Friday, May 28, 2010

Buenos Aires, back to Colonia, Uruguay and back to BA again...

I crossed from Colonia, Uruguay to Buenos Aires via the Buquebus ferry without my moto, which was securely parked across the water. I met back up with my buddy who I stayed with while in BA during February.

More of the usual BA events, wine, steak and more tom foolery with the boys at my favorite spot, Miranda.

But the next day I was informed by my buddy in Uruguay that I was given the wrong paper when I entered the the country only allowing me 90 days for storage for the moto. I was told be every official I asked if I could leave it for 1 year and was told yes. However, Arnaldo suggested that I come back to UY and either ride to another border (300 or 600km away) to get new papers, or beg a plead for new ones through the customs office in Colonia. Mind you, this is two days before my flight leaves for Brasil. So I try to get some information from the Argentine side, with no success leaving a not so cheap physical trip back across the water to Uruguay.

I arrive in Colonia around 10am and Arnaldo meets me shortly after. We go to the customs office looking for the boss. He casually strolls in 30 minutes later and Arnaldo does some talking. he says he will call the Rio Branco office (where I entered from Brasil) in a hour to see if they can fax us another paper giving me one year. So we kill some time...

Colonia is an absolutely stunning historical town dating back to 1680 when the Portuguese established a colony. The Spanish and Portuguese fought for control for the next 150 years.

After we met the boss in customs and he made his calls we learned that for NO apparent reason the border through which I entered does not issue one year temporary vehicle permits. FOR NO REASON. So latin. Oh and the closest border 150 km away was closed for no apparent reason. This meant that with the remaining 6 hours before my ferry left I had to either ride 300km to another border and get new papers and return back to catch my ferry. This MIGHT work, if absolutely everything goes according to plan. However, with the luck of things it didn't seem feasible. So I sent an email to my friend in BA asking him to ask his boss if I could store the bike in his apt. building garage. As last resort, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It was on, and I decided to cross back to Argentina with the bike and deal with whatever it cost to pay for parking in the garage, but hoping it would go unnoticed.

Back in BA after a crazy day it was time for Whiskey Wednesday and another visit to Miranda for some outstanding cuts of meat and vino tinto with the supper club.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ride Report #25: Bento Goncalves to Porto Alegre, Brasil to Minas, UY to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

I headed out of Bento Goncalves to meet my buddy, Eduardo, in a neighboring city after his business meeting. However, I received an early call telling me of car problems. So I set out to meet him and help however I could. But by the time I found him, the car had been loaded on truck, down the hill we went for Porto Alegre.

With a HUGE day coming I chose to stay in and get some rest at Ed's house. The next day I aimed to ride from Porto Alegre to the Uruguay border and as far down as I could.

I made it to the border after a few hundred KM of beautiful, lush countryside of cows, rolling hills and tranquil bodies of water.

I decided to stop in a town called Minas, UY as the sun was setting and I was getting tired. This quaint colonial town was a pleasant surprise! Narrow streets and colorful antique buildings. Everyone was out in the square for the afternoon mate drinking as I found my hotel. I am always intrigued by these very small, but beautiful town that seem so insulated yet full of character and true identity. I set out to get some dinner and a beer, but must have gone out too early because I was alone in the restaurant. I tried to hang in and stay up the check the local bar scene, considering it was Friday night, but after a long day of nearly 700 km my eyes were lead.

Leaving the next morning I past these most vivid flowers and snapped a few shots.

I met two of these guys in Mendoza a few months before and randomly saw them again at this gas station in Colonia del Sacramento, UY. They were heading across from Buenos Aires and heading north and eventually back to the US. They had a good trip other than the brutal attack they unfortunately received at a soccer game just days before in BA. Black eyes and broken ribs never a comfortable ride.

The Indian in my buddy's garage that was to share a space with my Vstrom.

When you finishing drinking mate, don't say "gracias" unless you do not care for anymore. It wont get passed to you again if you you do.

I was connected with a fellow moto rider in Colonia, UY just across the water from Buenos Aires, who offered to store my bike for a while. It was all a good plan, but I later found out I got the wrong papers when I entered into Uruguay...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Casa Valduga and Lidio Carraro Vinicolas, Bento Goncalves, Brasil

While in Rio I sent emails in an attempt to obtain some information on Brasilian wines. I received a reply from a very professional and helpful representative from Wines from Brasil. He helped to facilitate the process of deciding where to visit in my very short time in Bento Goncalves and to set up meetings. During my tour of Casa Valduga I was treated extremely well as the English speaking export manager educated me on the history of the family, it's role in the Brasilian wine industry as well as local culture. The same is true for my time with Lidio Carrero starting when I was picked up and driven to the vinicola (winery) to meet with the daughter of the wine maker for a tasting of their fantastic boutique wines.

Before the tour I was able to taste some of the typically southern Brasilian cuisine, which is heavily influenced by the local Italian immigrants. Starting with a Capaletti soup, some fresh greens, pastas and meats all being passed by servers moving around the dinning room.

The meal was finished with Sagu, a traditional desert from this area made with WINE, tapioca and sugar.

THE first bottle of wine produced by the Valduga family after they shifted from being solely a producer and seller of grapes to a proper vinicola.

The red stuff being bottled.

The largest cellar of delicious sparkling white wine in South America.

The sparkling white bottles ready for disgorging, after the second fermentation in which the crown cap is removed along with the yeast that has collected beneath the cap.

Time to put a cork in it.

Making sure there is no yeast floating around.

One of the owners likes to use vines to imprint in the ceiling leaving this design.

Popping a cork the old fashioned way, WITH A SWORD!

Casa Valduga is investing in their sparkling white wine program, which is understandable once you have a taste. The soil in this region is slightly more acidic which is more conducive for grapes to be used in the production of sparkling wine.


Lidio Carraro, a boutique vinicola run by the Carraro family, graciously opened its doors to me so I could meet with the Patricia Carraro as she explained the family's history and plans for the future. One of the most striking differences that I found was the choice to leave oak out of the equation. They are in the mindset that oak detracts from the "true expression" of the grape. There is also a strong emphasis on research in soil types and location of the vineyards. I found many of the varietals a pleasant surprise and with an unopened Tempranillo and a Tannat in my bag I am anxiously awaiting the discovery of yet two more of Carraro's fine wines.