Thursday, November 14, 2013

Argentina, here we come...

An overnight bus, aboard 'Andesmar' from Santiago, would lead us to the border crossing at 3AM, with a very smooth transfer from Chile into Argentina, (apart from our having to pay a whopping $160 to enter the country).  At least it's good for 10 years...

We were told that the border can take anywhere from an hour to 4 hours to cross, but in our case, we zipped through, nobody checked any luggage, and we were in Argentina while it was still dark out...

We arrived at the Mendoza bus terminal at 5AM, which was brutal.  There was nothing open, and we found a bench just inside to sit on and wait...

At about 6:30, we jumped in a cab, and headed towards a hostel that was in our book.  They seemed to have closed down, so the next one on the list was "DamaJuana" on Calle VillaNueva.  They offered a dorm room to us, with  nobody in it, and we quickly went downstairs and went back to bed to catch up on some sleep.

We woke up at about noon, and realized we were actually in Argentina!  Spent the day walking around, searching for a spot to change some US cash, and a music shop to get my guitar fixed.

No luck on the guitar the first day, and the second day, we decided to change hostels, as a friend of mine, Patrick, from back home, lived in Mendoza for a bit, and worked at 'Lagares' on the other side of town, so we headed over to actually ask if they needed any help.  We grabbed our stuff and trudged it for a couple kilometers, and found the spot.  Javier, the owner was at the desk, and not only did they not need help, but didn't have room for us to stay!  Bummer, we thought, but he came up with the idea that we could leave our stuff in the storage room, and at 4AM, 2 girls were leaving on a bus, so we could take their beds for half price.  This worked out perfectly, because NOBODY in Mendoza goes to bed before 5AM!  Javier was super nice, and we ended up staying at Lagares for another 3 nights, and he gave us a killer deal.

We booked the wine/bike tour, that everybody talks about through him (the hostel offers bikes from 'Mr. Hugo' for free if you stay 4 nights), and we did this on our last day in town.

Mendoza was much bigger than we imagined, but had a nice feel to it.  Desert-like scenery all around, with a distant view of Andean peaks.  We walked all around the city, and to the main park, which was gigantic.  There, was a a peak to walk up, called "Cerro Gloria," where you get a great panorama of the whole city, and surroundings.





The trip to Mendoza was successful all in all, we found the part I needed for my guitar, got a good exchange rate on some US currency, and fulfilled our yearning to wine taste in Argentina on bicycles..."Mr. Hugo's" bike rental turned out to be amazing, and we rode with a German guy named Marcos for the day, visiting about 5 wineries, including a wine museum, an olive oil factory/homemade craft liquor shop, where we got to taste Argentinian absinthe, among others, and delicious balsamic vinegars, and we ended the day at a craft brew garden, where we sat in some comfortable chairs and were served delicious fresh-out-the-oven empanadas.

The Wine Museum
Tasting Room

Home-made liquor tasting
Marcos, Danica and I at a winery

At the 'Beer Garden' good beers and amazing empanadas
We hurried back to Mr. Hugo's rental shop, to meet our 7pm return deadline, and were given a proper police escort, as they followed closely behind Danica, with her wine bottles in basket, on a police motorcycle and a pickup truck.  Quite a sight to see!  Upon arrival back to Mr. Hugo's, he greeted us with a smile, and told us he had something to give us...We hadn't even met him that morning, as we were helped by a younger guy, Hugo comes out bearing 2 bottles of white wine, and tells us to 'pour them over ice, and enjoy!'  What a nice guy, we had a blast.

Danica followed by her police escort
Next on our minds was the 9:30 departure of our pre-booked bus to Bariloche, which was going to be 19 hours or so...We had to get back to Lagares, grab our stuff and rush to the bus terminal.

We made it, with only a couple minutes to spare, and hopped aboard, with a couple shitty sandwiches we grabbed on the run, to make up for dinner...Our journey that night would lead us into the north, and beginning of Patagonia, and we were about to experience the start of where we'd been planning on making it to, and furthermore, our destination!!!

Best desert wine we've ever had...Di Tommaso "Vino Generoso," from the winery in Mendoza...