Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
91Trip End Dec 20, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Our first destination on leaving Buenos Aires was Mendoza which is in west Argentina close to the Chilean Border. The city is famous for producing the majority of the countries wine so we set off looking forward to getting out of the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires and heading out to greener pastures. First though we had to get there.
Our bus was due to leave at 8:50pm. We arrived in plenty of time to the Retiro Bus Station (which is the biggest bus station I think I've ever been in. It's more like an international airport and stretches for literally miles - I'd say about 6 football pitches long) which was absolutely heaving with hundreds of people. We made our way to our zone to wait for our bus to come up on the board to tell us where to get on. They don't actually give you a platform you see - they give you a range of say 22-39 and your but could arrive at anyone. So we are waiting, and waiting and it's now 9 o'clock and still no bus. Now back home and in pretty much every other country that I have travelled in, if your bus is delayed they tend to let you know its delayed. But not in Buenos Aires. They only put the bus on the board once it has arrived, so we were standing around starting to panic that our bus wasn't coming until we realised how their system worked. The bus thankfully arrived and we were off by 10pm on our overnight journey to Mendoza.
Twelve hours later, on the best bus yet, we arrived in Mendoza. Now we were really looking forward to Mendoza, particuarly after reading some other folks blogs who said the place was amazing and their favourite city. Unfortunately for us, Mendoza can only be described as a bit of a "s!?thole" (please pardon the bad language). The City, which is more the size of a big town, was very run down, really dirty with rubbish pretty much everywhere, had more smog that Buenos Aires, and had these irrigation tunnels running along side the roads - not a pretty sight. The main attraction in town was a big plaza/park in the centre of the town, which basically looked like a drunken man's hangout. In summation, we were incredibly disappointed with the place. We later found a blog from another Scot who likened the place to visiting Clydebank (which actually I think is being a bit rough on Clydebank). Therefore, you will not see any pictures of Mendoza in this blog as they weren't worth taking really. But enough doom and gloom, as we did make sure to get out and about and see what the area had to offer.
Mr Hugo's Wine Tour:
The first thing on our agenda was to get out and taste some of the wine that the region is famous for. One of the best ways of doing this is by hiring a bike from the also famous Mr Hugo and to cycle around all of the vineyards. So on Tuesday we set off on the bus to Maipu (pronounced My-Poo, this makes us laugh - childish I know) where all the vineyards are situated. We hired our bikes from Mr Hugo for 30 pesos each, and poised with our map we cycled off in search of some wine. The route to most of the vineyards is not on nice little country roads as you would expect but mostly on the side of a motorway which initally took a bit of getting used too. Once familiar with the bikes we headed to our first stop which was the Wine Museum (which was free) to learn more about how the wine is made and a little tasting. We got a tour of the working winery which was very interesting and we learnt basically the differences between a good wine and an average wine. Suprisingly, we learnt that your more average, cheaper wine is aged in concrete tombs which they add a strip of oak to to flavour compared to the good stuff which is aged in oak barrels. Thought this was an interesting fact.
We then cycled to Tempest Alba, the farthest away, family run vineyard to do some proper tasting. We sampled six different wines: a rose, a merlot, a temperllio, a cabernet sauvignon & two malbecs. I must confess that I am not a red wine drinker (I prefer white personally) but I thoroughly enjoyed the wines that we tasted, Mark however didn't really dig the red wine as much as myself. We then cycled to another vineyard but decided to not bother tasting as by this point we were feeling a wee bit tipsy having had no lunch. All in all, we had a lovely time on the bikes and a good giggle, particularly being slightly drunken on the bike ride back to Mr Hugo's. Mr Hugo was a real delight and made sure we got on the right bus to head back to town. A lovely day!!!
The Hot Springs:
Another one of Mendoza'a top attractions is their natural hotsprings. After a recommendation by our hostel and looking at the brochure we decided it would be a nice way to spend a day. We could pay 60 pesos each do to the tour or pay 30 pesos but make our own way there. So off we went to take the bus for an hour out of town into the hills to what we thought would be a day of luxury in the spa like hot springs. However, when we arrived at the hotsprings it was basically a half build, concrete slab of a place set on the side of a hill that basically looked like a massive pile of kitty litter. The place was absolutely heaving with locals all chilling out in giant concrete baths of hot water. It was truely a bizarre place. We spent the day in and out of the hot water basically waiting for our bus to arrive to head back home. It was a really weird place which we wouldn't recommend. They served beer in polystyrene cups - I need say no more!!!!!
The Andes Tour:
By far the best thing that we did while in Mendoza was the Andes Tour. On our last day we paid 130 pesos each to be driven out along Route 6 the major route between Buenos Aires and Santiago in Chile into the Montanas. We drove three hours out of Mendoza out into the beautiful Andes and stopped off at various points along the way to see some of the natural wonders of the region. Our favourite part of the tour was stopping off at the Inca Bridge which is a natural bridge (the only one of its kind in the world) that was used by the Inca's as a bridge to cross the Mendoza river. As you can see from the pictures it is pretty cool. We also stopped off at the view point of Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America.
Our final destination was to visit the Christ the Redeemer which is a monument situated high in the mountains 3,832 meters above sea level on the border between Argentina and Chile. To get there we had to make our way up the pass of La Cumbre, to the highest point of the old road between Mendoza and Santiago. It took the bus 20 minutes going up a incredibly steep and tiny dirt road with sheer cliff drops. Pretty hair raising stuff. You can see the road on the picture but it doesn't show you just how steep and scary it was getting up there. Once you reach the top you have a great view of both the Argentine & Chilean Andes and if you stand in front of the Christ you are standing half in Argentina and half in Chile. Christ the Redeemer looks over both countries and celebrates the peace between the two countries who have never been to war. Unfortunately you don't get a stamp in you passport but was pretty cool to visit Chile for 20 minutes. We then got back on the bus to head down the dirt track. As the bus started it's decent all we heard was the Guns & Roses "Knocking on Heavens Door" ringing through the bus, the tour guides idea of a funny joke - no one was laughing however until we reached the bottom. A great day and definitely the best thing we did while in Mendoza.
So as you can probably tell we didn't think that much of Mendoza. For us the best thing about Mendoza was Chimbas Hostel which we really enjoyed staying at. A great hostel with fantastic staff and a great garden that we spent quite a lot of time chilling in.
Our next stop is Bariloche, which is down south in the Argentine Lake District. We have high expectations, but anticipate that it will be nicer than Mendoza, but that wouldn't take much. Fingers crossed!!!!!
Total Bus Hours So Far: 49