My bus trip from Bariloche took 19 hours. For such a long trip there are two different seat types on the bus: semi-cama, similar to airplane seats, and cama, which means ‘bed’ in spanish. For the overnight trip I went for the more comfortable cama seats, although while better than the semi-cama was nothing like a bed. Comfortable as it was, I only got half a night’s sleep I arrived in the desert city famous for its wine.
Mendoza is a city of 850,000 people and my hostel, Hostel Lao, was a few blocks from the bustling city centre. After spending so much time in Patagonia, with its small towns and cities, to come to a big city bustling with people was a shock to the system. But once I got used to it, the jewel that was Mendoza began to sparkle.
Still exhausted from my bus trip, I went out clubbing with a group from the hostel until 6am. The night life of Mendoza on a Friday night was certainly good, although beyond the smelly fact that smoking is allowed in their clubs, there were few issues for our little group of ‘gringos’ and an awesome night was had.
After spending Saturday quietly recovering, on the Sunday a small group of us headed out to Auga Termas. 45 minutes from the centre of town, the thermal hot pools were set in a beautiful location, hidden in a gorge between rocky ridges…
There were many different pools of varying temperatures. Inside, there was a mud pool where you cover yourself, let yourself dry before washing it off in the blast showers. Included in our visit was a huge buffet lunch, Argentinian style. We ate and ate then enjoyed a couple of bottles of fine Mendoza wine outside in the sun, before heading back to the pools. Before we left, three of us had full body massages. A fantastic day.
A couple of days later I moved to Hostel Mora, a cheaper hostel just around the corner. While Hostel Lao was supposed to be the best hostel in Mendoza if not the continent, in my opinion, Hostel Mora did it better. Pretty much all hostels in Mendoza offer a free glass of wine each night, while Hostel Lao offered it five nights a week, on arrival Hostel Mora opened this 4.75 litre bottle of Malbec…
The weather in Mendoza was brilliantly sunny. It is the desert after all and after 3 months in the colder south, it was nice to feel warm again.
On the western side of the city is the massive Parque General San Martin and on the far side, another 45 minutes walk, is Cerro de la Gloria. After a rough ten minute climb I made it to the top for good if not a little hazy views across the city. All trees in Mendoza are hand planted and watered using an irrigation system based on the snow melts of the Andes.
You can’t come to Mendoza without going on a wine tour. Some choose to be driven around but for the keen, bikes can be hired for next to nothing and a self-guided tour done.
I’ve been particularly enjoying the Malbec, a type of red wine that is very popular in Argentina. Riding bikes around the roads of the wineries after many glasses sounds dangerous, but it was actually rather refreshing. So too was sitting at the bodegas drinking wine and enjoying the view…
After eight days in Mendoza it was hard to say goodbye. I had such a fun time, drank an awful lot of wine and met some great people from all over the world.
Things to do in Mendoza:
- Walk through Parque General San Martin
- Climb the towering Aconcagua, highest mountain in The Americas
- Cycle a wine tour around Maipu wine region
- Cycle a wine tour around Luján de Cujo region
- Visit one of the other 12 wine regions
- Explore Witches Cave
- Have a steak dinner in the city
Next I bused to Córdoba, the city at the centre of Argentina.
The Wine Cycling Trail Wanderer.