Mendoza is the capital city of the province of Mendoza, which is uniquely characteristic for its large squares, wide streets and canal-like trenches. We had four nights here and made two day-trips to see the wine region and Andes Mountains.
THE ARGENTINA WINE ROUTE
With a name like “Mendoza” and a reputation for being a wine capital of the world, we couldn’t help but conjure up mental images of rolling hills and tranquil vineyards (maybe because we lived so close to Napa Valley). We took a public bus to the town of Maipu and rented bikes from Mr. Hugo to sample a handful of the hundreds of wineries along the Argentina Wine Route. Initially, though, the reality was a tad different from our expectations. Instead of beautiful rolling hills, we got flat roads—mostly in what felt like a rural California suburb—alongside the busy traffic of cars and freight trucks.
The experience was enjoyable, nevertheless, and a very affordable excursion. Small group tours of this region start at $175US per person, but doing it on our own ended up costing less than $50 combined, including a delicious steak lunch at Tempus Alba. The farthest distance we biked was only about a half hour away. It’s actually out here, where we took the postcard picture, that you feel like you’ve reached wine country. So unless you are a serious wine connoisseur or have specific wineries to visit in mind, a self-guided bike tour is a great option.
THE ANDES MOUNTAINS
Another highlight of our time in Mendoza was taking an organized tour through the Andes Mountains. We don’t book tours often, but we didn’t want to limit ourselves to the city. Although we would soon again take the same road to get to Santiago, with a tour we at least had opportunities to step outside and soak in the spectacular mountain scenery.
Mendoza makes for a great stopover, especially if you’re traveling by land between Argentina and Chile. At this point, a city is just a city to us, but like Cordoba, the best part was exploring the surrounding areas. Allot three to four days, and you’ll have more than enough time.