Planning this trip, it was suggested that I was heading to South America to search for the Holy Grail. But the question I often asked was, the Holy Grail of what? You see, it can mean many things to many people. We all have different wants and needs in life so one man's Holy Grail could be another man's............well, just about anything.
This got me thinking, how about searching for my personal Holy Grail in a number of categories? As I travelled through the great continent that is South America I knew that I would be seeing some amazing sights, be having some amazing food and maybe, just maybe, also having a few drinks, just to complement the food you understand!
So, with the trip slowly becoming just a memory, here are my thoughts on my Holy Grails.
Holy Grail of......food
Without doubt, Patagonian spit roasted lamb. I had this in a restaurant in Ushuaia, ordering from the menu, as opposed to the “all you can eat” offer that was slightly above my backpacker budget. Taken fresh from the open BBQ, a hunk of meat was hacked off and served up. And as I tasted it, it was divine. Heavenly. Words could not adequately describe the taste as the lamb, so tender it fell off the bone, slowly melted in my mouth. And as I finished, the waiter asked, nay insisted, that I have second helpings. Go on then, I don't want to be rude.
Holy Grail of......tourist sights
I could have gone for the obvious option, and it would have been here on merit, but the breathtaking sight that is Machu Picchu is a little too obvious. Instead, I am going for a place that I had never even heard of until I arrived in Argentina. The Glacier Perito Moreno is amazing. It is 3 miles wide and 19 miles long and is one of only 3 Patagonian glaciers that is actually growing. From the various viewing platforms in the National Park you get great views, which are at once peaceful and at the same time thunderous, as large chunks of ice regularly crash off the glacier as it continues to move.
Holy Grail of......wine
I hope there are no Chileans reading this, knowing the intense rivalry between the two very important wine growing countries, but Argentina just nicks it for me. The Carmenere grape grown in Casablanca, Chile is a very quaffable alternative but my vote goes to the Argentinian Malbec.
I had plenty of opportunity to sample a few Malbecs in my 7 weeks in Argentina, which included a cycling tour of the wineries in Mendoza, the home of Malbec. Bacchus Bike and Wine tours of Chacras, a 40 minute bus ride from downtown Mendoza. There are other bike tours of the various wineries of Mendoza but the others cater mostly to young backpackers and offer lower quality wines, focussing on getting the travellers inebriated. For me, it is all about the wine, and if you are going to drink only one, make it Malbec.
This post could have been so much longer, a top 5, a top 10, etc etc etc. And there are so many things that could have been included but I had to draw the line somewhere.
The things that have not made it into this top 3 include the beautiful women of South America, be they the flawless wonders of Argentina or the created, pneumatic beauties of Colombia; the friendliness of the Colombian people; and finally, the tackiness that is Hooters, that pervades picturesque cities such as Buenos Aries and Medellin. You understand that I only visited for research purposes, to benefit you guys, my readers.