Gem and Lob's Big Adventure
Mendoza The first thing we noticed when we arrived in Mendoza was that it was A LOT colder than it had been in Cordoba. So we set off to have an explore of the city and to buy big fleecey jumpers. We got about as far as the first corner when we saw a poster for a match between Independiente Rivadavia, the local side, and the famous River Plate, that day. So off we marched (stopping for directions and a wooly hat) to the football ground. It was a bit manic but we managed to get ourselves tickets, seats and a hot dog. Did we mention we were on our way to buy jumpers when we took this little detour? We were cold! SO cold! It was luckily an entertaining match, with River Plate winning 3-1, and luckier still we managed to get a taxi back to the hostel afterwards, but the next morning we were out trying on big fleecey jumpers like the best of them! When in Mendoza, it is almost compulsory to partake of some wine, so being good travellers (and now fitted out with some nice warm clothes) we took up the task with gusto, taking in no less than 3 bodegas (wineries to you and me), and an olive oil factory - which was suprisingly interesting. The bodegas themselves were pretty, with the best bit of course being the tasting at the end, and getting taught how to do it properly, making us quite the glass swirling experts these days... Once we'd sobered up a couple of days later we decided to go on a bus trip into the Andes to see some scenery, snow and a thing called the Puente del Inca, or Inca's Bridge, which is a naturally formed stone bridge over a stream in the mountains. It's also one of the places where thermal water comes out of the mountains, and there was a hotel built into it, though it's long gone now. The day was fun, mostly spent gasping at the amazing scenery, but with a little time set aside for a big ol snowball fight! We also took the opportunity to buy Alpaca jumpers (as Lisa can be seen modelling), which was very exciting, though it seems that Gem is actually allergic to hers and so hasn't been able to wear it since! For the next day or so we decided it would be best to stick to the nice, low, flat land of Mendoza city, although it turns out the land in Mendoza city isn't quite so reliable as you would think... we spent a day wandering around the city among the pretty squares and fountains (strange, as Mendoza has a shortage of water, and virtually NO rainfall whatsoever), and came to the old town square, which contains ruins of the only building left standing after the big earthquake in the late 1800s. Scary. Later we went to the modern art museum, which just happens to be in the city's earthquake bunker in the centre of town. We were starting to get a little concerned. And then it happened. The earth moved. On Saturday morning, with Gem in an internet cafe and Lisa in bed, a tremor of 5.7 on the richter scale hit the city, the strongest for 20 years! It was fine actually, nothing fell down, nobody was hurt, and the people were going about their business like nothing had happened within minutes! We were pretty freaked out though. After the earthquake stress, and too many nights in bunk beds, we decided that the best thing to do was to de-stress in a luxurious spa in the Andes - as you do. The location was amazing, set among the smaller mountains we were expecting it to be nothing much, but it was beautiful. You could see the peaks for a long way, and there was a river, it was stunning. The pictures, although pretty can't do it justice. Sooo, the first thing we did when we entered the spa was to shun the people going trekking (really!) and book a massage. It was quite an intense affair, definitely getting rid of all the knots built up by mammoth bus journeys and backpack carrying. We then moved onto the spa. After a relaxation pool and a hydro massage, we were brought to the grotto, which is essentially a naturally occuring steam room, an underground cave. Next was "fango" - which is basically a clay/mud mask, great fun as you can see from the pictures. So then to lounging about in natural thermal springs outside in the mountains! It was brilliant because it was so cold outside, so it was really nice being in warm water (like a hot bath warm)....and you just stay there till you get bored. It was such a lovely day and prepared us beautifully for the next overnight bus journey...