Grapes in Texas

In France, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Australia, California, Oregon, and South Africa we visited wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards this year, so, when we saw that we were in Texas in time for the Grapevine Grapefest, we knew we could not miss it.  Boy is an expert on grapes, now, and the event promised a free kids activity area.

  

To avoid the 90+ F/ 35+ C temperature, we got there in the morning when the gates opened.  We enjoyed the festival music and food, playing some games of skill to win a few prizes before trying any wine.  The event featured areas spotlighting Oregon wines, Argentinian wines, and USA sparking wines from various regions.  The main area, however, was the Texas producers.  We wandered through the festival and sampled a variety of Texas wines.  Many were very sweet, as Texas wines traditionally have been, but some winemakers have been experimenting with Spanish varietals to make a dryer wine.  After our year of vineyard experiences, we decided Texas wines were not our favorite, but we still found a glass to enjoy with lunch.

Mendoza, Argentina

The overnight bus delivered us from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Surprisingly comfortable, the bus seats were wide, and fully reclined, very much like a first class airline seat. Along the way, the bus staff conducted a bingo game with a bottle of wine as a prize. Bingo was a game we could play! All we needed to do was to listen to Spanish numbers, something we could all do, though we struggled a bit consistently hearing the difference between sixty and seventy. We didn’t win, but it did pass a few minutes of the ride.

A friend from home, set us up with her recently retired, father who was spending the summer in Mendoza. He showed us around the city and introduced us to alfajores, chocolate covered sandwich cookies, quite a treat.

As another world wine region, this was a not to miss stop for Dad, so we were quickly out of town, among the vineyards, with plans to visit three separate wineries. Boy enjoyed several bunches of Malbec grapes as we toured the area, but preferred playing with the vinyard cat. Lunch at a traditional Argentinian grill included wine, and lots of meat!

Back in the city of Mendoza, we checked out some local parks and playgrounds and strolled through the feria, or market, at Plaza Indepencia during our stay.

Another day saw us out with the locals on summer holiday at the nearby hot springs of Cachueta. The hot springs pools are attached to a water park with a lazy river and a few slides, so lots of families packed the place. Adults enjoyed the thermal baths, while kids ran through the play areas. We heard there was a nearby spa as well, which is less crowded and more relaxing, but the water park was more our speed this time around. Many brought picnics and BBQs, but we enjoyed another asado from the small parilla grill onsite.

Our Spanish study books this week:

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The wineries

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Not Barefoot in Buenos Aires

Walking was tough. The sidewalks in Buenos Aires were uneven, with occasional spots of missing concrete, and large, deep holes. We saw several pedestrians fall, when they stopped looking at their feet, and we each tripped a few times as well. Once we mastered the art of looking ahead at the ground, instead of watching our destination, our safety record improved.

In an old building, across from a theatre, our apartment had a view of the Obelisk, the zero mile marker for the city. We enjoyed being right in the heart of the city, along the world’s widest street Avenida 9 de Julio, but the blackout curtains were a necessity, as lighted billboards and theatre lights illuminated the room 24 hours a day.

Our first, full, day in Buenos Aires, the rain poured down. Revising our plans to indoors, we met up with another traveling family at a local shopping center with a large children’s play area and arcade. The boys played while the adults enjoyed coffees. Once the skies lightened, a short subway ride took us towards what is billed as one of the world’s most beautiful book stores. El Ateñeo is a 1915 theatre, the Grand Splendid, turned book store. The stage is a cafe, the viewing boxes are reading areas, and the rest of the building is overflowing with books. A fine wrap up to our rainy day.

Sunshine returned the rest of our week, along with the summer temperatures. We cooled off with a stroll along the river and a visit to the Armada Argentina training ship, the Frigate Presidente Sarmiento. This 1800s tall-masted ship was used until the 1960s to train new Navy recruits. It is now a museum, anchored along the river bank. Lunch in the historic Cafe Tortoni fortified us for more walking. Plaza de Mayo is the historic core of the city, built in 1580. The more modern cathedral, on the square, was, until recently, home to the cardinal who became Pope Francis.

We couldn’t miss checking out the tango while in Argentina, so we booked in for a dinner show. Boy was playing along with the music, enjoying the rhythms, if not the dancing. Another night took us to the San Telmo neighborhood, where we enjoyed traditional grilled meat at La Brigada, a parilla restaurant decorated top to bottom with soccer jerseys.

At Recoleta, we stopped by the old cemetery and, also, paid a visit to the Evita monument at the Plaza de Eva Peron. The nearby Basillica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, built in 1732, had a small but lovely museum in the cloisters, with artifacts from the early days of the church. Windows looked out onto the above ground tombs and monuments of the Recoleta Cemetary.

Our final Buenos Aires day, a walk through Parque Centenario led us to Museo Argentino Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia. The museum hosts an impressive collection of South American dinosaur fossils, some of which have been found nowhere else on earth. The 19th century building has intriguing details, like bat shaped column capitals, and metal spider webs on entry doors. Though the exhibits look a bit dated, the entry fee was well worth the US $3 cost.

Our schoolwork this week has been heavily focused on Spanish, a most practical skill the next few months, and review, as we finish our math and language arts workbooks. We also spent a bit of time learning to program computer code, starting with beginner lessons on “Daisy the Dino” and moving on to programming challenges on “Hopscotch.”

El Ateñeo

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Nuestro Señora del Pilar at Recoleta

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Recoleta Cemetary

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Dinosaurs at Ciencias Naturales

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