01.04.2008 - 06.04.2008 25 °C
I decided to spend a few days in Mendoza before heading back to Chile. The main attraction of the area is all the vinyards that surround the town and are famous producing most Argentinian wine. The day I arrived I spent the day looking round the city, which I thought was a nice place, not too big and a lot of nice parks and squares. I also went to an intersting museum about the history of the city, from its foundation, to an earthquake in 1860 and how they designed and rebuilt it. In the evening I met a few people in the hostel and went out for a drink with them, to sample some of the local wine before doing the vineyard our the next day. Although I had planned on only going out for a drink somehow I found myself in a club at 4am having drunk a few too many of their very large vodkas. they actually just gave you a whole big glass of vodka and a separate mixer, so you had to drink a lot of straight vodka before you could mix it. I think I eventually got back to the hostel at about 6am so I had a couple of hours sleep before having to get up for the wine tour at 9.30. But that really wasn´t long enough to sober up and when I got up the last thing I felt like was going wine tasting. I thought I would have time for coffee and breakfast but for once the tour bus actually turned up early so ended up just having to get up and go. Luckily it took a while to get to the first vinyard but when we went in for the tour the smell of the wine didn´t help me feel any better. But it was actually interesting to see all the different stages in the wine making and I wasn´t feeling too bad when it actually came to the tasting. We went to 2 vinyards, an industrial one and a smaller one to compare the different methods they use. We also went to a distillary where they make a lot of different liquours, all of which I thought weren´t very nice. After that we went to another vinyard for an amazing lunch and more wine tasting. When we arrived there were loads of cold meats, cheeses, bread and salads spread out on the table and we thought that looked like a good lunch but then the waiter said that was just going to be the starter and there were actually 4 more hot dishes and ice cream to come. So it was a very big and tasty lunch, certainly didn´t need any dinner in the evening.
We went back to Mendoza and everything was shut as it was another national holiday so I spent the rest of the day in the huge park by the city, which also seemed to be where everone else from the city had spent the day.
The next day I set off on a 3 day hiking trip in the Andes. After a couple of hours drive we arrived at thye refugio where I would be staying for the next couple of nights, it seemed a a really nice place but very quiet. I soon realised that actually I was the only peron staying there that night and that I was also the only peson doing the hike that day,, so I had my own private guide. He spoke about as much English as I speak Spanish so we got by in a combination of the 2 languages and ended up having a really nice day. the weather was perfect, clear sunny skies but not too hot so we had a good walk up to a peak at about 3600m. In the evening it was just me and 2 people who worked in the refugio, who spoke absolutly no English, so it was another good opportunity for me to practise my Spanish. Had a very nice dinner with them and a very relaxing evening. It made a nice change from staying in busy city hostels with people coming and going throughout the night.
The next day I wa joined on the walk by 4 other people and a guide who spoke English. We had another really good day climbing a peak called Mt. Arenales to about 3400m. On the way we were really lucky to see a group of guanacos which came really close to us and when we were sat at the top having lunch there were a few condors flying very close overhead. Seeing them this close up made me realise how huge they really are. In the refugio that night I was joined by 2 other people so we had a nci9e evening together.
The final day was the most difficult walk, a climb up to 4200m. But we were really lucky with the conditions again and it was a perfect day so we had no problems getting to the top despite the very steep climb. There were reallly nice views from the top, you could see a very long way down the valley in front of us and behind you could see further in to the Andes with 600m high snow covered peaks - I´ll have to come back another time to climb some of them. As unfortunatly that was my last day in the Andes and I had to retun to mendoza to get the overnight bus to Chile.