This weekend the Holy Cross group went to Mendoza for our last big group trip together. In terms of days spent away from the city, it was our shortest trip, but for me, it was our best trip. The bus ride out west only took us 14 hours, which seemed like no time at all compared to our other longer trips of roughly 20 hours. We left Buenos Aires Thursday night and arrived in the city of Mendoza mid-morning on Friday. After checking into the hostel, changing clothes, and having a quick lunch, we hit the ground running with a wine and olive oil tasting tour. I won’t lie, I had been looking forward to this specific tour for months. Growing up near Napa Valley, California and having a father who works in the wine industry has meant that I have grown up around wine. I enjoy learning about it and tasting it. I had fabulous time wine tasting in Spain with my family a few years ago and so I had been eager to repeat the experience in Argentina.
We went to two different wineries on our tour. First was Don Arturo, a small, older, family-run boutique winery followed by a newer, more modern, larger winery called Vistandes. I liked the feeling of being at the cute, old winery, but I was much more impressed with Vistandes because they had a patio that looked out over the vineyard and straight ahead was an amazing view of the Andes Mountains. The weather was warm and the sun was just starting to set over the mountains, which made for an unforgettable experience. Besides the patio, the best part of the second winery was the fact that our tour guide was from Worcester! This is the second time in a month that I have met someone in Argentina from Worcester—what a small world! After the wine tasting we stopped at a factory that makes olive oil and we took a tour to see how the oil was made as well as to taste some of the products. I am allergic to gluten so I didn’t partake in the tasting (dunking bits of bread into various types of olive oil) but I did try an olive straight from an 80-year-old olive tree, which was so bitter that I immediately spit it out.
The next day, Saturday, we had a 12-hour bus excursion planned to visit various sights around Mendoza. After my experience in Salta with the bus rides, I was slightly dreading having to spend the day on a tour bus, but it ended up being one of the most fabulous experiences I have had in Argentina. We started the day by driving out to the Andes and watching the sunrise over a lake in the mountains. At home, I live on an island so I am literally always surrounded by water. I had been feeling a little landlocked since arriving in Argentina so the trip to the lake was a great way to recharge. We then continued driving along the Mendoza River and even stopped to taste some ice cold mineral water from it. The next stop was a natural rock formation called Puente del Inca where the water has turned the stones a yellow-green color, which makes it look like a waterfall of colors is pouring down the side of the rock. If that was impressive, it was nothing compared to what we did next. We drove to Aconcagua National Park and took a two-hour hike to see the tallest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua. The day was so clear that the view of the mountain was absolutely perfect. In fact, all the views in the park were magnificent. Besides Aconcagua, we also stopped by a little lake in the park where sulfur had turned the water a brilliant shade of turquoise. After the hike we stopped at a little shack for a delicious (and cheap!) lunch before heading back to the city of Mendoza.
Our last day in Mendoza we spent walking around the city, exploring the plazas, and stopping by a famous park. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees and sunny so we spent the rest of the afternoon laying on the grass in a park and enjoying just being in Mendoza. We finished the day with some ice cream and then headed to the bus station for our return trip to Buenos Aires.