Adventures in the wine country

Mendoza Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 13 › view all entries
Just a few hours ago I arrived back in Buenos Aires on an overnight bus from Mendoza.  I'm a little short on sleep and have lost my voice to the nice cold I picked up, but I'll do my best to convey how incredibly awesome this past week has been. 

Tuesday night we headed down to the bus station and found our terminal and our first-class seats.  I'm fairly certain that this was my first first-class experience and it did not disappoint: it was a double-decker but had only about 12 seats up top and 8 or so below, the plush seats reclined fully, we were served champagne for dessert, and best of all I had the front seat with a full view.  We arrived in the morning and nearly immediately fell in love with the city - similar in its Argentine character to Bs.As. but with more trees, sidewalks as wide as the roads, a cleaners feel, mountain spring water comes out of the taps, and travelers/backpackers are everywhere.   All the streets are also lined with aquaduct-type streams which help drain the mountain water and act as a natural air conditioner in the summer.  We got to our hostel to find that they offered tours basically everyday, so we signed up for three days worth of activities on the spot.

The first was the wine tour on Wednesday afternoon; we toured one medium-sized winery on the outskirts of town (named Weinert) with huge French oak casks in the cellars and several good wines at the tasting (I'm bringing back one of their honey-tasting dessert wines).  The other was a very small producer, Carmine Granata, where I almost splurged for their world-acclaimed bottle of malbec (even though it was actually only about $45USD), but decided I'd rather buy cheap wine and go paragliding.  We finished with a tour of a local chocolate factory, but I was too scared about having what would have been my fourth allergic reaction of the trip and didn't end up trying much.

Thursday we took a "high mountain tour" which drove us up into the Andes and close to the border with Chile.  It was breathtaking and also freezing cold, especially when we left the van for a trekking excursion, tromping through the freshest, most powder-like virgin snow i've ever seen (in our tennis shoes).  We saw some of the higher peaks, although we couldn't catch a glimpse of the highest peak in the Americas, Aconcagua, as there was a storm at the top.  We also stopped by an old Roman-style bridge used by San Martin and his troops to cross the Andes and drive the Spanish out of Chile, and saw the Puente del Inca sulfur natural bridge. 

Friday might be one of the best days EVER.  I got up early to go running with one of the other girls, through the sprawling San Martin park just two blocks away from our hostel.  This park is incredible - it has a university, a regatta club, tons of activities, miles and miles of gorgeous trails, and more.  Then we started out tour off with a trekking excursion, hiking up one of the mountains in the smaller range before the andes.  On the way down, we repelled off cliffs of 12, 8, and 45 meters which was great but also nerve-racking, especially as your grip inevitably starts to tire on the way down that last one.  Our next stop was the best lunch of homemade empanadas - a typical meat-onion-spice-filled flaky pastry.  After that, a trip to the natural hot springs in the area, where we just basked in the surroundings for a good two hours.  To top off the day, several of the hostels had organized a huge asado (barbeque) for all the travelers, so we had a great meal in the company of people from all over the place and then finished up the evening with dancing at one of the local venues.

Saturday was paragliding.  The guides drove us to the landing spot and then started loading up our gear.  In the distance we saw some smaller hills, which we figured would be our launch point.  Nope.  When we started the ascent in our fully-equiped landrovers, we went waaay past the small hills and climbed a dirt road all the way to the top of a mountain, where there was snow, right next to a radio tower.  It was awesome.  You take off with a running start down the mountain, and then all the sudden become airborn and then enjoy a surprisingly relaxing sail through the sky.  Towards the end, my guide pointed out another glider doing some trick maneuvers and asked whether I liked acrobatics.  I said yes, and he gave orders on how to shift my weight around so that our glider was cutting sharp turns or spiraling.  Very cool, but also a bit sickening.  Afterwards, I went into town and walked around the artisans markets, where I bought the best wine country souvenier: a 5-liter French oak wine cask, that can actually store and dispense wines or liquors for up to 3 months at a time. 

Sunday was a lazy day, I mostly read or walked around the city before we caught the bus back.  This time, they even had a game of bingo going to entertain us.  I think that's about all i've got this time.  Hope to hear form you all soon!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: montecarlostar