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Published: January 27th 2010
Following our lovely time in Bolivia we caught a bus from La Quiaca (northern Argentina) to Cordoba. Cordoba is well-known in Argentina for the strange, singing speech of the locals. We didn't see too much but a big city. However, during the 24 hour bus ride from Bolivia Nathan and I caught a nagging cold which plagued us during our entire stay in Cordoba. Not seeing too much in Cordoba also has something to do with our low energy levels. We did drop in on the Cordoba Contemporary Art Gallery, but the power in the block was shut off midway through our visit, ending our journey inside the Gallery.
Also a big city, Mendoza is a 7 hour drive from Cordoba. Mendoza imparts a far greater sense of space than Cordoba. Pamphlets say that Mendoza was struck by a violent earthquake a few decades back. The event left the city in ruins and in urgent need of rebuilding. While planning the rebuilding process, the visionary leaders of Mendoza came up with a new city, equipped with wide streets and a spectacularly large Plaza Independencia which would serve as a safe spot for the inhabitants to run
Fountain view 1
This is the spectacular fountain of Mendoza's Plaza de Independencia. This plaza is of spectacular proportions and is the stage for an entertaining array of performances in the night time.
to if another tremor occurred. The result is an extremely beautiful and enjoyable city.
Bike and Wine
I don't like wine - especially red wine. However, if you find yourself in Mendoza you will quickly discover that you are in the wine capital of Argentina. Consequently, wine tours account for at least one third (my calculations) of the tourism in Mendoza. Two nearby towns attract all the attention: Maipu and Lujan. You can either tour the area in a vehicle (bus, minivan) or you can go with the more adventurous option and take a colectivo to the area, rent a bicycle and see the area and the wineries for yourself. Of course, we took the low-budget option: bike and wine.
There is no end to the number of wineries in Maipu. Each bike rental store has a suggested route for the tourists which includes all wineries that the store has an agreement with. Also included on the route are olive groves and olive oil producers, and chocolate "factories" (ours was a disappointment).
The scenery along the route is breathtaking: clear blue skies only broken up by the odd cloud, thriving grapevines, mourning doves, children doing cannonballs
Dramatic skies seem to be a standard in my trip.
in the acequias (water irrigation systems)... The wineries themselves held a beauty proportional to their age - just like the quality of their wines.
But there is not much need to visit anymore than two wineries. Tourists from wine-producing countries often skipped the tours and went straight to the tastings. This is understandable, since the tours are not free. So after our second winery tour, we decided to deviate from the route established by our bike rental place and visit a small cheese factory. The cheese was made completely with ingredients grown on the premises: cow milk, sheep milk, olives (for olive oil), sundried tomatoes, nuts, oregano, peaches, etc. The result is a cheese of absolutely controlled quality. This was probably the most lovely visit of the day.
The following day was mostly about resting off my cold. It was great. Nothing appeared to become of my day when at 6:30pm a Brazilian traveler entered my room and asked me if I was going. Where? I asked. To the game!!! I had noticed a certain buzz about the city during the day including a parade of loud, young people in blue jerseys which I
did not recognize. It turns out that the two most important soccer teams in the Argentinean league were playing in the night in Mendoza! Games between these two teams, given their history as rivals, are called clasicos and are usually so good and so hard-fought that they are called Superclasicos. And I got a ticket off a scalper to watch this game!!
The game was really good. The crowd was even better. When I got into the stadium (after many tedious security checks) the fans had an impressive amount of energy already. I noticed many banners cheering on "player No. 12". Knowing nothing of these teams except for the quality of their soccer, I asked the fan beside me who this mysterious player was. He jerked his head in the direction of the middle of the section I was in (the north section - Boca fan section) and said, he's coming in. I turned my head to see a collection of 10 bass drums walking in among a large population of blue and yellow banners. A crowd followed to fill the middle of the north section, which was reserved for them. Not even a minute later, a small horn
section and metal percussion began playing to a throbbing drum beat which was to sustain the crowd's anthems for the entire game. Rolls of toilet paper found wings to fly into the field, streamers danced gracefully in the air, avoiding gravity. I found myself amongst a crowd of foul-mouthed referees who were ready to throw bottles into the field as soon as the official referee made a major call which they didn't agree with. Flags the size of one-quarter of the stands (see the picture when posted) were unfolded over the crowds at the north and south sections of the stadium. It was craziness!! What a fun night.
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