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Travel Diary: Uruguay and Argentina

Our first Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey of 2022 led Members through the cultural and culinary delights of two South American countries.


Ah Uruguay, Uruguay! After traveling around the globe, the Members arrived at the shores of José Ignacio. We kicked off the adventure at the tranquil beach with cocktails in hand and the sun setting in the distance. It was a lovely start to the eight-day Journey ahead of us. 


The first full day in Uruguay began with a hike through the beautiful countryside in search of shy capybaras while listening to stories about the area from our guide, Paola. The leisurely hike ended at a slow and lazy river where kayaks awaited to take us upstream to our remote country lunch. No one seemed to mind getting a little wet as we paddled our way towards Anastasio Lagoon for an exclusive lunch featuring the catch of the day and local Albariño white wine. We returned to the hotel afterward to freshen up for the evening. 

Some may ask, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I cannot answer that question, but I can say it will detour a group of riders on horseback! Little did we know the adventure in store as we saddled up in the afternoon sunlight. We began our ride alongside a lagoon with the sun playing peek-a-boo with the overcast clouds above. The ride was slow and steady until the fallen tree forced our hand and hoof to take an alternate route. We eventually found our way to the beach where waves were telling their secrets to the sandy shores. We, unfortunately, missed the sunset due to the detour, but some Members were truly excited by the thrill of the experience, nonetheless. In the evening our bellies were filled, and bottles were emptied at the Uruguayan asado served fireside under the Milky Way. 

Kayak-paddling en route to lunch
Saddled up just in time for the afternoon sunlight


Due to the threat of rain, we pivoted from our plan for a country bike ride to a rare, exclusive private tour of the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation — a non-profit founded in the spirit of promoting creative pursuits including visual arts, literature, music, and dance — lead by none other than Pablo Atchugarry himself. I don't think any of us will forget Pablo and his talent, graciousness, and generosity. The Members were able to enter his private studio to see his works in progress and tour the museum before opening hours. Pablo even walked us through his vast sculpture garden he had spent years curating. His works of art and tranquil countenance made the surprise visit that much more memorable. 

We followed the art-filled morning with lunch and wine tasting at Bodega Garzon. The Members were truly impressed with the young winery, its thoughtful construction, and the Albariño itself. We then enjoyed lunch at the Francis Mallman-ran restaurant. Our day concluded with a wonderful dinner at La Huella in José Ignacio, a sandy beach restaurant frequented by denizens and international tourists alike. Under dim lighting and the flow of wine, the Members now had much to talk about — particularly the surprises this tiny country had to offer. 

By morning we were all packed up and ready to continue our Journey to new lands — the city of Buenos Aires! 


Everyone loved the change of tempo as we entered the vibrant city life of Buenos Aires! After lunch at the Four Seasons, we hit the streets for a short walking tour of the famous Recoleta Cemetery and the surrounding neighborhood. The day was capped by dinner on the terrace at Fervor where our group had their first taste of Argentine steak, but it was the beef ravioli that stole the show. After an evening of cocktails, wine, and conversation, the Members left in jovial spirits and retired to their rooms to rest.  


The following day was a guided city excursion through the highlights of Bueno Aires. With a beautiful breeze keeping us cool, we worked up an appetite and enjoyed lunch in San Telmo, the city’s oldest neighborhood. The lunch was made extra special by surprising Member Kathy G. with a birthday cake to celebrate her special day! 
With full bellies and smiles, we walked a bit more to an unmarked door and entered a tango dance hall where the group tried out the traditional dance — which seemed to improve after a couple of beverage breaks.


What can be said about Mendoza? It leaves one breathless and pensive with its vast horizons of vines that seemingly run into the Andes. The colors of the sunrises and sunsets and dominant presence of the mountains makes it truly an awe-inspiring place in this world. The long trip to The Vines Resort was worth it for the grand welcome the Members received. Malbec rosé in hand, they were escorted to a light lunch.  

After checking in we visited two nearby wineries that offered two totally different experiences: the first provided a wine tasting followed by a wine blending game. We had four teams, and each blended their own wine, created a label, and were challenged to a blind taste test to determine a winner. Next, we visited a small winery for sunset. We took a moment to enjoy the light leaving the sky, accompanied by white wine and acoustic guitar. It was a much-needed pause in the fast-paced trip. We ate a private dinner at the winery before departing under the light of the stars.  

Wine tasting ready
A tasting and light brunch set up for Members in Mendoza


The following day was likely the favorite part of the trip for everyone — the Andean ranch day. Trucks navigated us up the dirt roads to the high elevation ranch where it set in that we were IN the Andes! Some Members broke off to go hiking with guides, while others rode horses to the ridgeline for breathtaking views. All the while, Gauchos prepared meats and sausages for our creekside lunch, where wine flowed. Later that evening, the Members tried their hands at making empanadas. Today’s experiences truly captured the essence of “Once-in-a-Lifetime."

Gauchos preparing a delicious lunch
Breathtaking views along the ridgeline


After a mid-morning wine tasting, many Members opted to order delicious local wines to be shipped back home. Our last lunch was held at Lagarde, outside on the edge of the vineyard — the perfect spot for a wine-paired meal. After an incredible lunch, we returned to The Vines to rest before the grand finale dinner at Siete Fuegos. The dinner featured foods cooked solely by fire, hot coals, and ashes. By the end of the night, hugs and handshakes were passed around in preparation for the following day’s departures.

From beginning to end, it was a wonderful Journey with an excellent group of Members and their guests. We opened our eyes to new places and things, and no one left hungry. As they say in South America, panzallena, corazóncontento! Full belly, happy heart.

Photos courtesy of Member, Annette Bradbury.