|We hadn't booked any hostel in advance and had to look around as a lot were already full. Managed to find a place called Hostel Conferencia on av. espana. It is a nice place and is very sociable. The rooms are clean and we get fresh towels every day !!!
Mendoza is a lovely town. We decided to have some Rest and relaxation in this town so we have been trying the good wines, sampling the amazing food and going on the odd tour as well.
All of the streets are tree lined and although it is very hot it is very pleasant just to wander around the town. There are lots of plaza's and a lovely big park in which Nick got very sunburnt in ! The main plaza is Independencia. It is a large square where there are arts and craft stalls and people just mill around and enjoy life. We also got to see a circus act there which was for the kids but was quite cool all the same !!!!
We have had some great food in Mendoza. We went to a great little place for pasta. All home made sauces with a huge selection and really cheap (restaurant 390). We also went to a restaurant called 1884. It was voted the 7th best restaurant in the world by restaurant magazine so we had to try it ! The location was in a winery and there was a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The starters were really good and we chose the 'Bifsteca' for two as our main course. When it came it was a massive piece of steak on the rib (pictures attached !). We really enjoyed the food and thought it was a good restaurant even though it was quite expensive for backpackers (about 13 pounds each). Unfortunately some of the guys we went with had the lamb and it was very dry and bland so their experience was not as good.
Our favourite restaurant was Azafran. You get to select your own wine from a huge wine cellar. It took ages to select one as there are so many to go through and we have really no idea which wines are good !!!! All the wines are good though, as Mendoza is the wine growing capital of Argentina. All the food that we ate in Azafran was delicious and it was so varied that we could probably go back there again and again !
As we were in the wine capital we had to do some wineries (Bodegas). We selected two, one an industrial wine maker called La Rural and one a family run business called Familia de Tommaso. La Rural had a good wine museum but there were only two wines to taste and it was all a bit impersonal. Familia de Tommaso was a small operation where the family carry out all the tasks by hand. Everything is as organic as possible and one of the sisters gave us a tour explaining all of the different processes. She was very passionate about the whole process and explained how they filled the bottles by pouring the wine down the sides of the bottles so that the wine can get adjusted to the bottle, and why they use proper corks only and how they decide whether the wine should be bottled immediately or whether it should be laid down to rest. They were basically saying that the wine has a life of it's own and needs to be treated very carefully to get the best out of it !
It was an excellent tour and at the end we were allowed to taste as many wines as we wanted ! She even taught us how to taste wines properly and what to look for ! We came away with four bottles to carry with us to Salta (or drink on the way ?!).
Our only tour was to the high mountains. It was a long bus journey but well worth it. We got to see a naturally formed bridge made out of some kind of crystal rocks as well as thermal baths. We got a view of the highest mountain outside of Asia, Aconcagua (6950m). It is also one of the most climable and takes 21 days to trekk to the top, something we are considering for a future holiday ! (need to be a bit fitter first !)
There were also lots of other high mountains that we passed through. We took the bus to a dizzy height of 4000m where there is the highest monument in the world (or so they say ?!) which is on the border of Chile and Argentina. It is possible to freely walk between the two.
In our other spare time we drank more wine in the hostel. We met a good bunch of people in the hostel and had some late nights drinking with them.
By the way, Monica now loves red wine. It has taken great Argentinian reds to persuade her and she is now even starting to tell the difference between the Malbecs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots that we are drinking !