Today started with a 4.30am wake up and dash to the Buenos AIres city airport for what would be my first solo flight for the trip and a very long delay. I flew to Mendoza separately to Rebecca and Rachael because of the conditions of my round the world fare. We parted at the departure gate to our respective planes which were both respectively delayed. The flight itself was very comfortable – I was in the emergency row to myself, leg room galore and another alforjore in my little lunch box!
The wait at the other end for my sisters was long enough to have me wondering if I was at the wrong airport until I saw a man with a sign with our names on it – if I was in the wrong place, so was he and we had the car! My sisters eventually arrived and we were chauffeured to another especially posh hotel – The Diplomatic. We barely had enough time to dump our bags and check out the brand of toiletries in the bathroom before we were met by our ever gracious host for the trip – Tom Egan (no relation) of Jed Wines (www.jedwines.com), supplier of fine wines and great times to Bodega (www.bodegatapas.com), Porteno (www.porteno.com.au) and affiliated family members.
We all squeezed into the back of the car of our driver and new friend – Dario – for a long and picturesque drive into the Uco Valley and an insight into Argentinean road rules, or lack thereof. The Andes sprawled out in front of us and loomed larger the closer we got to our destination. The Andes have always been on my list of things to see but prior to this day, I hadn’t given any consideration to the fact that I was actually going to see them on this trip so being up close and personal was all the more dramatic and stunning for that fact.
Just when I thought the scenery couldn’t get any more spectacular, we arrived at our destination – Benvenuto de la Serna (www.benvenutodelaserna.com) where we were welcomed with open arms and ushered through to a picture perfect field, complete with a babbling brook and a table under a walnut tree laid with glasses and so many bottles of wine. Our hosts for the afternoon, Inaki, Jose and Frederico talked us through a tasting of their range with the easy charm of old friends. Every time I turned to my right, I had to pinch myself at the sight of The Andes and then again to my left to these beautiful people in this scene straight from a too-good-to-be-true movie. We stayed longer than intended and missed our lunch appointment, so they arranged for food to be prepared and bought out as we passed the afternoon in the warmth of their company and the gentle Mendoza sun.
When time came to leave, we were genuinely sad to say goodbye but we did because we had more treats ahead. Tom and Dario dropped us back at our hotel to freshen up for dinner at 1884 (www.1884restaurante.com.ar) which may actually have been even more sumptuous and exclusive than anything we’d experienced in Buenos Aires. Our co-host for the night was local entrepreneur, Ezekial, who by strange coincidence is the nephew of Pedro, Consul General of Argentina in NSW who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years back when helping to organise a screening of an Argentinean film at NSW Parliament House.
We were delivered back to The Diplomatic, wined and dined within an inch of our lives to sleep, perchance to dream something half as enchanted as the day we’d just had!