12.12.2009 - 12.15.2009 80 °F
Mendoza, Argentina, was an area we looked forward to the entire year. We were supposed to start off our honeymoon in the romantic setting of vineyards and mountains back in November 2008, but a border strike prevented us from getting there. We finally rolled into Mendoza in December 2009 on yet another overnight bus (that is five in the last few weeks!) Mendoza is a beautiful, relaxed city with lots of parks, plazas and tree lined streets, but we set our expectations too high on the grape scene. The wine was fantastic, but we had a vision of peaceful vineyards and quaint villages sitting at the foothills of the snow capped Andes mountains, similar to regions we experienced in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and in the States. Rather, the villages were not that well kept and the vineyards were on fairly busy streets with unwelcoming security gates.
Mendoza city has two main areas for vineyards, Chacras de Coria and the more well known Maipu region, which was the first in the nation and we believe started by a Chilean. Mendoza is one of the top five largest wine regions in the world, the largest in Argentina producing 70% of the country's wines. The area is best known for its red wines, especially malbec, as the climate for growing ripe fruit is excellent with dry, hot summers and cool winters.
We loved seeing the old cars en route.
Mendoza city itself is quite vibrant.
Mendoza is also the nearest city to Aconcagua, which is is the highest mountain in the western hemisphere. Fortunately, Dave had no desire to do the 15 day hike to the top. Perhaps the thought of his complaining wife next to him gravitated him towards another glass of wine instead!
Before going to Mendoza city, we visited San Rafael, which is in the south of the Mendoza province and also known for its wine, fruit and olive trees. We visited Bodegas Valentin Bianchi, Suter and La Abeja. Argentinians rave about Bianchi and it was the best of the three.
SAN RAFAEL is also known for the Cañón del Atuel and the El Nihuil Dam. The canyon is about 60 km long and made from a variety of rock types and formations. Unfortunately we don't have the best photos, because we went on one of the worst tours ever. . . only stopping at the hydroelectric plants and not sights of nature's beauty. At the end of the tour we had a really bad wine tasting too
Before getting on an overnight bus to Santiago, Chile, we spent a few hours on our last day in Argentina at the Termas Cacheuta, a thermal water park just outside of Mendoza. The natural, warm and bubbly springs promised to give us a bit of relaxation before returning home. Unfortunately, the million and one children running around had something else in mind.
Twenty six countries later we have returned to Santiago, Chile, where we began our trip. We have come full circle before returning home to Boston.
- Elizabeth and Dave