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Published: August 4th 2010
After leaving Santiago a couple weeks ago Kayce and I continued our journey with a trip over the top of the Andes Mountains from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. As is evident from the pictures, the drive was absolutely stunning. In addition to the glacial rivers and snowy slopes that we passed through, we also cruised right through a couple of ski resorts with the chair-lifts passing right over the top of the bus.
Mendoza is known as the capital of internationally renowned Argentine wine. For many of us Californians when we think wine country we think of the low rolling green hills of Napa or Santa Barbara. Mendoza is different. Set at the base of the Andes Mountains, the vineyards of Mendoza are adored with a picturesque snowy backdrop, and the cold winter temperatures that go along with it. These nippy temperatures didn’t hold us back though from spending a day biking around tasting one of the well known valleys in the area, Pedreal. We visited three different bodegas (wineries) in the day, with a lunch/feast at Ruca Malen Bodega topping the list. As you can see from my pictures, I had the audacity to post a picture of
Ski resort down at the bottom
each of our five courses along with its respective wine pairing. The main course even had two wines attributed to it, one for the filet mignon and one for the menagerie of vegetables. Along with my 11-course meal in Panama, this one is at the top of the list as best meal I have ever had (yes, I was on a backpacker budget 😊.
I haven’t mentioned our lodging much during these blogs, mostly due to the fact that it hasn’t been very memorable in either a positive or negative light. Mendoza’s accommodations (Hostel Lao for other backpackers reading this) were an absolute delight. To begin with, Kayce and I scored a really colorful and clean private room (rare in the hostel world). Its amazing how nice it is to just be able to unpack your bag, make a mess of your clothes on the floor, and not worry about 10 other people wading through it or even worse, stealing it. The common room/living room was the best though. A circle of cushy chairs and couches circled around a wood fireplace, accented with free-flowing Argentine malbec wine. Given this setup, our evenings usually consisted of meeting around the fire
Andean Border Crossing
Argentina in the background
with other backpackers, sharing stories, sharing wine, and arranging a typical late-night Argentine dinner (11pm or later, even for families).
Following our “sideways” tour of Mendoza we headed to Argentina’s “second-city”, Cordoba. A beautiful mix of old and new, this university town proved to be a nice stop over in our journey east to Buenos Aires. We found ourselves frequenting the pedestrian only downtown streets that connected to artisan markets, black markets, churches and the like. Being a history teacher, my favorite part of our visit to Cordoba was a daytrip to the child hood home/museum of Latin American revolutionary Ernesto ‘’Che” Guevara. Most know Che simply as the silhouetted caricature that many American youth wear without knowing who the man really was. I knew a bit more about him through books and film, but found the museum to offer up a much softer, family oriented side to the man known more for his guerilla warfare tactics than his loving nature towards friends and family.
I’ve been falling a bit behind on the blogging and plan on getting many up in the following days. With both relief and a bit of disappointment, we landed this afternoon back in
California after a 24 hour trip from the beautiful and bold Rio de Janeiro. More to come soon, especially with a legit internet connection.
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