Days spent: 3
Days recommended: 1 is enough for the wine tour, up to you if you want to visit the city or go to the hot springs.
Where we slept: dorm in Lagares Hostel, a cheap, clean and super friendly solution.
What we ate: dulce de leche on bread for breakfast, ice cream (one of the best we’ve ever had, and we’re Italians, @ Ferruccio Soppelsa. Try pistachio and dulce de leche), Milanesa (the Argentinian “cotoletta alla milanese”, another proof of their Italian heritage) & empanadas (@ El Palenque, a restaurant in pulperia /tavern style), carne de olla (a yummy and not too greasy beef stew)
How we travelled: nightbus from Buenos Aires to get to Mendoza (16 hours), by public bus to get to Cacheuta hot springs and to reach the vineyards. By bicycle to get from one vineyard to the other.
How many km we walked: 40.5
How Mendoza affected our wallets: not so much. Everything was quite cheap.
Issues we encountered: the main issue was getting there on a Saturday late AM, after a typically long bus ride from Buenos Aires. It was too late to embark on a wine tour, and we also thought our exhausted bodies would have made it too easy for the alcohol to kick in. On Sunday the vineyards are closed, so we had to postpone it to Monday. Which was a bit annoying because there’s not much to do in the actual city of Mendoza.
Maybe hang out with somebody else at night or take a taxi to and from your destinations. Some streets were very dark and shady after sunset.
Would we recommend it? ish. Both me and Isa thought Mendoza was very overrated. The vineyards are nice but the area isn’t. Our opinion grew stronger after a couple of weeks, when we saw how beautiful the vineyards in Cafayate (Argentina) were. However, the fun you will have, will make up for the initial disappointment.
Analogue tips: Bring light and resistant gear with you at the vineyards. Or wrap everything up. The likelihood of you falling while riding tipsy, well, let’s say drunk, shouldn’t be ignored.
What to do:
- Mendoza. Half a day will be enough for you to explore the retro streets of the wine capital of Argentina. You will come across small vintage markets, empty playgrounds and a huge and quite silent main square with stalls selling traditional handicraft. The atmosphere was quite weird to be honest. It felt like there was too much room for the few people around and the general pace a little bit too slow. Luckily the mood utterly changed in Calle Aristides Villanueva, a whole road of shops, bars and restaurants. Mendoza’s version of Buenos Aires’ Palermo. If you have some spare time you might also have a stroll at San Martin park.
- Cacheuta hot springs. Based on the foothills of the Andes, only 1 hour away from Mendoza’s bus terminal, actually saved our Sunday from another day of aimlessly wandering in town. The landscape, barren and deserted, was so different from what we had previously seen that me and Isa took some time to explore the area before wearing our swimsuits. Before the crispy mountain air pushed us back to our original plan, we found some abandoned, white flowers-invaded, tracks and a traditional Andean village with sheet metal cabins and cacti gardens. There are two spas: one packed with BBQ and reggaeton fanatics, and the other, with snobbish tourists in white bathrobes. Of course we picked the former, also because the latter was 10 times more expensive.
- wine tasting tour. This is the main reason why you plan to visit Mendoza. Its reputation is world renowned but, unfortunately reality doesn’t fully live up to expectations. The vineyards are quite nice, especially with the Andes in the background, however, if you expect to cycle carelessly in a beautiful countryside road, you got it all wrong. The surroundings are industrial, dusty and not really attractive. There are no shades whatsoever and the track is on a side of a busy asphalted street. Don’t get me wrong, you will have one of the funniest days of your South American experience here. C’mon think about starting your day at 10 AM with a wine tasting session (at least 4 or 5 full glasses of Malbec in each winery) and then cycling drunk under the sun to the next one, where you will make friends with every soul you come across, who’s as drunk as you, and so on. It’s hilarious because, with that hot weather and all that sweat, the last thing you would like to drink is a glass of red wine, but you’re there, and somehow you feel like you have to! Only until you see the sign of a biergarten, and you instantly go for it and spend the rest of the afternoon chilling out there. Fun fact: when we returned our rented bicycle we were embarrassingly late (something like 1 and a half hour after the scheduled time. Obviously biergarten’s fault), however the rental guy greeted us with arms wide open and told us not to worry because we weren’t the last. He actually sent the police to search for a Slovakian girl who went missing for hours. We waited for a while there to then see the police driving back with her in the backseat and her bicycle in the boot. She was drunk as f***, sunburnt and completely clueless about where she was, how late she was or how to go back to Mendoza.
Things we missed: I guess we didn’t leave much behind.
Who deserves a big thank you: Biene! For being the best drinking buddy we could have asked for! It was an instant connection and we felt immediately at ease with you.
Olympus OM-10, Lomography Redscale 50-200 (35)
Canon EOS 300, Agfa CT Precisa 100 (35)
17-18-19/12/2016, Mendoza (Argentina)