Mendoza wasn’t actually on our list of places to go. However, looking at out original route in further detail (Buenos Aires to Salta and onto Bolivia) this seemed quite difficult and a lot of hassle. There was more information on how to travel from the top of Peru down to Bolivia than the reverse. Most people we spoke to in the hostels mentioned Mendoza quite a lot so we decided to change our route and flew to Mendoza from Buenos Aires.
We got in to Mendoza about 8pm and tried to look for a bus. Tip: no buses from Mendoza airport at night, probably because the airport is so small. Again we had booked an Airbnb but this time just a room in a host’s house. Once accepting the fact we had to get a taxi we arrived not long after at the Airbnb which was on Calle Catamarca not far from the main square Plaza Independencia. We were greeted by our host Eduardo. He was so helpful and helped us plan our few days in the city.
The next day we decided to go to Museo Fundacional. Unfortunately the museum was all in Spanish but there was a lovely guide who did her best to explain the history to us in English. The museum holds the remains and artefacts of the town hall post earthquake which happened in 1861, 300 years after the city was founded. The earthquake measured at 7.2 magnitude on the Richter scale which devastated the city and caused a massive loss of life. The precautions the city has put in place to prevent such a disaster happening again are visible by the new structure of the buildings, wider roads and large holes in the pavements to control flooding.
Our ticket to the museum was also valid for the Aquarium so we visited this straight after. There was some interesting species of fish but the show stoppers, the alligators were asleep. Like most of the animals we’ve been exposed to in Argentina!
Day 2 we went in search of a wine tour. We took a 25 minute bus to Maipu which is the area for the Wine and Olive farms. We were recommended but Eduardo to visit ‘La Rural’ for the wine tour. The ticket cost about £8 each. Unfortunately they didn’t have any English speaking guides that day so we took a tour around the museum which was interesting. The equipment and machinery used was all on display, showing the progression in technology through the years. Surprisingly you can exchange the value of your ticket for a wine tasting or bottle of wine to take away from their list. Peter and I came to a compromise as I’m really not a fan of red wine but I thought it would be rude not to try a Malbec when in Mendoza and we agreed to buy a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc as this was only an added extra £3 after we used the value of our ticket up.
Now I’m not a wine connoisseur of any sort but I thought the Malbec we tasted was very smooth and light. Nothing like I was expecting or used to tasting back home. The wine was accompanied with a glass of water and breadsticks which was much appreciated by our empty stomachs!
Day 3 we rented bikes from the company ‘Maipu bikes’ (£10 each for the full day) and went to an Olive farm called ‘Laur’, also recommended by Eduardo. Quite a large amount of Mendoza has cycle lanes so the 8km cycle was quite enjoyable apart from the uncomfortable seat! Sore bum indeed!
Typically the Olive farm didn’t have any English speaking guides either until late in the day, at which time the bikes had to be returned I but we did get a tasting which didn’t cost much. The tasting consisted of 5 different Olive oils, 3 Balsamic vinegars as well as bread, sun-dried tomatoes, Olives and Olive pastes. A welcomed change from our usual ham/salami sandwiches we’d been eating every day for over two weeks. It was really enjoyable and something we agreed we wouldn’t experience at home so the sore bum was worth it I’d say!
We purchased this chutney they make as we haven’t been able to find any in the shops and been needing something to make our lunches more appealing. Usual ingredients with added spices of cinnamon and paprika.
Once returning to the bike rental we were directed into the bar next door for ‘Happy Hour’ where you get a glass, or two in Peter’s case, of a home-made Malbec. Two days two red wines, does this mean change for Eilidh?! Happy Hour was from 5-6pm and was included in our rental of the bikes so we thought, why not?!
Later that evening we actually decided to eat out for dinner! We wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for Eduardo’s suggestion. Him again…only joking! The selling point for ‘Quinta Norte’ was $95 Pesos per person for three courses which is about £5. Bargain I know! It was the first time I’d had chicken since leaving Scotland. Feed me chicken and I’ll be happy apparently.