29.02.2008 - 11.03.2008 25 °C
After a short 7 hr bus ride from Santiago, we got to Mendoza on the 29th of Feb. We got there in the afternoon, and met up with our traveller friends from California whom we have been bumping into all over South America. We found out that Mendoza was celebrating its birthday that weekend, and there were some festivals happening so went to the park, got distracted by our hunger, and by the time we finished our dinner, there was a show going on, but it was impossible to get in as the place was packed out. It did look quite spectacular from the outside, but there was a concert happening at the same place the next evening and we were determined to make that one.
We did a tour of some wineyards (bodegas) the next day on bikes. Aarti and I were on a tandem bike since she can´t ride one, and boy was it hard work. We visited a couple of bodegas, got a tour at one of them and some wine tasting at both of them, and had lunch at another place with more wine.... Cycling can be thirsty work!!
That evening, we did manage to see the concert, and at midnight they had a special fireworks display to celebrate Mendoza´s birthday.
We had a lazy day the next day, and went to the park in the afternoon, with a picnic of wine, bread and olives, and didn´t do too much either the following day apart from eating some nice food and having nice wines.
We visited another Bodega (Familia Zuccardi) the next day where we would get a full tour of the winery, how the wine is made from start to finish, pick some grapes and more importantly, wine tasting and a big lunch with all the wine you can drink. It was a brilliant day, and the tour was very insightful into wine making - we tasted some nice wines, and drank lots during lunch which was massive!! I suffered the next day with a bloated stomach and spent the whole day inside watching TV, while Aarti braved another wine tasting session in town - this time it was some boutique wines from small wineries she was tasting.
We left for Cordoba that evening, but did not like the place too much and the weather didn´t help so we only spent one night there. We did manage to go see Che Guevara´s childhood home which has now been converted into a museum. That was quite interesting as we got to saw his famous motorbike, lots of pictures, some letters he had written to Fidel Castro, his family etc...
We left Cordoba for Salta which is in northern Argentina and our last stop in Argentina. Salta is also where we found a different Argentina - more Andean in culture than Argentinian. We did a 2 day tour where we saw the famous countryside around Salta with its hills, gorges, and drove up along a spectacular railway line, which was a good way to experience the dramatic landscape. The railway line is considered to be an extraordinary feat of engineering and took over 20 years to build and climbs 3000 metres through rocky terrain of a steep gorge. The train has not been working for 2 years, so we did the trip by road which runs mostly alongside the railway line. We stayed overnight at Purmamarca, a small village with a stunning setting at the foot of a mountain stripped with 7 colours. Unfortunately, pictures don´t do any justice at all. The next day, we visited a few towns, saw some ruins and a mueseum and a church and made our way back to Salta.
Tomorrow we are off to Bolivia - and we are very excited to go back to an Andean country after spending the last 3 months in more developed countries.... and its going to help with our budget as well as it seems to be running out of control after Brazil & Argentina.