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Published: December 13th 2012
By this point in the trip we had spent 3 of the last 7 nights on buses. It was time for a break. Mendoza ended up being a good place to unwind. Mendoza is the heart of Argentinas wine country. It is a decent sized city but feels small, with a laid back attitude. They take their siestas serously (as does much of Argentina, we later found out). Most shops are open 9am to 12:30pm, and then 5pm to 9pm.
Of our 5 days (4 nights) in Mendoza we only left town for two day trips. The rest of the time we just hung out, enjoyed the restaurants and plazas, researched our trip and read. We lucked out and booked a sweet 1 bedroom apartment right in the center of town. Here´s a view from the balcony:
The first day trip was to rent bikes and tour some of the wineries in nearby Maipu. This article
gives a good overview of how to do the trip yourself, all the way from which bus to catch, where to get bikes, and which wineries to visit.
There are a few bike shops to choose from, all located at the northern end of a road known for wineries (affectionately called ¨camino de vino¨). We went with Mr. Hugo bikes, which was recommended in the article I linked above. They have a ton of bikes in good condition. We were happy with our bikes until we got 100 yards down the road, where Orange Bikes has tandem bikes we could have rented. Steph was especially sad since I would have done 80%!o(MISSING)f the pedalling. We shrugged off the disappointment though and headed out on our journey.
The plan was to do most of the biking up front, and then work our way slowly back while touring wineries. It ended up being almost an hour to the furthest away winery, and it was slightly uphill. It was also about 90 deg F out. We were pretty tired and sweaty by the time we made it to the first winery.
After our first tour and wine tasting, accompanied with goat cheese, we were back in good spirits.
From there we went to an olive oil factory and got a private tour from a woman that spoke a little english, but decided our spanish was good enough to speak in spanish the whole time. We got the gist, I think. Each olive tree makes 2000 liters of oil a day, right? Steph´s favorite part of the olive oil factory, probably the whole day, was a little puppy named Tommy.
After that we visited 2 more wineries. By the end of the third winery, Steph decided she had enough wine. For the trip.
Our second day trip was a trek + rappel + hot springs tour, in the mountains about an hour out of Mendoza.
The trek was steep but pretty scenic.
My favorite part of the trek was probably this stick bug, heres a video
We made it to the top of a hill, and the guide told us to put on our rappel gear.
We thought we would be rapelling from here, but it turned out we hiked halfway down the other side of the hill, down some pretty sketchy terrain, before getting to the rappel point.
There were three rappels in total, with the last one being well over 100 feet. The rappelling was fun, but would have been way better with better gear. The belay devices they gave us were pretty basic and didn´t have a whole lot of friction. It required a lot of effort with your right hand to control the descent without getting rope burns. I would have liked to jump my way down, but I had to settle for a slow descent. It was Steph´s first time rappelling, and she did great.
We got lunch at the bottom and went to the last destination: the hot springs. We were really looking forward to soaking in a nice relaxing pool. Unfortunately our hopes were shattered by the screames of 100´s of children. Probably even over 1000 kids were there, splashing and screaming at the top of their lungs. There were lots of pools there, but only one of them was adults only. We found a little nook without too many kids to soak for a little while before we gave up and hung out on the grass until it was time to go.
We really liked Mendoza, although it would probably be even better if we were big wine people. There are tons of wine shops, and wine is really inexpensive there. Maybe later in life our tastes will be refined and we´ll have a new appreciation of the area. Even if you hate wine though, Mendoza is definitely a worthwhile stop.
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