Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mendoza, Argentina 30 Dec 2011-2 Jan 2012

Mendoza is 2.5 hours from San Juan. Two of the main industries of Mendoza area are olive oil production and wine.  The city is a frequent stopover for climbers on their way to Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere) and for adventure travellers interested in mountaineering, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and other sports. In the winter, skiers come to the city for its easy access to the Andes.
We were welcomed by Tachi’s family. We will be celebrating New Year with them and some of their friends.  They have a big house with a garden at the back and a cat. :-) The weather in Mendoza is hot and dry. We didn’t do much on the 30th Dec, only visited Tachi’s sister house at night. In Argentina, Christmas and New Year are celebrated with the family. Most of the clubs are closed on the New Year eve. So don’t think of having a blast in Argentina!

On the New Year eve, is another day of doing nothing. As their house is far away from the center, I could not go anywhere. So I spent my time compiling a year end video and watched a movie. In the evening, we started to prepare for dinner, we will be making Asado which means BBQ. The meat in Argentina is the best in the world. What can be better than Asado for New Year eve! We had beef, ribs and sausage BBQ, empanadas, melon with ham, salad and lots of wine and champagne. Dinner started around 10pm and lasted thru midnight where everyone cheers for the New Year 2012. Fireworks lights up the sky and break the silence of the night. We continued to have our dessert and more drink in the garden till late.

On the first day 2012, Juan went back to San Juan, we had to say good bye. :-( It has been an amazing week celebrating Christmas and New Year together. I moved to the hostel in the center so I could walk around and see a bit of the city. I checked into this hostel just 50m from the Plaza Independencia. The hostel was quiet, think it was the effect of too much drinking and partying the night before. I heard from some of the travelers that nothing was open on the New Year Eve, they have no place to party except in the Hostel. Phew! I was glad and lucky to be with a family. It was even hard to find a place to eat on the 1 Jan. The town is dead, you can dance or sleep on the road, no cars will hit you. I got my trip to High Mountain booked for the 2 Jan and my bus ticket to Santiago booked for the night as well.

High Mountain excursion passes by an incredible landscape along the Mendoza River, as far as border with Chile. The first stop was at the Potresillos dam, a quick stop for photo. A couple of other stops later we reached the Inca Bridge. The Las Cuevas River has carved the mountain forming a natural bridge above it. Why is it called the Inca Bridge? Inca people used to cross this bridge on their path. :-) An old Hot Spring Hotel which was destroyed sitting next to the bridge used to provide free 30mins bath for all tourist but today, the access to the bridge is prohibited, due to some scientist study that believe the bridge is collapsing. So tourists are not allowed to cross but the local still use it to access the hot spring! :-(

We reached the final destination which is the Aconcagua Park. The mountain was covered with snow. From the park is the starting point to hike the 6,962m high mountain, the highest in America. It is considered one of the easier climb of the Seven Summits from technicality perspective because the northern route does not absolutely require ropes, axes, and pins. But I am not going to climb this mountain, we made a 2 hours trek in the park till the hanging bridge. There park was cover with colorful flowers. We had the spectacular view of Mount Aconcagua from all corners. I took pictures after pictures. Breathtaking! :-(
Back to the hostel around 7pm, I got freshen up to catch the 7 hours bus to Santiago de Chile. :-( 

Tachi’s house
Campo Base Hostel– A45 for 9 in a share room with air condition, breakfast and Wifi

Taxi from Terminal to Tachi’s house – A25
Bus from Mendoza to Santiago de Chile – A190
Taxi from Hostel to Terminal – A10

High Mountain Excursion – A190

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