A Travellerspoint blog

Dorm living and Panic at the bus Station

Mendoza to Argentina by bus after a few hick-ups

Well I after watching countless College Flicks and Big brother episodes We finally experienced Living in a mixed Dorm last night. This was not our first choice but as we decided late to stay two nights in Mendoza it was our only option. It was not all that bad actually, well for me anyway as I woke to the sight of a semi-Nude free spirited American lass who was on the bottom bunk of Harsh´s bed, Damn wish I had a photo to share.

After that morning excitement we set off for the park in Mendoza, A beautiful setting situated a few Kilometers from the town centre. The locals are definitely more health conscious here there was quite a few joggers, cyclist and even a few chin up bars and open air equipment. So we had a quick session in preparation for Rio and returned back to the hostel for breakfast with an intention to explore more of the park later in the afternoon before we departed for the capitol. That plan however failed as soon as we got back to the hostel. Yes we had a few issues with our bus tickets, no its not what your thinking it was not the south American bus company. The problem was related to accessing my online ticket which I had saved on my email. No the issue was not with my optusnet account. One of my Prent`s who shall remain nameless(not dad) had accidentally downloaded all my mails to the home PC. So there was a bit of panic, a quick phone call to Australia where it was 3am their time and we managed to retrieve the bookings and print them on time. What this meant was we did not get to explore the rest of the park and it`s lake but we did instead tried out an argentine Buffet. The one where we saw about 30 People queued up for last night. All I can say if beef, beef, and more beef with a side of meat. It was fantastic, almost as fantastic as the incredibly comfortable seats we had on the bus to Buenos Aeries.

Yes, we went with Tramat and affiliate of Andes mar the company we used to get to Mendoza. They were great the seats were like business class. We slept for about 13 of the fifteen hour bus ride. What a smooth ride, only one hick-up, the bus took off on me at a pit stop. I was mucking around waving Harsh goodbye like a local through the window from outside, when I noticed the bus physically disembarking to the terminal. I had to run to the front to get the drivers attention and luckily got back on. I told you these guy`s were punctual.

Posted by HonestAnth 20:39 Archived in Argentina Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Wineries in Mendoza

Valentine´s day and Bike tour drama with Anto

Okay so its valentine´s day and we started our morning in the hurry of checking out as we didnt have reservations for another day in Álamo. I spent about an hour looking for other options to stay in Mendoza as we hád to leave the next day. We wanted to do this bike tour to the wineries. Yes it s true, these people had a bike tour to go to the wineries. We could not even imagine of something like that in Austrália. The add posters had caught our attention the night before. When Anth was inquring about the lockers to leave our backpacks, he inquired about these tours and luckily there were 2 spots left. So we decided to grab that opportunity and decided to stay the night in the dorm. I had no experience of living in the dorm in the past so was a bit wierd cse I didnt like the idea of the shared bathrooms and toilets but that was the best option at that time, as the pick up bus to take us to the bike hire spot was about to leave.

We walked in the dorm of 6 bunk beds with a view of two people sleeping. A man whose face we couldnt see and an american girl, we could see a lot of, a bit tôo much actually. Anthony was contemplating on staying in the dorm and resting after that view.

So we got into this mini bus which dropped us to our bike hire company called bikesandwines. As usual, Anto couldnt decide choosing a bike and took about ten minutes in choosing a bike. Jumped on to one which was a red and black mountain bike but then saw me picking a yellow bike which looked better so had to go with another yellow.

Anyway so we started our journey with a map and we could have gone to visit 11 wineries which were on the map. So we went to the 1st one all psyched and got so excited that we went in parked our bikes when a man was yelling at us in Spanish. We were wondering what is wrong with him but then realised he was trying to tell us that the winery was closed. So that was the first one. Thinking that its ok we have 9 more wineries to visit; we were informed that the second one was closed. We hopped on our bikes and decided to go to winery no. 11 as we had seen everyone else but us had gone that way anyway. The roads to get to these wineries were pretty bad. I wasnt sure how were we going to come back after the wine tastings. The morning had been pretty smooth no dramas at all, actually were lucky to get the last 2 spots on the tour without any prior booking. Anto got a bit tôo excited and was going pretty fast pace and all of a sudden his bike´s back tyre burst. At first I thought it was a gun shot. He still maintained his balance or that would have been an accident for sure. So we got on to the side of the road and waited. Anto wasnt happy making a call to these people from his phone but he did and people told him that, there would be someone coming to help in a few minutes. The few minutes turned into half an hour , an hour, an hour and a half. . Anto was ready to go off at the person who was going to come with the bike. After almost 2 hours and 4 phone calls an old man arrived with a new bike. Seeing that all we could do is laugh.
I was just glad that the drama wasnt caused or had anything to do with me.

Anyway after getting his new bike we started our ride again by this time it had been almost 4 hours on the road and we had not visited one winery. We were so buggered and hungry that we decided to go and eat first. We went to this place cant really remember the name of the place, but it wasnt a winery. The place looked like a restruant in the middle of a fruit produce, garden looking place. The meal was the highlight of the day. It was supposed to be this platter, which started with 5 amazing different dips and some nice bread for starters . Then the main platter came out which consisted of carne (beef)skewer, pork sauceges, bacon slice with some amazing garlic chutney, rabbit something, minced chicken with black olive chutney, a drink which was tomato puree and boiled egg, salmon, cheeses. I am sure I am missing something. For dessert there was fresh pomegrenate creme brulee which was the da bomb and some Melbac red wine.

We totally forgot of the drama we had been through with the whole bike and not been able to see any wineries. After having a lavish lunch and relaxing for about 2 hours and a bottle of red, we decided to atleast see one winery before we made our way back. The bike ride had become a bit shaky after the red wine but we were cautious. We got to this winery in the Maipu área. We were excited that finally we were going to a winery and do some tasting. Wine tasting here was different to any wineries that I have in OZ. You get full glasses of wines to taste.Offcourse there is a cost. We paid 25 pesos (under $15 AUD) for 4 glasses of wines o four choice. We got a chardonnay, 2 Melbacs and a red I cant rem what it was,but it was good. My personal favourite was a matured Melbac we had and the Chardonnay. I think Anto preffered the same as me. I am sure when we get back to OZ I will drink on Melbac from now.I think I found my red wine.

After having our 4 glasses we made our way back to the hire place. As exciting it was on the bikes I think the best way to do wine tasting is by car. When Anto was speaking to the guy over the phone he was promised a discount for the inconviniance before. The people were good at the place, they charged only for one person ie 45 pesos and gave us a voucher of 45 pesos to encash at the hostel.

So that was our trip to the wineries in Mendoza.

Looking forward to the bus ride to B.A tommorrow.

Goodnite !!

Posted by Harshu 20:01 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Santiago to Mendoza Via the Andes

Sweeping views and Long border delays

Well sadly today we had to say good bye to our home away from home, Bellavista. Chile has been most welcoming and a perfect introduction to the South American culture.

The morning started off with a few happy snaps of the gimnasio I have been frequenting and a quick bite to eat. I will miss John my squatting buddy and the lack of ventilation on the main floor and that mix of buns and jam.

Well no time to waste there was a bus to catch to Mendoza, a quick inventory check, all clear and we were off to the bus station. We finally figured out it was the same bus station we caught yesterday to Vina Delmar, thanks to the Spanish lad at the Hostel reception.

Armed with backpacks with walked briskly to the Metro station, confidently requesting. Dos, University de Santiago ida par favore. Yes it is broken Spanish but the message was clear as we got the correct to the bus terminal on time.

I can’t stress enough how organised and punctual the coach travel here is, the Andesmar company we took were fantastic. Our seats and view unbeatable, front row, on the top deck. There is no better way to travel from Santiago to Mendoza as we progressed through our journey the sweeping views of the Andes got more spectacular. It was a photographers dream with never ending Panorama. It was the most amazing sight we had seen to date, the dry terrain of the Chilean Andes provided a great prelude to the tinge of green encountered on the argentine side. The climb was steep but steady, though at times the driver was toying with us as he came perilously close to the mountains edge.
Everything about the journey was smooth accept for the border crossing, Which took two and a half hours mainly due to the number of buses crossing at once and offcourse Shetty´s Indian passport which caused yet another flutter in my cardiac system. Yes offcourse I passed through smoothly, yet for reasons still unbeknown to us there was a delay of 15 minutes for Shetty. That a side the ride was amazing, I will post photos but it won`t do it justice I think.

Later that day we checked into Hostel Alamo and once again we got lucky with the standard of accommodation. The Hostel was equipped with a pool and large courtyard, and friendly guests, we decided to have a quite bite to eat at a local restaurant by the name of La Florencia. It was hard to resist the succulent hanging chunks of Argentina´s finest beef, which was easily viewed through the totally transparent kitchen window which was visible from the street. Even Harsh was tempted to sample the Carne`

Posted by HonestAnth 20:17 Archived in Argentina Tagged bus Comments (0)

Santiago day 3

Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar

After a crazy long walk in the city we tried to have an early night as we wanted to go to
Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar the next day, we still ended up eating at 12.30 ish in the
morning and went to bed at 1.30 am.

The next day we were supposed to leave the hostel at about 7.30 am but as all of us were so
tired from the early night had yesterday,we left at 9ish. Like Anto mentioned before the city didnt look busy at all,which wassurprising.

Anyway we got to the train station and our poor unpaid bilingual translator Ivan asked for the
right tickets. We had to get to this train station to catch our bus to Valparaiso which was
a just under 2 hours journey. All of us slept like babies the whole way. Oh no I almost forgot to mention,
on our way there were these massive billboards of lingerie models in the middle of massive
mountains which was wierd and both Ivan and Anto had not really got any talent in Santiago
city, were trying to take shots of these indiviual models but, were missing it by that much! (my get smart comment). In the end, there was a massive billboard with all 3 and My Gosh it was amazing the way their eyes caught it from far and both were ready to click the shot.Both were half dead before this.

Moving on, we got to Valparaiso, and as we got off the bus, there was this promotion girl for a
tourism company trying to get us to buy this traip around Valparaiso. Anth and I got out of
the bus first and we didnt really fall for it, yes not even Anth. But then Ivan was the poor
victim and got dragged to the office and had to listen to the offer.

Anyway after wasting about 10 mins there, we were on our way to the Port where we were
expecting to see some Naval ships and were werent disappointed. We had
lunch at this place which was literally on the port. Both boys who werent into Steaks all this time, had
fish with me. This was first great meal in Chile. And of course there had to be Pisco Soursto go with it.
I got a Mango Sour as Piscos were a bit too strong for me.
After a great lunch we started walking into these small streets through this hill and
then hopped on a tram looking service to go to the top of this hill (not sure if this hill hás a name). Once we got to there, we walked around in the market full of souveniers. Walking down the streets of this hill was so
amazing, just the different colours on the houses and the paintings on the walls was breath taking.

After we got off the hill we made our way to Vina Del Mar via train where the beaches were. I loved the train ride on the way it was just on the coastline so the view was just great. After we got off the station we walked for about 15-20 minutes to make our way to the beach. We expected a bit of crowd as it was pretty warmish day. But to our surprise the beach was absolutely packed. The boys didnt know what to do and where to look. I thought melbourne´s water is cold to get in, the water here so cold that I had a brain freeze as it touched my toes. Ivan and I werent feeling that well so we decided not to go in. Anto was pretty excited to get into the water but backed off aswell. Saying that even if the water was tôo cold for us to get in, the beach was pretty scenic.

We then took a walk on the beach to see what was going on.There was nothing really appealing, 3 days, 3 different spots of Chile and the story was the same, the guys were pretty disappointing,hope its gets better in Argentina and Brazil. As far as the hunka meter góes Chile got a 4.5/10 (massive disappointment).

Anyway we left the beach were on and we were getting on the other side of Vina De Mar, a beach that Ivan´s friend hád suggessted to visit. By now we had already walked for about 3 hours.We did see some good spots and took photos on our way to the other beachv,dont really have specific names for these places. Although, one good spot was this castle looking building called Wulff Castle. Its a museum, hás a collection of items reflecting the history of Vina. We also saw some expensive homes on the coasts of Vina.

It hád got very hot and late by the time we reached this other beach Playa Acapulco. There were some crazy apartment buildings which would have a great view of this beach.

We decided to leave soonish, all of us were pretty tired and had to get to the bus station to get back to Santiago.
I actually didnt realise how long of a walk it was going to be, to get to the bus station. I was told its not too far.
I was not happy. We must have walked atleast 2 hours. As I was getting really bitchy about the long walk, Anto tried to trick me into looking that these clothes from a distance said we can take a bit of a breather in there.As we got closer we realise that it was an international market with things from all over South América and a bit from Carribbean. It was a good experince. After the breather we walked and walked and walked again. As we were getting closer to the bus stop Ivan decided to buy a Empanada. Anto and I thought, once we would get to Santiago we would have dinner so didnt get anything. But as we got into the bus we got so hungry, had to stare at Ivan and his Empanada till we fell asleep.

The bus ride was pretty smooth got to Sanitago at about 10.30 ish and took connecting train to take us to our Hostel. By this time it was pretty late but we decided to have bite so we ended sharing a savoury and desert crepe. It was Ivan´s turn to stare.

All in all we had a great day trip to Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar and looking forward to this scenic bus ride to Mendoza,Argentina tommorrow. All the best to Ivan, our first new friend in South América, who was leaving for Colômbia the next day.

Good Nite !!

Posted by Harshu 20:38 Archived in Chile Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Santiago day 2

The city, sights and Pisco sour

View South America on HonestAnth's travel map.

Day two in santiago began with a familiar situation to home, me going out for a morning run and Harsh sleeping in. Not surprisingly the city was like a ghost town at 8.30 am, must be all that mid week partying.

After a mediocre breakfast, buns and blueberry jam, myself, Harsh and our new columbian friend Ivan decided to venture into the city of santiago on foot armed with a map and the lonelyplanet. We had in mind seeing the various plaza´s finding the central market which was highly recommended by a friend of Ivan´s and another local lady who scammed me for 350 pesos the day before. Okay doen´t be distressed that´s the equivalent of $1aud.


Well I must say we were impressed with the Plaza de Armas and Santiago´s infrustructure. The highlights were climbing Santa lucia hill in the middle of the city and seeing the city in panarama and a snow capped mountain, also stumbling on Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Harsh rates this as the best church she has ever seen, I tend to agree with her it was majestic and showed off all the wealth of the church with elaborate architecture and art work. Yes I admit it was even more impressive than St Mary´s Bambalapitiya, only just.
Well all the sight seeing was making us hungry so off we went in search of the central market. Walking, walking walking, there it was finally in a dodgey area of town. Not a sign of a single gringo, at last we thought we were going to sample some latin american delicousies. However much to our dismay the market was nothing more than a much dirty version of Vicmarket minus any cooked food. Yes only produce, scammed again. Damn our stomachs were by now screaming, however Shetty was suprisingly subdued and well behaved, must have been due to the presence of Ivan the columbian casanova. We eventually settle for a small cafe near bellavista, nothing special, dodgy salmon and average Lomo(steak) but the cafe was responsible for giving us our first taste of Pisco sour. I can feel the heart burn just writing about it. In fact Pisco sour was the hit of the day and night, my self and harsh polished of a few more in the evening although it was much harder to order without the assistance of Ivan´s spanish who had slept in from 5pm till 11.
Never the the less the both of us along with the lonely planet phrasebook had a great night in our new spot bellavista amidst the Fireeaters, Drummers and one man band. Well we better go to bed now we have an early start tommorrow... a trip to Vina delmar and valporiso.

PS there will be alot of spelling mistakes in this as my Word spell check only checks for spanish.

Posted by HonestAnth 01:00 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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