Our journey had clearly been going much too smoothly up until this point (with our only bus related hiccup being the broken down bus to Buenos Aires), so it was about time we had another delayed and stressful journey. We were waiting in Cordoba for our overnight to our final Argentinian destination, Mendoza. Due to arrive at 8pm, we waited in the freezing cold bus terminal for four hours for our bus to finally turn up at midnight. In the meantime the bus company workers either told us “10 minutes more!” or just shrugged their shoulders and told us to wait. By the time the bus did arrive we were no longer annoyed, but just grateful we would be getting to Mendoza at all.
We woke up the next morning approaching Mendoza with our first ever view of the Andes, which made our stresses of the night before feel a little less bad, and we were excited for our arrival. We settled in and showered at our excellent hostel (Lagares hostel, I would hugely recommend it), then headed into the town in search of food. We discovered an great family run (chatty and friendly father and son duo) buffet cafe, which had lots of veggie stuff for me and slabs of meat for Toby. We filled our bellies and went out to the main square in the middle of town, Plaza Independencia. Sitting on a bench deciding what to do, Toby noticed the Australian rugby team walk past us (I didn’t even know they were due to be playing Argentina, and Toby had assumed the match was in Australia). I persuaded a reluctant Toby that we should go and chat with them and I got a photo of him with a few of the players. Later that day we booked tickets to the rugby match which was two days later (which Toby later described as ‘the worst rugby match I’ve ever been to’, but was a fun experience nonetheless).
The next day we booked our first tour of the whole trip, we usually a bit reluctant to book tours as we aren’t keen on being herded on and off a tourist bus with limited time to see anything, but the half day wine tour we booked was worth it. It wasn’t too expensive and it was a nice afternoon visiting two wineries, tasting plenty of local Malbec (it’s tough, I know!) and visiting an olive oil factory. We also did a little more wine tasting in a nearby bar, and the owner gave us a free bottle of homemade wine, which we shared back at the hostel with some new friends.
The next two days of our trip we did the same thing, but it was the best thing to do in Mendoza (in our opinions). We took a bus to the wine region we had visited the day before on the tour, Maipu, which is on the outskirts of Mendoza, rented some bikes and cycled around the various vineyards stopping for lunch and locally brewed beer in the sun. It was really relaxing and the weather was great, and unusually warm for winter, and we got to look around the countryside a bit more than we got to in the tour company’s minibus.
Our experience of Mendoza was great. We also visited the city’s small aquarium, and it’s large park to the north of the city, where we climbed a large hill for views of the surrounding countryside and the Andes in the distance. There were several things to do in the city itself, and the surrounding vineyards are great on sunny days. We spent four days there and would have happily stayed longer.