This past weekend, I crossed the Andes and spent some time in Mendoza, Argentina. A few friends and I took an overnight bus on Thursday night, to arrive early Friday morning and have a full weekend. The trip there was easy, but the trip home took me forever because I had to wait four to five hours at the frontera|border to wait in line and get through customs. Oh well, it was the price to pay for a full weekend! We arrived in Mendoza at the bus station around 6:30am, then grabbed cabs to Hostel Punto Urbano. I had stayed in a hostel only once before, in Washington, D.C. and didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised! The people at the front desk were very flexible, and even though we couldn’t check in until later that afternoon, they made us feel right at home and allowed us to eat breakfast (free breakfast is included for each night of your stay). AT, MM, and I stayed in a dorm-style room, and sheets and such were included. It’s definitely a different experience than a hotel, but is incredibly cheap and allowed us to meet new people and not have to plan to bring sleeping bags, etc. I was comfortable there and would stay again in a heartbeat! It isn’t very private, but that’s part of the fun: I got to know people from all over the world in just a few nights, and even made a friend who grew up in Philly. Her brother’s girlfriend goes to Drexel and is my year. Six degrees of separation seems more and more likely with each person I meet. Everyone has a story about where they’re coming from, or where they’re headed, and it’s interesting to hear about their experiences. It also helps me recognize what’s important to me, and helps me learn to express myself honestly and concisely.
But! I know that you’re most likely much more interested in what I did in the land of horses and wine. Did you know that Mendoza is the fifth largest wine growing area in the world? And the first in Latin America? The more you know. It’s known best for it’s Malbec wine.
Not wanting to miss out, we went on two wine tours on Saturday as well as stopping by an olive oil factory. We went to two bodegas | vineyards, which were both boutique-style, meaning they do not sell to grocery stores, and make only a couple hundred thousand bottles of vino | wine per year. Compared to the larger name brands, this is a minute amount. We visited both Vistandes and Domicino. It was interesting to learn about the process of winemaking: how long it’s aged, where it’s aged, the type of grapes, the weather, the impact of the season changes. The exchange rate from USD to Argentinian Pesos is fantastic, as well as the prices being very cheap, so I bought three bottles from each vineyard. I would have bought more but I had to carry it all home to the bus, through customs, and through the public transportation system in Santiago so I settled on a single case… haha Chilean wine is supposedly quite good as well, so I’ll have a variety to bring back to the states!
On Friday, we went horseback riding through the base of the mountains, and followed it up with a traditional Argentinian asado | barbecue. I saw the advertisement for it at the hostel, and wanted to go right then and there. I don’t get to ride horses that often, but I really enjoy it, and thought it would be a good way to get out of the city and experience more of what the area has to offer. We hopped on a bus later that afternoon, and headed out to the farm. The farm is fully-functional, and is the livelihood of the family who resides there. They have a small garden and rows of trees (I forgot to ask what they produced) as well as pigs, dogs, and horses. We rode for about three hours through the mountains, and it felt surreal. It’s funny to me that I can ski near Santiago last weekend and be riding horses in Argentina the next. This weekend, I’m planning to spend more time in the city, and get to know Santiago a little better. I’ll keep you posted!