Nov 24, 2018
|A straight line on the map from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina is about 125 miles east. However, the driving distance is twice that distance due to the fact that you have to go over the Andes Mountains. It is about a five to six hour drive. The flight from one city to the other is only about 45 minutes. You barely get up before you are coming down. On a clear day the views are spectacular as you can imagine as the mountains always have glaciers.
Mendoza is the primary region in Argentina for Argentine wine. It is might be called the Napa Valley of South America. Our expectations as we crossed the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza, were to see green everywhere. Instead, all we saw was grey and brown. It was a desert for as far as the eye could see!
It was only as we approached Mendoza that we had the first glimpse of the green of vineyards. After that, green was all we saw in both vineyards and orchards until we came to the actual city.
As we spoke to people in Mendoza about the water supply, they told us that it comes from the runoff from the snow and melting glaciers of the Andes and that the Incas had developed a water capturing system that is still fundamentally used today, although with some improvements. One of the unique features of Mendoza as a result of this system is that there are deep gutters lined with stone throughout the city. In fact, you have to be careful when you walk, not to step into one.
Mendoza is a true colonial city with few modern buildings. It is a hot spot for tourists who enjoy visiting the bodegas (vineyards) or skiing in the Andes.
PARK HYATT MENDOZA
If you visit Mendoza, you must stay at the Park Hyatt. It is a beautiful historic building on the outside with a dramatic modernized interior. It is also right in the city center where you can walk to everything you should see in Mendoza.
The management team and staff were welcoming, friendly, and helpful in every way to make our stay so enjoyable and memorable.
Andres Alvarez, Assistant Front Desk Manager and Leandro Livschitz, General Manager
Occupying the city’s geographical center is Plaza Independencia. Shaded by sycamore trees, it hosts concerts and craft fairs.
Surrounding the Plaza
Lighted at night
THE FOUR PLAZAS
Two city blocks from each corner of Plaza Independencia is a smaller plaza. The four plazas are Plaza San Martin, Plaza Espana, Plaza Italia, and Plaza Chile.
Plaza San Martin
José de San Martín, the liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru, was a Spanish-Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern and central parts of South America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire.
Bernardo O'Higgins was a Chilean independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. He was a wealthy landowner of Spanish and Irish ancestry. He is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state.
GOVERNMENT CENTER OF MENDOZA PROVINCE
Mendoza is the capital of the Province of Mendoza. About a mile from the Park Hyatt Mendoza is the center of government for the state in which Mendoza is located.
Government Building of Mendoza Province
Government staff who were very helpful to us during our visit
We met with Lisandro Nieri, Minister of Government. With Harman’s academic qualifications and brief experience/practice in politics was exceptionally valuable throughout his professional life in sales and marketing both in the United Kingdom and United States, he and Lisandro shared their thoughts on improving and enhancing Mendoza’s wine industry and introduce mining development in the region.
Us with a photograph of the President of Argentina
Supreme Court of Mendoza Province
We had the exceptional opportunity to meet with Dr. Mario Daniel Adaro, Supreme Court Judge.
To our surprise and delight, he sent a book, “Miradas de Mendoza Coleccion”, a collection of beautiful photographs of Mendoza, to us at our hotel with a personal note.
Legislature of Mendoza Province
Luciano Romero, Personal Assistant to the Vice-Governor of Mendoza, gave us a private tour of the Legislature of Mendoza and told us about the fascinating history of how the independence of Argentina from Spain was won.
The Arch of Peace
Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers
The water in the fountain was red, signifying blood, when we were there as it was a special remembrance day to the fallen soldiers.
Basilica de San Francisco
San Martin Park
Flowers in the park
Celebrated national artist
If you visit Mendoza, it is a must to tour some of the vineyards. There are organized tours where you will visit three to four vineyards with wine tasting, perhaps lunch. On our previous visit to Mendoza in 2012, the hotel arranged for a private tour car and driver.
The drive to the vineyards had spectacular views of the Andes.
As we approached the entrance to the vineyards, there were homes of the vineyard workers.
With the help of the concierge, Jessica Rojo Savard, we selected three very different vineyards.
The pyramid structure of Catena Zapata makes it Mendoza’s most attention grabbing vineyard.
Caelum is a small start-up vineyard owned a mother and her daughter and son. We met the daughter, Constanza Pimentel, and son, who were both so very charming and welcoming.
Cavas Wine Lodge
If you could visit only one vineyard, it would have to be Cavas Wine Lodge. It is part of the Relais & Chateau group that has unique five star properties all over the world.
The main building is traditional Spanish colonial style
Sebastian Velez Romero, Manager, gave us the grand tour of the property.
The hotel lobby, restaurant, pool, and spa are located in the main building
The unique lodgings are about a dozen adobe pueblo style individual accommodations spread throughout the vineyard.
View from the main building to the vineyard and the Andes Mountains beyond.
The chef who prepared our delicious lunch
We finished our visit with lunch on the terrace of Cavas Wine Lodge (with the mascot looking on), drinking Argentine wine, and a view to the vineyard and Andes Mountains beyond. Pure Nirvana!