Dozy in Mendoza

Trip Start May 18, 2005
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Trip End May 18, 2006


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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The journey from Santiago to Mendoza was spectacular. The bus made its way towards the andes and ascended gradually, eventually getting to parts of the mountains that seemed almost impassible. The roads were steep and winding, finding thier way miraculously to the peak of each mountain only to reveal another impossibly high peak for us to climb. At times I honestly thought we were going to go over the edge of some of them. When we reached the top of each peak it was amazing to look back down at the amount of twists and turns we took to get here.

At the highest point we reached the border with Argentina and went through customs with no problems. On the Argentine side there is a bunch of small shops. We had hardly any money, we didn't get a chance to get any out in our rush to get the bus, so we were rather limited in what we could buy. Limited being that we could buy nothing. However, a nice old man in one of the shops gave us a bottle of water with one third of the price. The smell of the burgers cooking on the barbie was a little hard to take...I was starving!!

We performed our usual trick of not booking anywhere to stay before we got there and ended up getting the busy tour office in the bis station to get us (as well as 2 other Irish blokes and a 74 year old American) the last few beds in the town. Don't know why it was so busy, but it was. The hostel was brutal, but a bed none the less, so we spent as little time as possible there. As soon as we got there we just threw the nags into the room and ran out for a bite to eat, the lot of us together. The first steak house we came across was good enough, and still jammed at 12 midnight. Steaks were ordered all around.

Now, I'm not sure if you have heard about how amazing the steak in Argentina is meant to be. They say it is the best in the world. Well let me tell you here and now - its even better than that!! It is without doubt the best steak I have ever tasted, (and it only got better as we travelled throughout Argentina). Beautiful. In fact (and this is not a lie) one of the Irish guys who we met, Pat from Scartaglin in Kerry, was vegetarian for 2 years before he sat down at the table next to us. He could not resist having some. And he loved it. (actually, THE best steak I had was in a restaurant called Facundo in Mendoza. Fantastic. I can still taste it now...)

So what did we get up to in Mendoza? Well, its a very chilled out place. We spent a lot of time wandering round the town, stopping here and there for tea and cake (there are some great cake shops), sipping wine on the walking street, browsing through the markets and on our third night we changed to a different and nicer hostel who were able to organise a day of horse trekking (called cabalgatas over here) way up the the andes. It was great fun and beautiful up there too. We even had a lovely barbie in the back garden of a beautiful house after we were done (with some wine of course). We went on another wine tour. Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina. There were 2 wineries and an olive oil factory on this tour, but some tours take you on a bike tour, which we didn't get a chance to do.

One other thing I did get a chance to do (while Aishling went shopping) was some white water rafting and river boarding. The rafting was cool and we sped down some river I don't know the name of and bashed through some massive rapids, getting tossed into the freezing cold water and trying to throw everyone else in at the same time. Straight after the rafteing I did some river boarding, which basically entails me lying on board with the sides curled up and with my legs dangling out the back with flippers on to steer myself down the same rapids i just did in the raft!! Sounds dangerous (and was) but it was probably one of the best outdoor things I have ever done. It was such a rush and a laugh at the same time.

Next stop Buenos Aires...
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