Our team of four were very eager to visit the popular Argentinian wine region of Mendoza and sample some of the prized Malbec wines that the hundreds of wineries offer. We arrived in the Valparaiso Chile bus terminal in the morning ready to set off to Argentina but quickly realized that the buses were all full and the rest had already left. Serves us right for not checking ahead! Instead, we elected to push on to a small town named Los Andes, which was en route to Mendoza about an hour from the Chilean-Argentina border crossing.
The town Los Andes was charming and everyone was very friendly (a common trait of most Chilean people we had encountered). We didn´t have a plan because it wasn't originally on the itinerary so we started into the city to find accommodations. After finally finding a couple locations and realizing they were VERY expensive we decided to try a few more. One key point in Los Andes is they don´t have very good signage, if any at all, so you can imagine it was hard to find the hostels. Cameron found a building that looked like a hostel and decided to ring the door bell. The man who answered welcomed us in and we found our rooms. Not very clean, not very nice, but they were cheap, and that was exactly what we were looking for! We strolled through the town and sampled the local pescado frito dish at a small streetside patio along a dusty road. Delicious!
The next day we set out to Mendoza and travelled through the spectacular Andean Mountain range. We arrived excited to try some of the outdoor activities in the coming days before having to say goodbye to Andrew and Nicola. We arrived in the same manor as usual, no reservations just an idea of where we would like to stay. We all booked our next bus tickets before leaving the bus terminal (we didn't want a repeat of the previous day) to find a hostel that was highly recommended by the tourist information booth. The hostel appeared to be what they had said but unfortunately it was full, just like the other 15 hostels and hotels we tried while scouring the city for accommodations! This was the first time on our trip that we actually felt very nervous that we may not find accomodations. Luckily, when we started to think we might have to either sleep in the bus terminal or stay at an extremely expensive hotel we found a room for 4 with a private bath. The reasning for this panic was that it was Easter long weekend in a predominatly Catholic region, and because we left no time to make hostel reservations. When we arrived to Mendoza we weren't totally shocked that it was difficult to find a place because of the holiday, but none of us thought it would be almost impossible.
Once settled into our hostel that was centrally located near the main square, there was only one thing to do; find a street patio and indulge in some steak and red wine! Argentina is known for great food so what better way for old friends to spend an evening together? Easter weekend proved to be far more of a challenge that we thought. Firsty, it was hard to find accommodations and second it was very hard to book the tours we wanted to do. Nothing seemed to be working with our schedule but after lots of debating we managed to get a winery tour but it was on Sunday, in the morning, and we only could see two wineries instead of the normal three. The tour was fun and we got to taste about six different wines. We enjoyed the second winery most, which was organic, and purchased a couple bottles of wine to share that evening at the hostel. But be careful when consuming red wine and walking across the streets of Mendoza at night as there are cement street dividers in the middle of the road that rise about an inch above ground. If you're not careful you may pull a Nichols and accidentally kick this cement divider so hard in your open toed flip flops tat it may cause your big toe to literally spit into two! Yep, only such a random incident could happen to Andrew.
The original goal for Mendoza was do go white water rafting, bike riding and wine tasting tours, and day hikes into the Andes, but unfortunately we only got to do the wine tasting due to our poor timing of arriving on a holiday weekend. That said, Mendoza was a great location for the four of us to relax, drink lots of wine, eat delicious food on bustling patios, and enjoy the warm sunny weather for days. After about 12 days together, it was time to say goodbye to Andrew and Nicola as they were starting their 3 month South American adventure and we were just about to wrap ours up. They headed east to Buenos Aires and we headed south-west back to Santiago before flying to the remote island paradise of Easter Island.