Friday, October 19, 2012

The first day in Mendoza

Last weekend we did our first big trip outside the city, and in fact outside the country. We took a bus from Santiago to a city in Argentina called Mendoza. The city is one of the larger cities in Argentina, and is a tourist destination because it is located right in the heart of wine country.
Map of World Wine Producers. Argentina and Chile have taken their place on the map. Thanks to for the image.

As our guide explained: in order to be known as a world class wine producer, a country must have a specialty that it does better than anyone else. France has Cabernets, California has Zinfandels, Australia has Shiraz, and Argentina does Malbecs. Maybe not quite as common as some others, but if you want a Malbec then you should go with Argentina.  (I'm repeating all of this from the tour guide; people who know something about wine may disagree here)

But our trip was not totally about wine.

As Caroline mentioned, the trip started off great because the bus ride crosses over the Andes mountains, and the views were incredible.

You get the idea. This was a bus ride that you could probably sell as a tour all by itself!

One of the most amazing parts was when we made our way up over the pass to the border crossing. In order to climb the mountains on the Chilean side, you go through a series of 40+ switchbacks. It's a little nerve wracking when you look out the window and see how far down below you were:
It might be hard to see, but you can kind of see the road snaking back and forth all the way down. And we were not nearly at the top at this point!
The border crossing itself was the one frustrating part of the trip. They could seriously use some efficiency consultants there! Getting off the bus, standing in line, getting on the bus, getting off the bus, standing in line again, etc. It's kind of funny though, because you have to show your passport to both the Chilean control and the Argentinean control, and they are right next to each other. So you wait in the Chilean line for like 45 min, then you get to the window and get your stamp, and step 5 feet to the right to the Argentinian window to get processed again!
The border control is in a giant hangar-like building, and there is a long line of fancy tour buses. I think a certain uncle of mine would really enjoy checking out the buses :)
When we got to Mendoza, it was already around 5pm, so we made our way to the hostel. We had a private double room with our own bathroom, which was a nice setup. It wasn't exactly the fanciest place we've ever stayed, but it was clean and private, so that was a good start.

From there, we explored the city a bit. Mendoza is a beautiful town, and very friendly to tourists. A lot of the main attractions are within a close walk of each other, there are parks and plazas everywhere, and lots of shops with delicious things to try. We couldn't resist getting some helado (ice cream), and the shop had a Malbec wine flavor. Fortunately, they also offered double cones with room for two flavors side-by-side, so Caroline got Malbec on one side and Dulce de Leche con Brownies on the other (yum!).
Truthfully, the Malbec flavor was kind of gross. It actually tasted like wine, so it wasn't sweet like you expect ice cream to be. Not my favorite.
We went out for a nice dinner sitting on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant (starting dinner at like 9:30!). It was enjoyable, though we didn't pick the place with the best food. After that, we went back to the hostel and to sleep. I'll do another post about the next day, but I don't have those photos right now.

Leave comments! What weird ice cream flavors would you want to try? Any wines that you would recommend? Was my wine knowledge at the start of this post abysmal? Let us know!

No comments:

Post a Comment