Dec 25, 2011

Mendoza - Parks, Wine, Steak and late night action

In a traveler's pursuit for happiness and the perfect place, different people look for different things. Some look for a place where you can live on $2.50 a day; others for spiritual enlightenment; or perhaps a sunny beach with ongoing live music, naked women and an all you can drink, snore and smoke buffet. Mendoza almost hit the mark for me; it has an amazing array of parks, where to take an afternoon nap on the grass, after a delicious and affordable 500grs steak lunch with a bottle of "around the corner" malbec wine.

Plaza Independencia
Siesta certified tree
Parque San Martin
Mendoza exercises mandatory siesta from around 1 pm to 5 pm, every day. Mendocinos are certainly service oriented, and you can assume to have a great meal with great service everywhere. But, do not expect anyone, to be available for anything, during siesta time.

So, if you want to function in this green oasis in the desert, surrounded by the irrigation system inherited from the Huarpes indians, take your nap, get up early night or late afternoon (whatever makes you feel less guilty) and head into town to enjoy true night life that kids and adults alike seem to enjoy on a daily basis.


With all that being said in front of me, I decided to take a short vacation from travelling in this town. When in Rome as the romans do;  I candidly accepted the offer and started an uninterrupted daily routine of  running, breakfast, city stroll, lunch, nap in a park, city stroll, dinner, and drinks. Repeat.

Daily Running around Parque San Martin's lake
Plaza España
Looking up in the middle of the day. A religious experience !

Always something going on downtown 
Bife de Chorizo and Malbec. Soooo right !
I had initially stayed at an apart-hotel, needing the privacy and comfort post Valparaiso. But it started getting  boring after a couple of days and I moved to a hostel in the middle of the action. Itaka was a pretty good place except for a lame breakfast, with a pool, wine night every other day, and a barbecue a couple times a week. The hostel is in the back of a bar/restaurant right on Aristides Villanueva which is the street with some of the best nightlife in town. 

Barbecue @ Itaka

Although there are no many discos  or "boliches" per say (these are in the suburbs), Aristides is where a lot of Mendocinos and tourists come together for food, drinking and partying. 

I met a few Argentinians since it was a long weekend, and people from Cordoba, Rosario, Neuquen and Buenos Aires found their way to party town Mendoza.  As I started to feel guilty for such a lazy travel routine, I booked a rafting trip in the Mendoza river, although I might add that I was running every day. 



The rafting promised to be a Class IV run but it was more like a Class II-III with a couple of surprises. Nonetheless, it was a great way to spend the day, chill in the pool afterwards, and meeting cool people.

When I got back to the hostel, I had a pleasant surprise.  In Valparaiso, Anna and I had gone separate ways. We had exchanged messages of her coming to Mendoza but had no idea when. It was great to see her there checking in at the hostel. That night we went out for dinner, drinks and partying until morning with a Chilean couple and two Porteños (from Buenos Aires) that I had met the night before, and had gone rafting as well. Although Johan spoke German, it was unavoidable for Anna to get lost in translation. There is no way two Chileans, two Argentinians and a Colombian speaking loud and quickly can be followed and understood.

For the remaining stay in Mendoza, Anna and I hung out in town, napping in parks yet again,

 but also went to Maipu to do a bike tour of the vineyards, 

went to these very cool termals day spa, 

and went always looking for good food, wine, and decent nightlife around town. To summarize the dining experience, we found decent sushi, decadent gelato, outstanding vegetarian food, and perfectly prepared Italian as expected.

Mendoza is a great town but if you ever go, drink all the wine, eat all the steak, have all the naps, party all night long, and then get out; run away... This kind of lazy and pleasant lifestyle is very tempting, and you may just blow all of your vacation days and money here.