full day Salinas Grandes tour along the scenic Route 40, crossing one of the driest areas in the whole of Argentina, eventually arriving in the Province of Jujuy and close to your Jujuy tour destination of Salinas Grandes. The Salinas Grandes tour then continues by travelling down the Lipán Cliff to Purmamarca, one of the typical towns of the Humahuaca Canyon (Quebrada de Humahuaca) with its unique Seven Colours Hill and beautifully quaint houses. The main reason for the tour was to see the salt flats at Salinas Grandes. The salt is huge rock salt and covers water and then land. It was a pretty cool place!

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IMG_3440 Mom decided to take some time to enjoy the view and play on the train tracks and of course we had to take a family selfie and capture the gorgeous mountains.
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The tour was about 13  hours because we covered over 500 kilometers of crazy terrain. At one point we were on a “road” that was just dirt and rock. Honestly, I have no idea how the van made it or how my parents put up with it. This is a tour meant for a traveler on a budget and not those on a nice vacation. There are options to hire private drivers that make for a smoother and more informative tour.

It takes two to Tango

Argentina is known for quite a few things and one of them is the Tango! Rather you are walking down Florida Street, browsing the Sunday Market in San Telmo, touring La Boca or seeing a show, Tango is everywhere.

We chose to have dinner and see a show at Cafe de Los Angelitos. Dinner was three course meal with bottomless wine. I think they liked to have the crowd a little liquored up to enjoy the show just a little more.

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The show was entertaining and about an hour long of various tango dances. My favorite was when two guys performed a tango routine together. I thought it gave us a little something different to look at.

The best meal I have eaten in Argentina

Part of traveling is eating and discovering new restaurants. On a backpackers budget, those restaurants aren’t always within reach. However, when your parents come to visit, it is time to get a little spoiled.

My step dad read about iLatina somewhere and had sent me the link a while back. I would have treated myself to an evening out but didn’t think this was a place to attend alone. I couldn’t convince anyone else to come with me for $100 dinner. When my parents met me in Buenos Aires, I cashed in on the chance to eat at this wonderful restaurant.

7+ courses paired with wine for 1180 pesos. And let me tell you the wine pours were not for the faint of heart. The food was amazing and incredibly creative and the wines were out of this world!

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White corn aniseed arepas with spicy avocado mousse and chicharron. Patacon with hogoa and goat cheese.

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Nixtamized, toasted corn tortilla with beef cheek, Oaxacan mole, and Mexcal-marinated red onions.

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Caramelized prawns with spicy pineapple and fennel.

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Barú style ceviche with seasonal fish, mango biche, and coconut.

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Peruvian seafood casserole with grilled octopus.

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Braised pork in Colombian coffee and sugarcane reduction.

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Ecuadorian cacao truffle with sea salt and olive oil.

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Avocado and Aguardiente ice cream.

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This was an amazing experience and I would recommend that anyone who is in Buenos Aires, needs to go to this restaurant!

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Uruguay for the day

I took my parents over to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay for the day from Buenos Aires. We booked through SeaCat Colonia because it is the same ferry as Buquebus for way less money. Apparently Buquebus bought SeaCat but still has both names.

Upon arriving to Colonia we looked at taking the hop on hop off bus tour but we were told you have to book it when you are in Buenos Aires…whatever. Luckily we spoke to someone in line that mentioned renting a golf cart to drive around which sounded like tons of fun. For $50 you get a golf cart for 6 hours! Needless to say, this was our transportation for the day.

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Colonia is very small and quiet but considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history shows the push and pull for the territory between the Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilians. In the end, no one won and Colonia became Uruguay.

We had a lovely day exploring and climbing lighthouses and overall just having fun.

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Pretending to be a local in São Paulo

São Paulo can be a very overwhelming place for a backpacker since it is the largest city in South America and the 9th largest city in the world. I met some people when I was volunteering at a hostel in Rome and instantly bonded with them. Lucky for me, they live in São Paulo.

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I spent my first few nights in a hostel but was kidnapped by one of my friends for a walking tour of the city. He had some other friends in town and thought it would be a fun day. We walked everywhere so that I could try to get a sense of what there was to actually see and do in this massive place. We opted for matching sunglasses to make out group cohesive. It was a long day but absolutely worth it.

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It was a few days after New Years Eve so the city was still very sleepy. However, it was a perfect way to see what there was for me to do in São Paulo.

I moved into my friend’s apartment for a few days and then switched to the other one for a few days. We cooked. We went out to eat. We went for drinks. We went out dancing. I did whatever they did on a normal night. I even helped one of them move. If that isn’t acting like a local then I don’t know what is.

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Paulista Avenue is a famous street to walk down in São Paulo. I jumped on the metro and headed to Paulista and more specifically, the São Paulo Museum of Art. The São Paulo Museum of Art is well known for its headquarters, a 1968 concrete and glass structure designed by Lina Bo Bardi, whose main body is supported by two lateral beams over a 74 metres (243 ft) freestanding space, considered a landmark of the city and a main symbol of modern Brazilian architecture.

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Of course, a large city is always going to have graffiti and São Paulo was no exception.

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It’s likely that as you are traveling through Brazil, you will end with a plane change or a layover in São Paulo. I would say it is a city worth stopping in for a day or two if you have the time.

Maresias vs Floripa

There are amazing beaches all along the coast of Brazil. Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world so you can imagine that spending a month in the country is not nearly enough to cover it. However, I went to two different beaches in two different states and enjoyed them both.

First I went to Maresias in the state of São Paulo. The beach is about 4 hours from the city of São Paulo and a destination for a lot of Brazilians. Almost no one spoke English and there was not another backpacker at my hostel. I loved every second of it!

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Next up was Florianopolis. This beach is in the state of Santa Catarina and very touristy. The town is much larger and great for night life and very different from Maresias. I personally enjoyed Maresias much more!

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My hostel in Floripa had flags from around the world and in that was a flag from California! I thought it was funny that the USA was being represented by just Cali. 🙂

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My hostel in Maresias had a bit of a sense of humor.

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Needless to say, I spent more than a few days in the sun.

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