While waiting in our hostel Luna Sonrisa in Valparaiso for our late evening bus to Mendoza we do a bit of research of places to stay once we get there. As per normal we end up enquiring with quite a few hostels and guest houses but only two hostels come back to us, and only one with a positive answer. As luck would have it it’s our preferred choice Hostel Macando that has a room for us – result! It’s nice to know where we were going once there so we can relax on the bus and not having to worry about going door-to-door when arriving early in the morning before opening hours.
The bus journey is supposed to take eight hours and they manage to only be delayed by about half an hour so that’s not bad. It was probably because the border crossing took half an eternity. But apart from the long wait outside in the cold at the border for the slowest passport control known to man the journey was very comfortable. The bus is really spacious and you can almost stretch out as if in a bed if you don’t mind squashing the person behind you. We’re both trying to be a bit respectful and only take our seats back maximum half way but this is not the case for the people in front of us – we always seem to be seated behind some inconsiderable bast*%#s… At first a bit annoyed we are still able to relax and get some sleep after a bit of silent cursing.
Upon arrival we get approached by an old American ex-pat at the bus station who gives us tips about safety, and warns us that people would be clocking tourists who are looking at maps, in their guide or looking like they’re lost and then targeting them for snatching their bags or pick pocketing them. He seems very convinced that it’s very dangerous for tourists in Mendoza, but we find the streets feel very safe upon arrival and even though it’s 06:30 and the streets are deserted we decide to walk to the hostel which takes about half an hour. The hostel is easy to locate and after waking up the poor tired night watch we’re luckily enough to be able to dump ourselves and our bags in the room straight away – it’s a four bunk dorm room which shares bathroom with another similar room, but we get the room as a private room and as nobody is occupying the other room we effectively have a private bathroom.
We doze off for a bit longer than planned and only get out of the hostel about 15:00 for a bit of exploring. First a late breakfast is needed and we find a rather posh looking cafe just down the road from the hostel called Tea & Company. It’s a really relaxing place and we feel a little bit out of place as the rest of the customers look like business people and are smartly dressed as opposed to us in shorts and sandals. After a lovely scrambled egg and ham with toast and a lovely fruit salad accompanied by a huge pot of tea we head up to the central square called Plaza Independicia and find a bar there for a few beers and some simple but excellent food. Time flies fast and we find it’s getting a bit late. As our hostel has a nice kitchen we decide to go shopping for some ingredients for the next day’s dinner, after which we toddle back to our hostel for the night.
The next day we take it slow and vegetate in the morning before deciding to book a wine-tasting tour for the afternoon. It’s one of the cheaper tours, but it’s actually really good – it was recommended by our hostel and they book it up for us as well. We first visit an olive oil and dried fruit producer called PasRai where we get to learn about the process of the extraction of the oil from the olives. Afterwards we get to taste some of their products of course – my favourite is the sundried tomatoes in olive oil. After PasRai we hop back onto the bus and have a good laugh when we discover the name of the tour company to be Wanka Turismo… We then drive to the Cavas de Don Arturo vineyards for a guided tour of their production facilities and we learn how they produce their wine in a completely natural way, not adding any sugar or chemicals to speed up the processes. After the tour it’s of course time for a little bit of tasting of the goods and I have to say I really liked it very much and am gutted we don’t have the opportunity to bring any wine with us home. Our guide on the tour is very good and full of witty remarks, mostly about the various effect of drinking too much wine of course – they’re obviously used to deal with drunken people.
After the wine-tasting at Cavas de Don Arturo we head over to another winery called Florio where they specialise in sweet and sparkling wines. Much of the process is the same as at Cavas de Don Arturo, but there are a few added steps – it’s still an all natural process and the tasting session is very much enjoyable. I normally don’t like sweet wines so much but have to say I was impressed with the wines we were presented with.
It’s the end of the tour after our tasting at Florio and the bus heads back to Mendoza centre. We find it odd that the bus passes close to our hostel but does not go to drop us off – rather it starts to move further and further away from the area we’re staying in. I start to get a bit concerned and get my Google maps up on my phone and start tracking our movements. It confirms our fears, we’re moving further and further away from where our hostel is situated. Suddenly we get the signal from our driver and the guide that it’s our stop, but being about six-seven kilometres from our place we start protesting as they try to get us off the bus, convinced this is our street. After a lot of back and forth and repeatedly showing them on Google maps that we’re at the wrong side of town they finally realise they’ve made a mistake. They let us stay on the bus and drive back all the way through the centre of town to drop us off. We arrive back at our Hostel a bit late due to this misunderstanding and are absolutely starving by this time – good thing we’d gone shopping for some ingredients for dinner the night before and we quickly dish up a lovely little meal.
Last day and we have a wait till the evening before our bus to Buenos Aires. We take a walk into the centre again to buy our bus tickets and have a look around. We were hoping to do a little bit of shopping but are disappointed to find nothing but pharmacies and restaurants open because of the siesta. After a bit to eat we walk back to our hostel and start researching a place to stay in Buenos Aires while waiting for our departure.