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Posts Tagged ‘wine’

DSCN2491Saturday I played tourist and went on a Niagara tour with BG Tours. It’s my first weekend off work since January and yes, I could have rented a vehicle or taken GO Transit or VIA Rail but this struck me as a good option for a day trip to the region.

One of our stops was a winery and we tasted both white and red wines. The winery also produces 80% of Ontario’s ice wines and both white and red ice wines were available for tasting, but at an additional cost. Harvesting and producing ice wines is a more precious/expensive process – an individual grape yields a single drop of wine, rather than the customary seven drops.

ImageImageWe had about 45 minutes of free time to walk around Niagara-on-the-Lake and grab something for lunch. My last visit was a number of years ago when I’d been a member of an outdoor club. We rented bikes and cycled to a couple of the wineries. I’ve also taken in theatre here. The town is home to the Shaw Festival. The newest attraction is a large outlet mall.DSCN2464

Niagara Falls! It must be 25+ years since I’ve been here. There are two water falls – Horseshoe and the American one and the view is better from the Canadian side. It was a very hot and humid day and I took my time strolling along the walkway and enjoying the view. Every once in a while I’d feel a refreshing spray of mist. Of course, if you take the Hornblower boat cruise (previously Maid of the Mist) you’ll be enjoying a geat deal more water spray.

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We had three hours of time in Niagara Falls. After I had my fill of the falls I walked up Clifton Hill. It’s the amusement themed street. If I were spending more time in the area I’d want to visit the butterfly conservatory and do some hiking. DSCN2510DSCN2511

 

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(Mid March 2009)

Mendoza has a population of about 112,000. The climate is arid and the pace of life seems a bit slower here. Many of the shops and restaurants shut down for the afternoon siesta. This is wine country although it’s not the main sector. Tourism in the area consists of wineries, obviously, a hot springs retreat, and various day trips to the High Andes. I stayed at the Alamo Hostal – great place!

I never cease to be amazed by mountains and the trip to the High Andes was another encounter with the astonishing majesty of these landscapes. I was dazzled by glaciers, snow-capped peaks, Mount Aconcagua – the highest summit in the Western hemisphere at 6960 metres -, and the soft warm colours and subtle hues which seemed in such contrast to this ruggedness. And, I saw another condor!

Aconcagua is a popular climbing destination and it does claim a number of lives each year.  An international climbers’ cemetery is located nearby. Zig-zag fashion, our bus ascended up Mount Santa Elena to the world’s highest Christ the Redeemer monument at the borderline between Argentina and Chile. It was placed there as a symbol of peace and unity. (Note: when at the top of a mountain don’t leave your jacket in the bus.) Another unusual site was Puente del Inca where a natural stone bridge and the ruins of a spa are stained from the sulphurous thermal springs.

Enjoying a glass of Malbec in Argentina, in the heart of the grape’s growing region, is one of those small slice-of-life moments that I’m truly thrilled to experience. Yerba maté, however, is the Argentine national drink. The leaves are placed into a gourd and the brewed tea is sipped with a bombilla, an elegant straw with a filter attached. Hot water machines for replenishing your thermos are popular at gas stations.

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(March 2009)

Salta is a great city with a population of approximately 465,000 people. It’s more popular than I realized and finding a place to stay was a bit of a challenge.

A fact I missed in my research is that the electrical outlets are not the same as everywhere else I’ve been. I wasn’t able to find the right adapter and had to purchase a new battery charger.  It’s kind of nice to do non-touristy things like go to hardware stores. I even used a supermarket – the first one I’ve seen since leaving Canada!

I stayed here for five or six days but could easily have spent more time in this area. The late summer weather is amazing and Salta’s proximity to the Quebrada de Cafayate make it a highly appealing place.

The Quebrada de Cafayate is a truly awesome part of the country. The colours, textures and forms of the landscape are a feast for the eyes. I am here on a day tour and as part of the tour we also visited Bodega Nanni, an organic winery.

The wine is not very aged and is somewhat light and “crisp” on the palette.  Still nice though. Argentina is famous for its beef and I had an amazing lunch here in Cafayate. It’s the first time I’ve eaten beef in a long time and will repeat the country’s cultural food experience.

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