Arriving at Mendoza’s bus station after a 13 hour trip from Tucuman, we dropped by the tourist information telling them what we expected of a hostel in Mendoza. This time we were very particular because we would stay here for six nights AND it was the very last place to visit in South America. We were sent to Hostel Estacion Mendoza and found everything we wanted, a quiet place with a swimming pool, Internet and kitchen use. Plus a little garden, a friendly staff and lots of common areas to relax or mingle with other travellers. There are here lot of tourists from Argentinean and Brazil, a great place for a reasonable price that we can truly recommend.
First thing we did was working off the backload of photos and reports that needed to be posted, now that we finally had found a new charger for the laptop. It helped to get it all done straight away, since the weather was miserable. Actually, it had been raining in Mendoza for the last nine days. Something nobody can remember given that it is located in a semi-desert!
When we finally found time to check out the centre, our first impression was that this is the city of trees, trees, trees and wide avenues! All streets, which are unusually wide, are lined with tall trees providing the most needed shade for this city. The most pleasant area is the pedestrian mall with outside cafes and restaurants.
There are not many sights downtown Mendoza and the complete absence of colonial buildings is due to disastrous earthquake in 1862 that more or less wiped out the city. This earthquake explains the current organization of the city: the wide avenues and low buildings are to limit the potential damage of a future earthquake. The many trees keep the town cool so that you can walk around without being roasted by the scorching sun.
On the second day in town, we organized the activities for the following days: a tour to various bodegas, a day of outdoor adventure with rafting, canopying, horseback riding and finally a tour to Puente del Inca and Cerro Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America with 6.962 meters!
In Mendoza even streets cafes serve the 400 gram steak that Gilles has come to like so much. Well fed to tackle further activities, we walked north to find Museo San Martin, dedicated to the “Libertador”, the very general who fought for and won independence for Argentina, Chile and Uruguay from Spain. This turned out to be the craziest and most fascinating museum we have seen so far, at least in Heidi’s opinion. Gilles simply found it chaotic and uninformative! There, you can find an incredible amount of interesting items on display, but they are badly presented in the most disorganized way. So what you get is four rooms cluttered with old photos, ancient oil paintings, dummies clad in colonial style dresses, flags, old furniture, antique weapons, uniforms, gaucho gear, religious objects plus a Christi statue sitting high up on a cupboard, embroidered shoes worn by bishops and old coffee grinders!
Our planned evening activity, a free concert in the Parque General San Martin, featuring alternative folkloric music never happened because of more rain, “Tierra de sol”? But instead we met two very nice Germans in our hostel, Andre und Markus. They choose not to serve in the German army but instead work with very unprivileged children in Chile and had more than a few stories to tell. We ordered pizza, which turned out to be toasted bread covered with ham and cheese, but the excellent Sauvignon Blanc helped us forget this little deficit. A very pleasant evening!