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Going South w/ Avianca and a little bit of Rouge

Going South w/ Avianca and a little bit of Rouge

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Old Jun 26, 17, 8:32 pm
  #16  
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I didn't want to take so long to update since the last time, but things have been nutty for me. Sadly things haven't let up. Anyways... here's another update (finally!)

So after about 2 hours on the ferry I’d arrived to the port of Buenos Aires.
After a long walk around the terminal, you just pick up your luggage, scan it in security (not sure why places even bother with this since it’s just checked. Do they not trust each other? You don't see this in North America and Europe... )

Luckily the hotel was a fairly quick walk so didn’t bother with the taxi.
However there is so much construction around (vote buying according to one of the tour guides) that it is a bit of a pain to get around.
Anyways, the Holiday Inn, was pretty much just a points run since I needed to have my yearly stay to keep what little points I have and didn’t want to let them expire.
Just for a plain and simple room. It was ok.





No complaints about the room. It is pretty small though, but works.



It’s not exactly quiet though due to all the construction and street noise, but at night it wasn’t all that bad. The construction stops at night so it’s not like you hear a drill hammer at 3am.

Anyways, since the hotel is a bit closer to San Telmo, I decided to explore that end of the city so off I went.


Love the 2nd French Empire architecture






Look I’m in Dublin!


Let sleeping dogs lie..


I walked around a bit and came across this chain called “Winery” with decent priced wines. Of course the large majority is Argentinan wines. If you’re looking for German Riesling, Barossa Valley Shiraz or a South African Pinotage this is the wrong place…



Anyways, after wandering around, trying to get my bearings (and pizza), I actually ended up near the Obelisk (don’t see what this has to do with Argentina, let alone Latin America, but maybe Argentina and Egypt had a war that no one else knows about?






Anyways after that it was time to head back.

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Sep 4, 17 at 10:39 am
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Old Dec 19, 17, 2:59 pm
  #17  
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Cool

Sorry for the delay, but with the whole photobucket killing all the photos , then me having work (insurance) exams and them having to prep for my sommelier exam, this sort of fell aside.And I did pass


Anyways, Buenos Aires Day 2.After the first day of being in the Holiday Inn (needed points to keep my account going), I then moved to the Sheraton Libertador. I was going to take the bus, but the day prior I had actually walked to where it was and figured I could do it easily enough.So off I went luggage and all. Took me just under 15mins. Luckily I wasn’t hauling around more than a bottle of wine, so no biggie.Anyways, here is the room. Right across from the train/bus terminal that I would be taking to Mendonza on Friday. How’s the room and the view? Here it is.




Daytime







Nighttime






Not too shabby and the room is pretty big.I did some more walking around but didn’t actually do a tour. I had wanted to go to a wine bar later in the evening, but when trying to buy the subway pass, I got the gouged tourist pricing. Not wanting to play that “game”, I decided to pass and instead just stay in the hotel and read for an upcoming workinsurance exam. Anyways, I pretty much just wandered around Recoleta.

While it’s nice and I get the attraction, I can’t say I’m massive fan. I was planning on doing a tour the next day though so didn’t really plan to do too much since I wanted to avoid back tracking.While I did take photos, and walked around a mall, near the mall, I swear I walked by the guy that plays Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones. He looked like he was on holiday and had a tour guide. I did a double take, but he walked into a church (I’d walked out about 30 seconds earlier) and didn’t want to go double check ala creeper to see if it was him. While I did wait around outside for about 2-3mins after, I felt it was a bit stalkerish to keep waiting. I guess I’ll never know! Anyways, some photos of my afternoon. The next day was pretty much a write off since it was a holiday. Also the weather was crappy and the tour was cancelled. Yay. I also wasn’t feeling 100%, so decided to take it easy. Still a waste of a day all in all. So now onto my last day in BA.

Here are a few random photos I took around of BA

The tomb of Jose de San Martin. Liberator of the Southern South American Colonies from the Spanish.


Neat buliding





Don't mess with her





Coin Op elevator...


Dragons are real


...?! The story is that it was a gift from Canada. Seems a bit out of place though... ah well...






Mafalda


Yes you can pose. Yes I did. No I'm not uploading that photo.


Since the tour I’d wanted to do wasn’t done the day prior, I spent my last real day doing both tours. AM was the traditional area (and a bit of San Telmo) and the PM was around Recoleta.
While I did walk around San Telmo on my 1st day, this time we skirted it. Some photos of the free tour in the AM.

I did think it was a lady eating a hamburger from far away originally...





As close as I got to Iguazu Falls. They have a mini version in BA.


Pink House

All in all, I would recommend either of the free tours (Buenos Aires Free Walking Tour - BAFreeTour). Both guides were witty and came across as genuine honest. They didn’t try to sugarcoat things by trying to say that BA was some type of Utopia. They were upfront about the government, but did stop just short of giving their choice of political party except to say that “changes are needed”. No pictures of the afternoon tour. Nothing worthwhile photowise, really. One thing both guides were pretty open about the Falkland Islands war.
Interesting to hear the Argentine perspective (I majored in Spanish Studies in university and although our profs tried to be neutral about it, they were slightly biased and in favour of the British, as am I) however the reality is that if the residents are to remain part of the UK, let them vote on it, which happened recently.
What business does Argentina have to say otherwise? The latter is my opinion. In any case, it wasn’t my place (or time) to get political.

The tours are based on tips/pay what you can.

Anyways, I had to get back to the hotel to check out as I was leaving that evening for Mendoza on the sleeper bus. It’s a double decker bus.
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Old Dec 19, 17, 3:12 pm
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So as I said, it was time to leave Buenos Aires and move on to Mendoza. No plane this time. It's onwards via double decker bus.You get food (dinner and breakfast/snack), wine and there’s wine bingo. Lol
I think there was a movie, but I just wanted to sleep. There was wifi but it was sporadic at best. Some photos of the bus seating.



Meal #1



Meal/Snack #2



Wine Bingo

No, I didn't win.

I didn't have any time since they were only serving colds reds (...?!) and a room temperature white chardonnay which was pretty bad. I needed a detox of sorts anyways I suppose.

Overall it was pretty good and straightforward. I’d put the bus right between economy and premier economy. Why I went for it, is because the price of the flight from BA to Mendoza was almost as much as flight to Western Europe from YYZ for me. Seemed insane to pay that much. Also there were plenty of positive reviews online of the bus. Anyways, after arriving early in the morning, it was a short walk to the hotel (another Sheraton, but this time Sheraton Mendoza) to drop off my stuff, check in (it was available luckily) before taking the bus to explore the Mendoza (Maipu) wine region.

Finally this main the real reason I’d come to South America. To learn about wines and use it for preparation for my (then) upcoming sommelier certification exam.

Last edited by iceblueshoes; Dec 19, 17 at 3:45 pm
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Old Dec 28, 17, 9:11 pm
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So finally, I had arrived in Mendoza. While the bus was comfy enough and I did manage to get some sleep a 20-30min nap wasn’t going to hurt.The walk from the bus terminal to the hotel was under 10mins and fairly straight forward. You can actually see the hotel from the bus terminal.Luckily my room was ready when I arrived and I was able to check in, so after quick nap and shower, it was off to visit the sub- appellation of Maipu.
But first, what’s the room look like? Well here it is.

Welcome!










Not too shabby. Not as “fancy pants” as the Buenos Aires Sheraton room but being able to see the mountains is a lot nicer.So it was off to take the local bus to get to Maipu and rent a bike to get around.The bus ride itself was about 25mins long (luckily no transfers) each way.

I did have the hotel call ahead to reserve a bike for me. Waste of a day and time otherwise.
Also there’s a bus pass called red card that lets you ride around for less. I had planned to use it a bit more but ya, only used it to and from Maipu. After a quick 2-3min walk I had arrived to Mr.Hugo’s Bikes to rent the bike. After paying for the bike rental and getting a map and a few suggestions of where to go it was off to explore. And yes I got the helmet. Not that it would’ve made much difference with the terrible drivers there.

My first stop was to visit Trapiche to see if I could stop by for a tasting (wasn’t too keen on the tour) since it was closest. Along the way you see canals for the water runoff from the Andes. Oddly enough I didn't actually take any photos of this. Often the wineries get water from here for irrigation (although generally not needed in this area) but the crap (garbage) you see in the canals is pretty gross. Sure, the more stress a vine is in, the better the wine, but I’m sure there has to be a limit.
Anyways onwards…So I get to Trapiche and I’m told by the guard at the front gate that I have to do a tour (as they don’t have a tasting bar) or eat at the restaurant but he had no menu or idea of the pricing within him. Unfortunately the next tour was in an hour and there wasn’t much nearby and he couldn’t let me in quite yet. Seeing that Trapiche is a big winery, I thought, it would be a decent tour. Unfortunately, I have never been more wrong in my life, but hindsight is 20/20.



Oh, if I'd only known what was to come...

I tried killing time, cycling around, but not really able to get too far or visit anything else nearby because a lot of wineries were closed or hadn’t started their tours yet. It was a bit chilly and the ONE day I had forgotten my gloves back at the hotel… FML… At least I had my toque and sunglasses though…
Anyways, it was finally time to do the Trapiche tour. The front gate guard let me in a bit early and I had a chance to look around the wine shop (with no tasting) and it was actually really nice, modern and well kept. Also had wifi and a bathroom. After looking around for about 20mins, the tour started.
The tour attendant talked about the history of the property and boasted (we’ll come back to this in a bit) about how she had 15yrs experience with the wine industry but had been at Trapiche just under a year and that she liked it and how they had wines ranging from price and palate for just about anyone.



Looks niceTo start we were given a sparkling wine (Chardonnay based if I remember correctly) but was not overly complex. In fact, I’ve had better prosecco’s at weddings but at least this tasting was dry.Onwards we continue through and the next wine was an unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon.

Attendant: “… this is a fresh, young wine that we bottle pretty close after the fermentation is complete in order to keep the fruit tasting characteristics.
”Me: “This is very fresh and full of bright red fruit. It reminds me of a Gamay due to some licorice and fresh candied fruit notes. Does this go through a semi-carbonic maceration by chance?"
”Tour Attendant: “What’s Gamay?
”Me: “…”


(said bottle...)

And the tour continued… the other people on the tour were students on exchange and the wines to them were amazing (Oh to be a noob again…)When we got to the 3rd wine, the tour attendant couldn’t pull the cork. She’d somehow put it through a weird angle, so what does she do? Gives me the bottle to fix. Lol

As we got onto the final wine and stop, I asked if they had other wines to try out and that I was more than willing to pay for it. She said no, that they only pour the wines on the tour and nothing else but that I would have to pay for the bottle and try out at home if I wanted. Thanks but no thanks…And the final nail in the coffin with this tour, a family from Atlantic Canada walked in to the final tasting area by mistake looking to buy wines. My thought is that they were given wrong directions somehow (the restaurant is 4m at most from the wine shop) but when the asked the wine attendant where to buy wines (it was obvious they were in the wrong place) she told them they had to do the tour at full price. The man was saying, I don’t want to do the tour, I just want to buy some wines to take home, but the tour attendant was adamant that they had to do the tour. Of course he refused and said they would leave and ask elsewhere.

While she left to get the last wine of our tour, I was able to speak with him and he commented that it seemed like certain businesses didn’t want any business, yet complained about not being able to sell. He was working for a Canadian company and had been there a few months and said that some wineries were more closed off than others for some reason but he didn’t understand why. After a few minutes, they left and I had my last wine.

So, all in all, how would I sum up Trapiche? As a complete waste of time. The tour attendant was on a script (and possibly a speed run record) and while it’s understandable to not know everything about a wine or specifics about the process EVERY other wine tour I’ve been on, has gotten the same response when asking a question the tour attendant doesn’t know : I’m not sure, but let me find out for you/get back to you in a bit.

The pours are also incredibly weak (not that I was planning to get drunk and the wines were mid-range at best) and cheap. I couldn’t get out of there soon enough. Trapiche doesn’t seem to care, is inflexible and almost wants you to NOT want to buy their wines.





I actually wrote a review on tripadvisor and got the usual canned “sorry, we’ll try better next time and hope to see you again soon, etc.reply. On my way out though, I did see the Canadian family who looked relived to have their wines.




(Wine shop and restaurant)




So after leaving, it was onwards to another winery. Looking at the map that I was given by Mr. Hugo, I went for one of the wineries near the far point since there was a cluster of wineries together. I actually did try to visit a winery that was down the street from Trapiche (forget the name but cool looking label) but I wasn’t really in the mood to pay $50 for something I had no info about. Tasting only was also not an option.


The only wine that was passable/decent.

Others I would say are wedding wine.Well, as I’m sure many of you are aware, Latin America has a problem with a lot of strays. On the main road where I was trying to get to, there were about 4 strays not letting me get past. Not wanting to get rabies or eaten I had to wait until another guy walking by shoo’d the dogs away. While I did encounter more strays elsewhere, it’s a lot easier to get away when the bike is in motion.
Finally after a 30+ minute whit knuckle bike ride, I finally had made it to Viña el Cerno and ran into a group of 8 other travellers (including a few Canadians) and we all split a few bottles. Made for sharing some good travel stories and they were also travelling solo and had met up at other areas throughout Argentina. Losing track of time, I almost forgot about visiting Tempus Alba (across the street) and rushed over but they were closing in 5mins and didn’t have anything open to pour. Darn, but the winery itself looks amazing. Maybe one day I’ll even get a chance to try out some of their wines.



From Viña el Cerno, the Syrah especially stood out. The Cab and Malbec were also very good. I didn’t pick up any bottles though since I have weight limits and duty as well when bringing back wines back into the country.

By this point, it was getting close to having to return the bikes to Mr. Hugo so off I went. I did run into the other travellers so at least I didn’t have to bike back alone which helped for the dogs.


Mr. Hugo was great though. If you’re going to do a bike tour, definitely rent from him.

Anyways, the bike road back with the other travellers was good and while they did invite me out (they had no idea where they were going though) I decided to stay in and just eat at the hotel.



Interesting artwork in the landing by my room.


The restaurant itself. Super dead. Only 3 servers were working.


Amuse bouche

My main was a penna pasta (sorry no photo, but I'm sure you all know what it looks like) but it was pretty good. I decided just to go with water as I wasn’t seeing anything on the wine list that grabbed me.Luckily they have a patio to take photos of the surrounding area which I did. Only one came out decent though.



Anyways, after supper, I studied a bit and went to sleep. The next day was to visit the Uco Valley with the Bus Vitivincola
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Old Jan 1, 18, 1:06 pm
  #20  
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After much needed rest (although I was still sore from all the biking on the prior day) it was off to get to serious wines into the Uco Valley with Bus Vitivinicola (BUS VITIVINÍCOLA)It’s more or less a hop on/hop off bus that takes you around to various wineries. The winery schedule varies according to the day and there are both full and half day buses, except on Sundays. As a solo traveller, it’s very expensive to get around when you don’t have anyone to split with or able to write it off due to not working in the industry. Also what makes things (cost) worst/higher are that when it comes to tours (not just exclusive to Argentina) are that tours are usually targeted towards noobs (people who just want drink a lot of wine and don’t care if it’s entry level/crappy wines) or the higher end luxury markets for ballers. There is little in between. Hopefully being a certified sommelier will help going forward in the future.

Onwards though as there are 3 wineries to be visited. They are: Monteviejo, Salentein and Andeluna.

I'd only heard of Andeluna prior to this trip, but checking out websites and reviews of the wineries prior piqued my interest.As I mentioned before, different days, have different wineries, but it’s less on Sundays for the Uco Valley, but it’s also the furthest from the city of Mendoza.The bus itself was alright. There’s no pre-arranged seating so it’s fills up depending on where you are picked up as there are various pick up places throughout Mendoza.Along the way, the guide (if you will), does talk about the surrounding area (not just exclusive to wines), gives some instructions, but it’s not to the extent of a full tour where they go on the full time.
After about a 50min drive into the Uco Valley we arrived to the first winery: Bodega Monteviejo. Like the other wineries, the scenery is breathtaking. Nice crisp, cool mountain air, unlike Mendoza or Buenos Aires. Having said that, Mendoza’s air quality is no where near as bad as Beijing’s.

Monteviejo is more or less run by a travelling winemaker , Michel Roland for you wine geeks out there. This is a modern winery and throughout the tour they highlight how essentially no expense was spared. I did take photos of the winery, but didn't think anyone would want me to post the photos.








I love mountains.



The wines we were trying on the tour.



The mid-range (extra fee aka have to buy the bottle to try...)



The big daddy


Sadly I didn't get a chance to try it at the time, but I did get to try the Petit Fleur here at a tasting and it was pretty darn good. No regrets though in passing on it in Mendoza.





Cheers!





Nothing really stood out from this tour, but the view was great.The wines, MUCH better than Trapiche’s offerings and the higher end wines were available for purchase and tasting. However you only had to purchase the bottle to taste it, but ya… they were more accommodating than Trapiche and the staffed were MUCH better trained. I was able to talk with one of the assistant wine makers for a bit about the Argentinian wine industry, climate change and local wine making which was great.

After the tour and tasting it was off to Bodegas Salentein. This was about a 25-30min drive.Another nice and modern winery with some funky art.















This I decided to skip the tour and just go right to the tasting bar. As much as I enjoy learning about wines, the truth is most general public tours are more or less the same. At the winery I went right for the tasting bar. They actually had the info of the wines served and all were entry level. While it would have been neat to check out the art gallery that was part of the tour, it was time to get serious.


When I was at the tasting bar, the attendant and I got talking when she also mentioned that she too was also preparing for her certified sommelier exam. It was great to be able to try 3 of the higher end Malbecs (No Gran Vu sadly) in order to hammer down what a Malbec is should it appear on the blind tasting portion exam. Unfortunately, I had to pass on the other wines which would have been good to try such as the Shiraz and Pinot Noir.





This was incredible. So much I actually back a bottle back for myself and a colleague. I also preferred it over the single vineyard version.
I also brought back a bottle of the tier below the Primus (Numina), but have yet to open it. I'm aging the Primus though.

I didn't get to try out the Gran Vu sadly, (not available for sampling), but the price was up there in Napa Cab territory, so I decided to pass on it. I'm sure it's a good wine though.

I won’t get into tasting notes, but the Malbecs all had firm ripe fruit notes, with some earthiness ranging from subtle to pronounced depending on the wine. They were VERY generous with their pours, so much that I was pretty drunk by this point. Not stumbling, barely able to walk like Mr. Lahey from Trailer Park Boys, but enough to know that I needed water (badly) and food.

By the time I had finished sampling, taking my tasting notes and actually able to enjoy and savour the wines, I noticed people from the tour bus, were finishing the tours and going to get lunch. I tried the same and sat with some British travelers who were happy to sit with someone that spoke English... lol

While they did speak English on the tours, it was barely passable in most cases. This was the case for much of Argentina. Just an observation for unilingual speakers. It’s not as bad as Spain though. Not a big deal for me either way since I speak Spanish fluently.

Anyways, the restaurant was full and to say service was slow is an understatement. From what I could tell, there were many servers, but a lot were concerned with chatting amongst themselves rather than doing any actual work.

After being seated and waiting about 10mins to get a menu and then another almost 20mins for the server to take our orders, she comes back 15mins after that saying for the most part, the kitchen had run out of food on many items and even ran out of items they were using to sub with. ...?! She then tells us, it’ll be about 30-40mins wait time to get our food. Realizing that waiting will mean missing the bus and being stuck there, we cut our losses and waited for the bus to take us to Andeluna.

After a short wait, off we went to the final winery: Andeluna. While the drive there was only about 20mins, the lack of food and not much water was not helping matters. I did bring a small sandwich (was intended as a snack actually) and water with me but by that point I’d run out.

Andeluna, is nice but I was wine’d out. Their restaurant had also run out of food so there was no relief there. I decided to sit out this round of wines and just talked and sat with the British tourists. Neither of us did the tour. They did a flight and I did have a sip of a late harvest, and while it was decent, I'd rather go with a local producer which surprisingly costs less for the most part.


The restaurant at Andeluna (also didn't have any food)




Another drunk person on the tour got into a semi-racist rant about how Chileans were racist/bad people (He was Peruvian) etc. blah blah. Was so glad to get out of there.
Anyways, I slept back on the bus on the way back and grabbed a bite near the hotel and then called it a night. The next day it was off to continue my trip to Santiago for the final leg of the trip.

As for the bus itself? It was good. I'm glad I did it as it gave me a chance to get around. If you're in a budget (as in don't want to/able to get a private driver) this is certainly worth looking into. I would recommend it, but just be sure to look up the schedule prior as the wineries that are visited changes according to the day of the week.
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Old Jan 7, 18, 12:01 pm
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Final day in Mendoza and onwards to Santiago

The next day I woke up and felt like crap. Not from being hungover, but it felt like I had a flu bug of sorts. The only thing I can think of what it might’ve been was possibly trying the wine from the Brits. Damn.

Had I been able, I would have just stayed in all day to rest up, but I had to check out and kill time until it was time to head to the airport.

Sorry, no worthwhile pictures except this one of the fountain.


Nice place, but wish I wasn’t feeling like crap as I had wanted to go and visit a wine bar I read about earlier on.
Anyways, after killing time wandering around, it was time to go to the airport. From the hotel it was about a 25-30mins drive.
When we finally got to the airport, I noticed there was a vineyard out front…
After dropping off and checking my luggage in, it was time to kill about 2hrs before I could go through security.

Since I had so much time to kill, I took a walk back out to the parking lot to get a few closer pictures of the vineyard.

This feels so out of place





The airport is VERY small, but modern, although there’s not a whole lot to do here. There’s one restaurant and one café and a few tiny gift shops (not even any kiosks), but there is a seriously lack of seating landside. People were sitting around pretty much anywhere they could find free space.
I also don’t remember their being any wifi landside, but there was wifi past security near the gates, as well as more seats.





I wonder if he got that into the overhead bin?

Airside/past security






Waiting for the plane to arrive...The flight to Santiago is with Sky. Night and day price difference compared to Aerolineas Argentina.

The plane is pretty generic and I’m taking economy. Doesn’t seem to be much difference besides priority boarding and baggage allowances between other ticket classes.Not much to say about the flight. It was pretty uneventful, but it’s so short that it doesn’t matter much.
Sorry about the lack of photos.

Finally got to Santiago and upon arriving I took a mini bus shuttle to the hotel. The hotel will be the Sheraton Santiago Hotel and Convention Centre. Nice place.

The lobby entrance. The concierge and front desk are to the right.








Pool area








The room while small, is really nice and modern.







Sorry about the lack of a view photo, but there’s a hill behind and that’s it. You can watch some cable cars pass by, but there’s really nothing to see. While it wasn’t super noisy, there were dogs nearby that wouldn’t shut up…

Anyways, since this hotel isn’t really near anything, I just had a soup and ate it in main the lobby lounge before calling it a night.

My intent was that the next day I will be feeling better in order to get out and explore Santiago.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 4:04 am
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Thanks for the update. Interesting to see the detailed info on a number of the wineries. I note you drank a lot of reds but did you try any Torrontes, another grape synonymous with Argentina (though the best examples generally come from around Salta)? It's very distinctive and worth a try, I think. Shame about the lax service you experienced in so many places, which unfortunately seems to be fairly common in Argentina. I generally found service levels much higher in Chile and Uruguay than in Argentina.

Back to Uruguay for a moment, you described tannat as 'a grape that only a mother could love'. Why do you say that? Clearly you know a lot about wine, and each to their own, but I'd love to hear why you say that, and also whether there were any examples you did enjoy?
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Old Jan 14, 18, 12:28 am
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How many hours is the bus trip? Isn't it boring? Could you sleep?
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