Or so we are told. We’ve had glimpses of the Andes so far but not a full view.
We arrived this morning in Mendoza after a really long day of travel. We caught the 11 AM ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires where we hung around for an afternoon until our 840 bus to Mendoza, arriving here at 10 this morning.
We had booked a first class suite on the bus since it was only ten dollars more than the regular class. It was pretty nice, for a bus, and definitely worth the extra money. We had a hot meal as the trip got underway and something they call breakfast in the morning. The seats were equipped with a blanket, pillow and an on-demand personal entertainment systems with all the movies you wouldn’t pay money to see but might if it was free and you wouldn’t mind falling asleep while watching. And the seat back reclines to about 170 degrees, which is about what my recliner does when I fall asleep at night, ten minutes or so after I tell Paula I’ll be coming to bed in a few minutes. I always wake up in an hour, usually with a headache and wishing I’d actually gone to bed after brusing my teeth. That is sort of how I slept in the bus, having missed the end of a movie I’ll never see again and in a place with a bathroom where you wouldn’t want to take your toothbrush. Which is not a problem if you accidentally left your toothbrush in your checked luggage. Other than that, it was fine. I turned on an audiobook and slept through a few chapters, so I really wasn’t very tired today.
We spent the day walking. Our hotel was not ready for us, which we expected, so we dropped off our bags and followed the desk attendent’s direcctions to a wonderful cafe for brunch. It was quite good.
We then took a to hour a walk through the western part of the city. Mendoza is the fourth largest city in Argentina, with a population of about 850,000 in the metropolitan area. That’s about one order of magnitude smaller than Buenos Aires, and it definitely feels smaller. It is a very pleasant city to walk in, if you don’t mind broken up sidewalks. The interlacing of old and new architectural styles and building methods gives plenty of visual treats. Mature trees line both sides of the streets resulting in comfortable shady oases to provide relief from the hot sun.
After checking in and freshening up a bit and then walked back to the bus station to buy tickets for our upcoming trip to Cordoba that we could not purchase on line for some reason. After having experienced the organized chaos in the Buenos Aires terminal last night, the Mendoza terminal reminded us of differences in the two cities.
A network of canals moves lots of water through the city. They line the streets, passing underground here and there. I have not yet found an explanation regarding the source of the water, but I intend to learn more about it during the next few days.
We wanted to watch the sun set over the Andes and decided we would walk to the Cerro de la Gloria, a high point at the westerm edge of the city in General San Martin State Park. I checked with Mr. Google, and saw it was about a forty five minute walk, so we headed out quite a bit earlier than necessary to be there for sunset. Unfortunately Mr. Google’s information was probably gleaned from the internet, and after about ninety minutes, as the sun was setting, we were still very far from getting to the top of the hill.
With tears in our eyes we headed back to town, stopping only for a fabulous meal, and committed to starting earlier tomorrow. Possibly, we thought, it might be appropriate to try one of the many buses that passed us along the way.
It wasn’t a wasted trip, though. The state park is really beautiful. There were thousands or runners, walkers and bicyclers enjoying the late afternoon in the park. None of them made appearance in these photos.
On the way back to our hotel around midnight we passed the Plaza Independencia, the main city square, for a nightime view of the flourescent expression of community pride.
On the way home we spotted a tall hotel with a rooftop restaurant and immediately amended our sunset plans and will now watch from the fifteenth floor, possibly with a glass of local wine.
Our other plan for tomorrow is to take the light rail to Maipu and tour wineries by bicycle. I am pondering whether that is another of those adventures that fare better in the planning than the execution. It is supposed to be somewhere near 90 degrees tomorrow, which isn’t particularly good bicycling conditions, as far as I am concerned, and after a glass of wine or two we might have second thoughts when it is too late to act on them. I’m trying to keep an open mind about it, regardless of what you are reading between the lines.