A Travellerspoint blog

March 2008

Hair-rising ride in the Andes

Winenuts go nuts in Argentina

View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

The bus ride from Buenos Aires to Mendoza took over 20 hours because there were demonstrations along the road the whole night, so the bus had to make some serious detours. But we were alright; it was the most comfortable bus ride ever! The seats were huge and reclined almost 180 degrees. We have never been in such a luxurious bus before.

Chilling in the bus. No worries here

And then, hellooo home of the wines!

The first thing we did was go cycling in the Maipu region. We stopped at some wineries, took some tours and sipped some wine, and then on we cycled. We have to say that the place wasn't as idyllic as we had expected. We thought we would cycle around on some small gravel roads on the countryside, but the roads were rather asphalt roads with a lot of traffic. Some of the vineyards were really commercial with minimum prices you had to spend per person on a tasting, but some were smaller and more pleasant. But we got to taste some good wines and had a good time and that’s the important thing anyway.

Cycling in Maipu






We had lunch in this incredible garden

The supermarkets have huge selections of wines so every time we go to one we spend a large amount of time just picking a bottle that we want to taste next. Oh my goodness the dilemmas we are facing on this journey. Isn’t it just horrible?

A few days ago we decided to rent a car and do some sightseeing to the north. The plan was to go see some beautiful places in the Andes, like Barreal, one of the most beautiful towns in the world, a natural park where you can check out some dinosaur relics, and maybe visit some more distant wineries along the way. Well, most of that became just a distant dream that never came true.

We should have known not to rent the car from the cheapest place that had some ambiguity with the insurance... But hey, it was the cheapest and we were in a hurry, and nothing bad ever happens to the car anyway, right? Right...

The journey started stupendously. We drove up to the mountains along this really small winding road. The weather was just as you would wish it was on a ride like that: it was raining and the fog was so dense that you could only see a few meters in front of the car. We stopped for lunch at Villavicencio, a place where they bottle mineral water that is sold all over the country. Us vegetarians ordered vegetarian omelettes that had to be sent back to the kitchen twice because there was ham in them (and even after that I found a piece of ham in mine). I don’t really think they understand the concept of vegetarian in this country. In Buenos Aires I had in fact a dispute with the cook in a restaurant because we were arguing about what is meat and what is not. I actually learned something new: ham and salami are not in fact meat – they are ham and salami.

Great views from up here

Light in the end of the tunnel

Anyway, when we reached the top of the mountain and drove to the other side of it, the clouds disappeared and we encountered some really stunning views. The nature there was just beautiful. So the ride down the other side of the mountain offered much more visual experiences. We spent the night in Uspallata in a hotel that once had been fancy but now was already a bit run down. But they had a bowling alley there so we decided to stay there even though it was a bit expensive. Well, it turned out the bowling didn’t work.

The next morning we hopped in the car and headed for one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We had been driving about 20km on a really stony gravel road when we started smelling gasoline. Great. We got out of the car and noticed that gasoline was pouring out from underneath the car. Great. We tried to fix it with some plastic but as soon as we started the engine it started leaking again. Great. So there we were in the middle of nowhere with a car that couldn’t be driven and with our cell phones that weren’t working. What to do, what to do.

Trying the plastic trick

Luckily some really friendly Spanish speaking tourists stopped and helped us. They called the car rental company and found out that they didn’t have another car for us and that we probably had to pay for the towing and repairing of the car because the rental agreement was a joke. Great.

A little help...

But hey, the weather was good and we were in a place with some seriously nice scenery. So we got a ride back into Uspallata and waited for the bus back to Mendoza for about 4 hours. Couldn’t have been a better moment and place to once more sit in the sun and enjoy quarto litros of some lovely local cerveza.

Quatro litros, por favor

So now we’re back in Mendoza and preparing for our next part of the journey. Thanks to that little incident we had time to visit a great spa up in the mountains. There is a place where they have naturally hot mineral water that you can swim in. It was really relaxing. And thanks to that little incident we had time to enjoy a really nice dinner in a lovely restaurant where we finally got to taste some of that famous Argentinean meat.

Enjoying the hot springs

That's a good looking steak

Cheers for the last dinner in Argentina

Posted by AnnaMickus 15:14 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)