Hi all, its Alex back again to describe our time in Mendoza. Unfortunately two days before the end of the last post, I dropped my camera and it eventually gave up and stopped working, this means all the photos from Mendoza are taken on our mobile phones. We replaced the camera in Santiago so will be back to better quality shots in the next post.
To get to Mendoza we took our first overnight bus from Tucuman, where we’d dropped off the rental car. This bus was a better experience than I’d expected as the seats were comfy and we were served surprisingly good food.
As we were boarding a familiar voice said ‘Hallo’ very loudly and we turned around to find the strange German guy we’d met in Salta and Tafí was also on the bus, what were the chances! Thankfully he wasn’t sitting near us so we got a little peace, but he did come up and chat a few times, he was a little obsessed with how much everything cost and what we were willing to spend on flights and buses etc.. Despite that, we slept fairly well for a bus journey but still arrived feeling tired, partly the journey and also because we hadn’t really stopped moving between places for a long time.
We found hostels in Mendoza were quite expensive so decided to stay a couple of nights in a nice hotel courtesy of Chris’s points. We spent the time planning our next move and generally chilling out, we even had the luxury of a sofa in our room to watch TV from!
After a couple of days out in the suburbs in the bubble of our smart hotel, we decided to move to a hostel and actually see Mendoza. Mora hostel was very nice, we’d had it recommended by Ellory, Jill and Adeline who had been staying there whilst we were in the hotel, we managed to catch them on their last night in Mendoza for some farewell wine and they even left us some tasty salad in the hostel fridge for our lunch! The hostel provided free wine every night, supposedly only between 8 and 9pm, but in practice all evening, a great way to meet people at the hostel!
We had a few more things to sort out so didn’t do much the first day, Chris prepared a video message for a colleague who was leaving and we made a few travel bookings. We had a wander around the town centre, finding it much more touristy after the countryside of northern Argentina. We ate at a couple of tourist spots as they at least had heard of vegetarian options! Mendoza was an ok place, nothing particularly special about the town itself, but great for access to the surrounding wine region.
We spent our last full day in the Maipu area, a bus ride out of town. You can pay a fair bit for a tour, but it was very easy to just get the local bus and then hire bikes to see everything at a fraction of the cost. We were recommended Mister Hugo’s bike hire, so on leaving the bus we made a beeline for the bike shop. Mr Hugo himself greeted us, and we were soon kitted out with two basic bikes. They weren’t up to much in terms of gears or suspension (or brakes for that matter), but we were assured that the area was so flat you didn’t need it. We set off, armed with a basic map and instructions to return by 6pm.
We decided to cycle in the opposite direction to the other tourists and soon found a small place called Tierra del Lobo. We went in and asked to taste the wines and discovered that it was actually a spirit distillery. Being just after midday we weren’t keen to drink too much, but he offered a tasting of 6 very small measures so we chose the ones we liked and had a taste. We met a couple who recommended a wine tour at the next vineyard which was starting shortly, so we headed off on the bikes again.
The vineyard was called Trapiche, they offered a very good tour where we learnt about wine production and got to taste a few different wines. They were all very tasty but also quite expensive so we just enjoyed the tasting without buying. Whilst we were on the tour we met a couple of Germans and ended up cycling with them as we all wanted to get some food. They were funny and we got on really well.
We were starting to get a little hungry so we all went for empanadas and sat chatting for a while, then we headed to the next vineyard. This was a longer cycle than our map indicated but a very smart vineyard called Tempus Alba, with tasting on a rooftop balcony. We were enjoying the sun and wine and suddenly realised it was almost six o clock, our bike return time. The people on the table next to us also had bikes from the same place so we all jumped on the bikes and raced back. We were welcomed back by Mr Hugo and he didn’t seem at all fussed about the timing, we were given free juice and a hug then he pointed out the return bus stop and off we went. The bus back seemed to go much quicker than on the way there, something to do with all that wine tasting I suppose!
That night we went for a nice meal at a tapas place a little off the tourist track. The food was very tasty and we had the restaurant to ourselves to start with. Despite turning up after 8pm this was only half an hour after opening time, and the locals didn’t start arriving until more like 9pm. We still hadn’t quite got into the Argentine routine!
We had a fairly early start the next day to get the bus to Santiago in Chile. We’d had a great time in Northern Argentina, met some lovely people and had enjoyed being back in a country which drinks wine! We knew it wasn’t a final goodbye to Argentina, our travel plans for the next few months involved going between Argentina and Chile on our way right down to the very south of the continent, but that’s all for other, much later, posts!
For the next post I’ll be back again to cover our time in Chile’s capital and the coastal city of Valparaiso.