BootsnAll Travel Network

Mendoza, winelands and more swine flu mania

My bus from  Córdoba to Mendoza was good, I actually slept well.  Far superior to the semi cama bus.  The seats recline all the way back, are wide and very comfortable.  Sunny skies greeted me in the morning upon arrival in Mendoza, along with a view of mountains.  Something I haven’t seen for a while.

Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s large wine industry, on the very flat plains near the andes.  The 4th largest city in Argentina, but less than a million people here.  My hostel was one of the best I’ve stayed in on the whole trip, with the best guitar I’ve ever played in a hostel.  They even brought out free wine every evening.  (and it was actually pretty good wine).  One of the best things about the hostel was you are always meeting/talking to everyone else there.  I scarcely did anything on my own all of the four days I was there.  I walked around the major points of the city my first day there, sensing a much more laid back feel and less people rushing around than Buenos Aires or Córdoba immediately.  There’s none of the old buildings here like the last 2 places I’ve been because they have all been destroyed by earthquakes, so the town is not attractive in that sense.  It has lots of plazas and a central pedestrian area that give it some great character though.

plaza independencia

When the owner of the hostel asks you if you want to do a biking winery tour and get your bike for free the next day you don’t hesitate much.  Especially since the winery tour offered by minibus here costs a staggering $80, more than any I’ve done in other countries.  By biking around, paying only the small tasting fees and for lunch I visited 4 wineries (one of them was revisited at the end), biked between them in the great weather, with a view of the snowy Andes not too far away the whole time, spent 8 hours in all and spent less than $25 all day on it.  You get a bike, a map and a briefing on which order to go to the wineries (to make sure you are there for the English tours), there were 8 of us all together, from my hostel and two others.  Great fun, and lots of good wine.  It’s a lot less diverse than some of the wine regions I’ve visited previously, but the Malbecs (trademark wine from here) and Cab-Sav’s were all good.

wine cellar

I walked up through the very large park on the West side of the city to a lookout to see more of the mountians, unobstructed by buildings.  A lot of walking and an anticlimactic view, you can see mountains, but not the snow caps of the Andes, because there are smaller, brown mountains in between at this point.  To the South you can just start to see a line of snowy mountains stretching into the distance.

el parque

el parque

One last thing before I cook some food and then catch my 18 hour bus to Bariloche, swine flu mania is growing to obscene levels.  Apparently there have now been over 120 deaths here, making it 2nd only behind the USA.  In a country with 40 million people.  How many people die from malaria or any given number of other diseases every day that never make the news?
Anyway, today they enacted more emergency measures.  Only a small number of people are allowed in public places (banks, supermakets etc) at once.  I just waited in a line to get into a supermarket, a large one, that maybe had 30 people inside the whole place.  They are also banning anyone who is under 18 from entering such places at all!  Signs warning people not to stand to close to others are everywhere.  The upside of this is the last place I am heading here, Bariloche is in a major ski resort area and this is normally the peak ski season and travel season for the winter holidays.  However, due to the swine flu, buses and accommodation that wold normally be booked out, does not need to be booked in advance at all.  Less people around, no advanced planning required, awesome!  I’m thinking the mountains themselves are unaffected by swine flu…

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