Tour du Argentina......12-15 Nov

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Friday, 12th November

We finally arrive in Salta, Argentina at around 5am in the morning and dawn is just about to break. I had reserved a room at a hostal which was apparently close to the station, but as we arrive very tired and disorientated and didn't have a clue where it was, I for one was not in the mood to walk with my backpack, so we hailed a taxi...which took us all of the 200 yards!  I wasn’t sure if anyone would be up at that time, especially bearing in mind I said we’d be there around midnight, thankfully the room was ready so we went straight to bed! After a few hours sleep we then headed into the centre which was about a 15 minute walk. But it was a nice walk and the weather was lovely and warm. My first impressions of Salta are good, it is has a pretty main plaza, with churches and nice buildings and just has a nice vibe about it. The people seem happy. I wonder if all Argentina is like this? I would actually have liked to have spent more time here, but Katharina is especially keen to get down to Mendoza as soon as possible. Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina, so I can understand why, but Sharda my Swedish friend who I met in Peru, did say she didn’t like it much and preferred Salta and I’m tired of buses. But we book to leave Saturday afternoon. The buses are much more expensive than Peru and Bolivia.  Another overnight bus but no-where near as far as we travelled in Bolivia yet it will cost us 340 pesos – nearly 70 – double our previous journey. I think I will spending lots of money on my travels within Argentina.

Saturday 13th November

Checked out of the hostal only to find that they wanted to charge us for two nights. I was not surprised as I had originally booked for the Thursday night, we arrived at the debate is whether that qualify as a Thursday or a Friday booking. Katharina had spoken to someone earlier in the day and they seemed to confirm we could just pay for one night. Well I’m not sure if it is being German or just Katharina’s way, but she was quite angry and arguing the case against having to pay for 2 nights. It was pretty impressive, the guy was sticking to his guns and then he just gave in, just like that.. I wish I had that skill...I would probably have just paid for 2 days! We spend a few hours in the town centre before getting our backpacks and walking to the bus station. My backpack feels so heavy, but I’m sure I will get used to it.

So off we go again. Bus runs on time, but shortly after we leave the station it stops for about 20mins doing nothing...and then about an hour later it stops again and we all have to change buses and that means getting all our luggage off and on again. Can we not just have one bus journey that takes us from A to B without any added complications? In the end the new bus was ok and they served coffee and food throughout and we also had 3 films , one violent, one comedy and one least they show them in English or with subtitles.

Sunday 14th November

We arrive in what the Lonely Planet describes as 'Stunningly Picturesque’ Mendoza at around 10am in the morning. We had not booked a hostal and when we arrived a lady at the station was offering free pickup and a good rate so we took her up on her offer. Wish we hadn’t! Thinks took a downward turn when the guy who picked us up in a car started smoking...I know that is probably common place in Argentina but again not a great first impression. Turns out it is his hostal. We are in downtown Mendoza so far from picturesque. We are taken into the front room, there are two girls who are about to leave who don’t look very happy... wonder why? The room is not ready and we are desperate for a shower, but there is a room without a private bathroom available and we just take that. The owner is middle aged, fat and grubby. He also has a very young looking wife who he was snogging right in front of Katharina - erh makes me ill just thinking about it. Everyone smokes in the hostal and it is dirty... I knew we should have stayed in Salta an extra day.  We walked into the centre, not a very nice walk, the streets leading to the centre are pretty run down, first thoughts are grey and grim, it actually feels quite unsafe and I would not fancy walking here alone at night....It is very quiet there is no life to this place and I honestly cannot understand how the LP writer could describe this place as stunningly picturesque – he/she must have been drunk when they wrote that.  Severely disappointing Mendoza might have been more appropriate.

Monday 15th November

We checked out of Hostal Ruca Pota – take our advice and never stay there. We have booked the 10pm bus from Valpariso, Chile only 110 peso so not too expensive and only 8 hours or so. Firstly though we do a wine tour...well that’s the only reason we came here. Yesterday when we went into one travel agency to inquiry about tours and costs, when Katharina asked if we could visit more than 2 vineyards, she was politely told no and it was suggested we go and buy a couple of bottles of cheap Argentinan wine if we wanted to sample more...honestly the people here are on another planet. Anyway in the end we go with another tour. We visited two wineries and a chocolate making factory. There was no impressive landscapes to admire like the vineyards of Australia or even Dorking in the UK for example. The places we visited were in the city so just brick buildings explaining the process of wine making. Having spoken to a few people who have visited Mendoza and liked it, maybe Katharina and I just had a bad experience. But we are both reasonably well travelled and have visited other wine regions including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa between us and we were thorough disappointed with Mendoza.
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