Driving into Mendoza from the east, the Andes form an impressive backdrop to the city. Winter approaching, the crispness in the air, the blue skies overhead, added to that the border, fronteir, town feel of the place, Mendoza gives off a first impression of being in some place more akin to Central Asia, or perhaps western china. Added to that the much darker, more indigenous, complexion of the people, and the illusion is, if you squint your eyes, nearly complete.
Mendoza is wine country. Popular on the tourist trail, kids come here to taste the wines, cycling around the vineyards. The cost of wine tasting, as well as cooking classes, varies from the rock bottom to super fancy.
On the up, I finally had my first mate (mah-tey). Walking from the bus station to my hostel, a young woman was selling mate with tarts, from a cart. Mate is a tea-like concoction that's tremendously popular around Uruguay and the neighbouring procinces. People walk around with their cup of mate the whole day, a thermos under their arms.
The obligatory wine tour on a bike is a bit of a tourist trap. You're not cycling through the vineyards, but back and forth an important artery, with shops and a few winery showrooms on either side. The wine is good and very reasonably priced, but that's about it.