Christmas in Argentina

Trip Start Nov 07, 2008
Trip End Mar 03, 2009

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

   I got back on my original route by hopping (or rather slowly being dragged 3 hours through customs) over the Chilean border to Mendoza in Argentina. The route was spectacular going right through the heart of the Andes and constantly being surrounded by huge, snowy mountains and streams. Mendoza itself was a nice city with very wide streets and large trees planted along each one, a nice change from the claustrophobic Bolivian streets. Plenty of street cafes and markets and generally a nice place, although it didn't feel particularly characteristic of Argentina as it could have been anywhere in Europe.

  Mendoza is famous for its vineyards and bodegas just outside of town and, having met a few people from the hostel over breakfast, I went to go and visit them on the first day. The done thing by the travelling (ex) student crowd is to go to one of the few bike rental places in Maipu nearby and hire a bike to cycle around the vineyard circuit. We met more people with the same plan on the bus and formed a large group to go in convoy to pillage the wine supplies of the local bodegas.
It all started off very civilised with a visit to the wine museum and a tour of a bodega, but we soon focussed mainly on the winetasting and, having realised it was more cost-effective just to buy the wine, on buying a couple of bottles at each place. It was a very nice afternoon out in the sun and we ended up back at the rental centre around 6pm but couldn't leave until 9 as our host insisted on bringing more and more free wine. Despite promises of meeting the others, who were at different hostels, later for drinks, most fell asleep after dinner due to too much vino tinto.

 The next few days were spent lazing around the pool in the hostel garden and we had an enormous barbeque on christmas day which left everyone with barely any room for cheap sparkling wine. It was a nice relaxing aside to my journey through Chile and I left on boxing day to head for Valparaiso, only halted by nearly fainting from a monumental nosebleed at altitude (fortunately a Chilean lady was on hand to rescue me and give me food to make it all better). 
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