Friday morning Fred transported us to the domestic airport for our flight to Mendoza. I cannot say enough about his service and downright kindness. We had booked Marcelo Villegas (http://www.mendozajourneys.com/) as our guide and driver and he met us at the airport and took us to The Villagio (very nice hotel). I am so glad we chose to stay there because it was just a perfect location for us, an easy walk to everywhere for dinner and shopping. The Park Hyatt and casino are less than a block away if you are interested in taking that in.
The next morning Marcelo picked us up at 9am and we began our day of touring Lujan de Cuyo. One concern I had was that one winery would be pretty much the same as the next, but the places Marcelo booked for us each offered something unique and special: Achaval Ferrer (award winning wines); Finca Decera (breathtaking architecture); Bodega Septima (delicious lunch outside enjoying the magnificence of the Andes); and Benegas Lynch (restored old adobe with stone underground casks/caves).
We spent Sunday relaxing in Mendoza, took a long walk to General San Martin Park, complete with a bus tour to the top of Cerro de la Gloria, and visited the Museum of Natural Sciences. The weather was so warm and perfect we even walked back to the hotel from the park. We had one of the best meals of our entire trip that night at Francesco Ristorante. Francesco’s, quite large with dining outdoors and inside, has an extensive menu, excellent service and homemade pasta as good as any I have ever eaten, including Italy. My mouth waters just thinking about it! I told our server how much we enjoyed the pasta and she asked if we would like to meet Maria Theresa who has been making the pasta for years. I THINK she is the owner, but cannot swear to it. What a treat to tell her (via our server) how delicious her food was.
Monday we ventured farther afield to the Valle de Uco. We toured stunningly beautiful Andeluna (owned by Donald Lay, as in Frito-Lay and designed by the same architect that did Finca de Cera); La Azul (small boutique winery and got to taste from the cask); and finally, O. Fournier (another splendid lunch looking at The Andes). We were the only people in Urban, their award-winning restaurant. The owner is from Spain and his wife was our chef, and we were able to meet her and talk to this gracious and lovely lady about her food. We were too full to eat dinner that night, so just grabbed some soup at a place near the hotel.
Marcelo took us to the airport the next morning and we began the next leg of our adventure to Estancia La Margarita. I’ll tell that story in Part 3.