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Friday, August 19, 2011

Mendoza es muy lindo

While in Patagonia (freezing our bums off) we had to decide in which city to immerse ourselves in the lovely language of Spanish. Of course, the city we chose was all about the lodging and we found a charming bed and breakfast called Plaza Italia located in the wine city of Mendoza, Argentina (cheap delicious wine helped in our decision as well). However, being on a budget and all, we were not in the position to shell out close to $100 dollars a night on lodging, but we wanted to stay at the bed and breakfast reallllyyyyy badly... Ah yes, we caved and decided a couple nights with the Plaza Italia folks would be a nice little splurge. Well, two nights turned into over two weeks...

A bit of an aside here - although it seems that Jason and I have been enjoying the good life by sleeping in late, eating amazing food, snowboarding (ha!), and drinking a bit of wine, we have also learned a few new tricks including - if someone offers you something take it. Such as: "why yes, we would love a free ride to the airport" or "we would love the rest of your homemade steaming hot bread" or "of course you can do our laundry." Normally we would hem and haw and say "oh no. we do not want to inconvenience you in the least."Now we have learned to graciously accept offers that make our lives easier. 

Other lessons include learning to be incredibly flexible (not in the yoga sense, although we have been stretching quite a bit!). I mean like when our bus was cancelled and we were stuck in Chile, or when we rented a car to go snowboarding for the weekend, but without snow chains got stuck 5 km from the base of the ski resort, or even when we order food off a menu and something completely different than what we our ordered arrives.

We have also learned to throw shame out the window. I mean negotiating price is now something we are not afraid of approaching. It is because of this that our little splurge turned into thirteen additional nights at the lovely Plaza Italia. I initially emailed them and asked if they would give us a discounted rate for staying over two weeks and they agreed, but it was still much higher than what we felt comfortable paying.  So when we arrived I asked to compromise in the middle of our budget and their discount. They agreed!!!! Woohoo!!!!! Thirteen nights at a sweet place with pretty decent breakfast - awesome!

Now that we had a great place to sleep, but needed to find a great place to study. We ended up taking two weeks of immersion Spanish courses through Intercultural.  Taking immersion Spanish courses was my main goal of the trip. I have always wanted to learn a second language and thought immersion was the way to do it. The classes were great and we learned more Spanish in two weeks than in two levels of classes in Chicago. That being said, we have a whole lot of reviewing and memorizing to do. Especially since speaking and understanding others speak is difficult for us, but we can read fairly well which is helpful while traveling. 

The lodging was killer, but we like to eat right? Everyday after classes commenced, we stopped by a vegetarian buffet. The tiny storefront crammed in plates of cold and warm veggie dishes such as warm lentil salad, beets, empanadas, squash pie, spinach pizza, salads, eggs, and all sorts of goodies for the taking. The restaurant was a take away place so they weighed our food and off we went to the park to eat it. A HUGE vegetarian lunch would cost only $10 for the both of us - score!

Dinner was a different story and sometimes we just ate cereal in bed while watching an episode of Weeds or Burn Notice. Other times we explored restaurants in the city. One of favorite places is called Florentino Cafe. The hipster server, pleasant atmosphere, and interesting food were just what we needed when Argentine Parrilla became old. The wine was amazing and we were able to indulge in dishes such as arugula olive oil thin crust pizza, savory Malbec beef pot pie, chicken cooked with dijon mustard, Steak with black pudding, or Trout served with a medley of spring peas, brussel sprouts and peppery greens. Not to mention the soul soothing home-made bread. Oh the bread! The whole wheat must have had a healthy dose of honey in it and the foccacia was laced with slaty olives. All of this with a cleansing bottle of agua con gas and a smooth glass of regional Malbec. Yes, we enjoyed Florentino Cafe immensely.

Spanish has ended and we departed from Mendoza a couple days ago, but we will always remember our routine there and the neat people we met through our classes and at our B and B.


Jen Singh said...

ahhh yes, flexibility is the theme here! In the states, it's so easy to be inflexible because there are so many ways to fix things by complaining, attacking with insults and sueing people. How nice for the mind and soul to throw it all to the wind. Good for you guys!

on a side note, JT would have had a giant FIT and we would have had a fight if I pushed to renegotiate the hotel's price when we arrived!! heheheh

L. and J. said...

You are leading a good life. Also seeing a life-style that is different then ours again. Learning new ways. And how to cope with things beyond your control. Pretty good!!

Nicolette Jurgens-Tamminga said...

Jen - It is weird negotiating with small inn owners because they are trying to eek by and make a living. However, after a few crap bathrooms, I had no shame!

And yes, Grandma and grandpa it is neat and eye opening to view different life-styles. I very much enjoy that part of travel.