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Mendoza, Argentina

We arrived in Mendoza after an overnight bus from Cordoba, bus travel here is very comfortable with some busses having fully reclining seats the size of a business class seat in an aeroplane. To our surprise when we arrived at 7:30am it was still dark with the sun not showing itself until 9am. It was also freezing cold and when we went into town at midday on Saturday, everything was closed. Suffice to say, it took us a little while to warm to Mendoza but we´ve spent the last 5 days in and around the city and its quite nice and strangely a bit like home with its tree lined streets. We are often reminded of Garema Place as we stroll around from coffee shop to steak house. We think we should have visited Argentina first on our trip as now we don´t have the major culture differences and everything is so civilised, it is a little harder for us to find things of interest which is strange as it really is beautiful here.

We did a tour of the mountainous regions around Mendoza all the way to the Chilean border stopping at Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of the Himalayas at 6962m, and Puente del Inca, a natural formed bridge stained by sulfur in the thermal waters that run over it. Predictably it was very cold, have a look at the frozen lake behind Cath in the photo, but being surrounded by such large mountains with a dazzling array of colours and shapes was makes 6 hours in a bus and a sore neck worth it. The colours in the mountains here are nothing like anything else we have seen in the Andes and the barrenness makes it very beautiful.

We couldn´t come to Mendoza without doing a winery tour - they have over 900 wineries in the area and supply 70% of Argentina´s wine. We were very lucky to book a tour that had nobody else on it so we were chauffered around with a personal guide to 4 wineries that included a 5 course wine matched lunch and also barrel tastings and full tours through their production including seeing people labelling bottles by hand. The wineries here are quite different to Australia and to get into a winery you must have a booking as there are security guards and big locked gates at each winery. The tasting is quite different too as you pay for the tasting but there is no ´big sell´ trying to get you to buy anything, its just an excuse to sit around and appreciate the wine that they make. The wineries here would have to be in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Its also amazing to see that within approximately 20kms and probably 50m elevation they have quite different microclimates around each wine region due mainly to their proximity to the Andes.

Yesterday we did a tour to the south of Mendoza through Cañon del Atuel which is kind of a mini grand canyon that has had 4 dams and hydroelectric plants built in it. Would have been good without the dams but still an amazing canyon with interesting rock formations (some look like elephants, penguins, monks, turtles and of course male anatomy) and once again beautiful colours in the rock. It was freezing (again!) and our guide didn´t speak english but it was still a good experience, just a shame that the sun wasn´t out to light up the colours it the rocks.

We have done some of the best eating here of our entire trip with each dinner including a full bottle of wine. The weight we have lost over the rest of the trip from all the exercise we have done will surely be back on by the time we leave Argentina. We are booked on a bus tomorrow across the border into Chile to see the Pacific Ocean again and spend a few days in and around the coastal town of Valparaiso.

Still having a ball and can´t believe its been nearly 2 months!
Andy & Cath.

permalink written by  Cath & Andy on May 16, 2007 from Mendoza, Argentina
from the travel blog: A journey to the alter and South America
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Join us on our journey to our wedding and our 2-month South American honeymoon. We will be married on 31 March 2007, in Narooma Australia and are honeymooning through Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina in April and May 2007.

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