Pardon our lack of posting, we are in the middle of nowhere with horrible wifi but we think of you all often! We are also uploading everything from a phone so it is sure to be a mess.
Mendoza was the perfect transition from a month of traveling with others to flying solo. After leaving Lima, we flew to Santiago, Chile where we had around 8 hours to kill before catching our overnight bus to Mendoza. The only attractions near the Santiago bus terminal are shady casinos and a giant shopping mall—we chose to spend our afternoon at the mall. Here are some things that happened during that time:
We ate KFC on the mall’s rooftop overlooking the city.
A couple sitting next to us took PDA (public display of affection) to a new level, intimately caressing each other while the boyfriend drank his beer and looked at his phone with headphones in.
Another rooftop group was having a birthday party during which they smuggled in their own refreshments (6-pack included), hung a Chilean flag on a bush, and started posing next to a picture of Luis Miguel they brought with them. We later did some investigating and found out that this was actually a pregame for a Luis Miguel concert. Who pre-games at the mall? Apparently Chilean Luis Miguel fans do. They were eventually 'kicked out’ by security, but they just kept on partying.
We decided to kill a couple of hours by buying beers at the food court, pouring them into water bottles and smuggling them into the movie theater so we could catch a Spanish-dubbed viewing of Los Juegos del Hambre (The Hunger Games). Neither of us knows anything about The Hunger Games movies, which wasn’t helped by the fact that we arrived 20 minutes late for the movie, had to leave early and it was the final film in a series of four. Oh and did we mention it was in Spanish? What happened between Catniss and Peeta? We couldn’t really tell you considering we mostly made up the plot based on what little we understood and a lot of creativity.
Surprisingly enough, we made it to our bus on time and were crossing the Argentinian border by 1am. That was where the efficiency ended. Crossing the border took about 2 hours, during which we made fun of the idiots who didn’t bring warm clothing to stand outside the border in the Andes in the middle of the night. Just kidding, we were those idiots. Everyone else was warm while we huddled together in t-shirts under one shared raincoat. As they say, you live and you learn and sometimes you freeze along the way.
Day 1 in Mendoza: We slept for 2 hours, and then hopped on a bus out to Maipú (pronounced my-poo) for an afternoon biking through vineyards. It was amazing; we love wine and will tolerate exercise to drink it. But really, the countryside was absolutely stunning and the weather was glorious.
We spent that evening in the courtyard at our awesome hostel, Punto Urbano, drinking wine, meeting new people and exchanging crazy travel stories. It’s unbelievable how much you can have in common with people you barely know and only overlap with for a short period of time. Somehow in the moments we spent getting to know people at our hostel, we connected with them and had so many shared experiences of traveling despite being from entirely different places and backgrounds. It’s truly wonderful to be able to sit around a table with complete strangers in a strange place and yet feel so at home.
Day 2: We weaseled our way into a rafting trip with a friend we met at the hostel and drove out of the city towards the mountains for the day. The trip guides had a pretty chill set up of a wooden cabin set up with deck chairs and plenty of spots for basking in the sun, wedged between a river and giant mountains. We white water rafted through the icy glacial river in the morning, and after a lunch and sun-bathing break, we hiked up a treacherous rocky path to repel down a rock face. Lauren almost fell to her death several times but managed some impressive saves, one of which included grabbing onto a cactus for support.
It was a full day of activities and we worked up an appetite, which was definitely a good thing since we had dinner booked that night at Francis Mallmann’s restaurant in Mendoza. Mallmann was featured on Netflix’s series Chef’s Table in our favorite episode. It’s difficult to describe how insane his cooking is, so we can only recommend that you watch it for yourself. The food was of the best we’ve ever had and our meal included a trip down to the wine cave with the sommelier to pick our wine for the evening. We ate:
Grilled pear with burrata cheese and crispy bacon crumbs
Slow-cooked pork ribs that melted off the bone and tasted like candy
Grilled rib eye steak with domino potatoes
“Chocolate for fanatics,” a tasting of their three best chocolate desserts
Overall, the meal was overwhelmingly deliciously superb. There are no pictures that do it justice, so do yourself a favor and watch the show on Netflix.
Day 3: What perfect way to finish up our time in Mendoza? A trip to the hot springs of course! We had the most beautiful, relaxing time at the hot springs outside of the city. Surrounded by mountains, the hot springs are a series of natural pools of different temperatures. We spent that evening with new friends from the hostel and had a hoot and a half rolling through the city with one of the most odd-ball gangs ever, ending the night eating late-night French fries and hamburgers from the only place that was open. For those considering traveling to Mendoza in the future, give Mr. Dog’s a hard miss.
Mendoza was the perfect, relaxing and friendly way to start the next part of our trip: The Backpacking Phase.