The only way is down

Trip Start Mar 07, 2009
Trip End Apr 08, 2010

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Where I stayed
HI International Hostel

Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Friday, September 25, 2009

23rd - 26th September 2009:

Didnīt sleep much on the bus which is unusual, normally they are fairly comfortable, girl behind me gassing on her mobile all night didnīt help. The bus station was hectic, for the first time in South America we were bombarded by accommodation touts trying to coax us into their hostels. We already had a place in mind so side stepped that lot and found the Hosteling International (HI) guy and managed to score a good deal for a few nights in Mendoza.
The hostel is a big place with all sorts of daily excursions going on, really easy, which is exactly what we wanted as we have little time remaining in Argentina now and have not much time to waste searching round travel agents etc,
Went out for a wander round town and put a massive stack of laundry in. The place has a huge park much large Hyde Park, really nice. Got chatting to some American bloke, moved here from New York, said itīs awesome. He was wandering about looking for the owner of a dog he had found there, an Alsatian like his own, the dog was causing a right fuss. Last glimpse he was driving off with it in the back of his car.
Intended to do some white water rafting here but it is a bit too early. They do offer it but the water is a bit low as they are waiting for the snow & ice to melt in the Andes mountains. We did some fairly tame stuff in Thailand but this time I want something a little more exhilarating, so will try some place else. Did manage to book  a couple of other excursions though, a wine & bike tour for the next day, and some downhill mountain biking the day after, the main reason for us both coming here. Discovered that night that our room was right above the entrance and reception area, and the hostel took in a bus load of 18 year old kids that day so had to break out the ear plugs again.
Next day we went on a tour of local wineries on mountain bikes, Mendoza is famous for its wine and have never done it before so thought it would be rude not to. The bikes were lame and we only did about 12km but we saw 4 or 5 wineries and got to quaff down at least a glass at each so was probably for the best they put the bikes away at lunch time. Two morons from Denmark were supplementing the tasters with a bottle at each place as well, not sure who they were trying to impress but it was funny watching them wobble about later on. Was quite a mixed group including an American, a Guatemalan, a couple of Swedish girls, An Israeli, a couple from Oz plus another English girl. The 2 Swedes were quite amusing as it turned out they donīt actually like wine and spent most of the day smoking, chatted to them later on though and they said you simply had to do a wine tour in Mendoza, fair enough! Ang & the other English girl Zoe managed to cycle the wrong way around a roundabout, really flying the flag for us Brits. After that they put the bikes away!
Also visited this liquor place and tried this grenadine type drink called Russian Death, not for me I have to say. Steered clear of the 85% Absinthe though, I fancied being conscious for the hostel dinner party later that night. Weather again was perfect, blue skies and probably about 22 degrees or so.
Decided to be organised for a change and book our onward bus tickets for a change, disappointed to find out the luxury recliner seats were unavailable, we intended to treat ourselves for our final big bus journey in Argentina. We were grateful we got seats at all though, must be a popular route. The party was good, all you can eat pizza, though of course you never get full value for money at these things because you donīt want everyone else on the table to thing you are Homer Simpson on disguise. Necked a couple of beers and a bit more wine but not too much as we had more mountain biking the next day.
Got picked up in the morning by a dude called Ceasar, and his mate Diego and off we went in the mini bus up into the mountains. There was an Argentinian guy on the tour also, William (in English at least). All were mad football fans, said they watch English Premier League and support whoever Carlos Tevez plays for. They still remembered Arsenal legend Nelson Vivas, apparently now a coach back home. Had a bit of banter about the national team who are doing very poorly at the moment. The guides were really good and very funny. Luckily the first half of the day was just visiting places and eating because I had a bit of a sore head. Checked out a local reservoir, took in some amazing scenery which was so good it honestly felt like I was standing in a picture postcard with snow capped mountains, deserts and the Mendoza River for good measure. Also saw some Condors flying about up above as well. We saw this place that Charles Darwin camped at many years ago, a bit of a legend here in Argentina. Also saw an old railway line that would have been one of the worlds best when it was open, was built by th English over 100 years ago but closed since the 1980īs. Saw some weird rock art as well, while learning some Spanish swear words as they described the people that had recently graffitiīd the area.
Finally though, after lunch we got to jump on the bikes. They were decent `Giantī bikes as well, not your usual tourist guff. Despite this I had to swap my bike as the gears didnīt work. Anyway, the purpose of the day trip was to get us to the top of a dirt road in the Argentinian Andes, near the Chilean border, so that we could hoon back down on our bikes, dropping over 1000 metres and nailing 365 curves (apparently, I didnīt count) in the process. It took nearly 2 hours with a couple of photo stops and was incredible. It was majorly steep in places and with seriously sharp bends with the mountain on 1 side and 100 meters of fresh air the other, pretty hairy at times but absolutely brilliant. There was 4 of us riding, Ang & I plus Bill the Argy student and Ceasar the guide, while Diego (these are real names I swear) was in the minibus providing technical support. It was just as well too as Angīs tire fell off about 10 minutes in some how, then when Bill stopped with a flat, Ceasar pointed out to Ang she had 2 punctures herself but hadnīt even noticed! Obviously my skillful riding meant my inner tubes remained unharmed :)
At the bottom of the hill I was devastated, it took a while to really get a handle on taking the bends at speed then it is quickly over but highly recommended though, would definitely do again if I had the time.
Got home and we knocked up some grub before retiring to bed after a couple of long days. Next day had a stroll about town and took care of a couple of errands before heading back for another Hostel party night, this time an all you can eat Argentina style barbecue.
The barbie was amazing, consisted simply of fat chunks of steak and chorizo sausage. It was so good I had jaw ache this morning from all the beef chewing. I have now officially converted Ang from a semi vegetarian (chicken and bacon only), to a ravenous carnivore, well not quite but she was getting stuck into the steak like the rest of us and loving every minute.  Sat down with some guys from Chile for a little while and spent most of it in silence as my Spanish self learning stalled about 6 weeks ago. Did a lot of pointing and gesturing though, will be champion at charades by the time I have finished here I think.
Had a sore head this morning after consuming red wine and beer again, will I never learn? Probably go to the pictures as we have a few hours to kill before another bus journey tonight.
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