Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mendoza – the city we just kept going back to!

Parque General, San Martin, Mendoza
We went to Mendoza three times while in Argentina! 

At the border: still smiling as
we haven't realised how long we'll be here
Crossing the Andes from Chile after our stay in Valparaiso, we arrived into the wine-making capital of Argentina on the 5th June (2014) for our first stay with our Argentinian host, Federico, who we found through Air BnB.

Bye Chile, hope to see you again soon
Air BnB is an online accommodation booking service that lists a whole host of different types of accommodation. In Federico’s case, he has a house in Mendoza, with two spare rooms, which he rents out to passing travellers.

Booking at his place was a first Air BnB experience for us and so we were a little apprehensive, but we needn’t have been. 

Us with Federico and Mathieu (who was
also staying with Fede) at the Antares bar in Mendoza
When we arrived at his place – 6 hours later than we had initially told him we’d be there, because of an inexplicable 6 hour delay on the border between Chile and Argentina – he welcomed us with open arms, immediately plied us with wine and then ordered delicious empanadas for delivery.

The queue at the border was long, but this still
didn't explain our 6 hour delay
It was a fantastic welcome to Argentina – particularly after our long wait at the border! We also enjoyed our first week in Mendoza (more to follow on this), cycling around the local countryside, sampling delicious wines, day tripping into the mountains to see Cerro Aconcagua – the highest peak in the western hemisphere, horse riding in the foothills of the Andes and being shown some of the local nightlife by Fede.

Us with Aconcagua in the distance
Fede also introduced us to mate – a bitter, very bitter, tea-like drink that is very popular in Argentina. We very much liked the maté cups and the straws (bombillas) that the tea is drunk from and eventually bought ourselves a cup and bombilla each, but we are still working on the taste.

James' mate gourd and bombilla
We were joined at Fede’s place for much of our time there by Mathieu - a French guy who had also used Air BnB and was on his second visit to Fede’s house. He insisted that we try Fernet, a typical Argentinian drink that you mix with coke. It was a herby, spicey drink, but with the right amount of coke actually quite delicious.

Trying Fernet
We also used our (first) time in Mendoza to organize a ski-trip, before heading off to Buenos Aires. The bus to the ski resort left from Mendoza, which meant we were back in the city both before and after our visit to the mountains.

Before heading to the mountains
On our return to Mendoza, after a week in Buenos Aires and before we headed off skiing, Fede cooked us traditional Argentinian ‘asado’ or barbecue for us and a group of his friends on his rooftop terrace.  We bought some wine and it was a perfect welcome back for our final stay in Mendoza.

So it's a double thumbs up for Mendoza, Air BnB and of course to Federico, who we want to thank for being such a lovely host.

Street in Mendoza

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