A Travellerspoint blog

Mendoza pt 3.9

The Rest fo' rizz!! (promise!!)

sunny 28 °C

I'm running out of adjectives. I'm sure the words amazing, wonderful, fantastic, beautiful and love hit the top 5 used in my posts ;)

All of those words will get exercised again a hundred times over while describing our hike up Cerro Arenales. (Saturday Feb 16)
Or I could just tell you that those words don't even begin to describe the beauty, wonder, and glory of that hike. It was totally and utterly amazing. The view from the top was.. stunning. When I think back on it, I almost still can't believe that it was for real. I suddenly felt like a person in a fairytale who gets mesmerized by something (usually a man who sees fairies or nymphs or something but whatever :P ) and ends up sitting in that same place, feeling nothing but wonder and amazement forever while moss slowly starts growing up his legs.

Another really cool thing on the hike was seeing a live, wild Guanaco (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanaco) in the distance while on the trek up!! I've never seen one before. So now I have seen all the llama-animals in South America "for real" :)
Unfortunately, we also got to see a dead, wild guanaco up close on the way back down as it had been killed by poachers.

The day after the marvelous nature experience we got up at 6 am to have another brush with nature up close! We were going to San Rafael, a nearby (2,5 h driving) town in the mountains that we had heard had the best white-water rafting in all of Argentina. Also, there is a beautiful canyon which we were going to get the privilege of seeing up close.
The tour didn't exactly exceed our expectations, however. Instead of hiking or walking we were driven around the canyon. For hours. Add the hours there and back and we were happy that the minivan was extremely comfortable (with lay-back seats!) and we were tired from hiking the day before and not getting much sleep. Since the canyon was so big, we didn't have time (?) to get out of the van for photos, so our driver would stop for a minute while the guide explained that we may now take a picture (from inside the van) of this particular rock that is special because it looks like a nesting bird. The next rock looked like the face of an old man. The next one like a person trying to climb up (or down) the face of the cliff. And so on. We all had a good sleep and felt rested and energized when we came back to Mendoza :)

While in San Rafael, we did get to go white-water rafting, though, which was really the main reason for going to San Rafael in the first place. The water wasn't very rapid (2 on a scale of 6) but we had a lot of fun and got sufficiently soaked.
An interesting observation along the way was how every camping-spot here seems to come with a 2x1 m brick grill for asados.. The grilling culture is really strong here, and I think it is cool that it is more natural and expected that your camping-spot includes a grill twice or three times the size of your tent than, say, an electric outlet..

The day after that we spent in Mendoza. We had tickets for an overnight bus for Cordoba leaving at 22, so we got to lounge by the pool, have great lunch, fika, read our books, get in some great running in the park - simply enjoy life.

Oh Boy, do I love life!!

Posted by Irmelin 03:39 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza pt 3

The Rest

overcast 32 °C

I REALLY want to talk about what is going on NOW and not a week ago, so this will be the third and final Mendoza post! Still, I have tried to make the posts quite short, and feel like I have succeeded in that.. Let´s just say that Mendoza is GREAT, we LOVED it and could happily have stayed another week. At least :)

Well. Our excitement had reached new heights (especially Asia's) when we on the bus came nearer to Mendoza and started realizing that the white things on the horizon weren't clouds at all, but MOUNTAINS. Yes, the Andes mountains surround Mendoza on one side. So, naturally, we wanted to do some kind of hiking or trekking or any other way of letting our feet take us to the top of something.

We therefore visited a tourist/travel agency in Mendoza to hear what the possibilities were. Unfortunately, their offerings weren't very attractive - expensive and seemingly somewhat boring. We decided to decide on the matter over a cup of coffee, turned the corner and found another travel agency. The first thing we saw once indoors was a huge poster of some people paragliding.
Paragliding.
Linnea and I had talked about this, dreamed about doing it, hoped to be able to come across it.. and suddenly we did! Obviously, it was meant to be ;)

So, instead of drinking coffee (we did, of course, have coffee afterwards..) we ended up booking an afternoon of paragliding for Linnea and me, a full day of hiking up a mountain and another full day of touring San Rafael (a town somewhat nearby known for its beautiful nature and whitewater rafting), a nearby canyon and white water-rafting down the river for all of us.
Suddenly all of our days in Mendoza were fully booked and our first plan to fill up another day with bikes and wines was lost. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to come back ;)

The next day Linnea and I were picked up as decided at 16 and driven to the nearby mountains where the "jump off-points" for paragliding are. Our guides/pilots, Mario and Pancho, were fun to talk to and also very experienced paragliders. We felt safe and increasingly excited.
I don't really know where to begin with describing the actual paragliding. It was amazing. It was like flying. It was a dream. I absolutely loved it and I wish with all my heart that I could do paragliding as a hobby. (Or just learn to fly. But paragliding seems more graspable when put in that relation.. ;) )
Unfortunately, we didn't have any luck with the winds that afternoon, so our flight was shorter than expected. Still Linnea and I were elated. Mario and Pancho, however, looked troubled and when we asked if something was wrong they told us that the flight really hadn't been very good and they were thinking about offering us to go again.
Well, you can imagine our reaction to THAT offer ;)
The only problem was the thunderstorm brewing in the background, and rain on its way.. but they assured us that it was possible to paraglide in rain (the rain would probably not come to us anyway) and we were eager to be in the air again. The second time around, we had to run full steam off the jumping point as the wind had basically died down (the first time we could let the wind fill the sails and then just take a couple of steps and be borne up by it).
The second time was as good as the first. If not better.

Side note: the scariest part of the whole experience, the part that really got our adrenaline pumping, was the actual drive up the mountain.. 20 minutes driving on a winding, extremely steep, very narrow and bumpy/rocky road.. Honestly, even if I had been afraid of the paragliding, I would rather have jumped off the cliff than go back down the mountain in that jeep..

Wow. Writing and remembering the experience of paragliding has made me not want to write about anything else right now.. I guess I'll just have to save the rest of the story for later :)

Goodnight!

Posted by Irmelin 18:47 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza pt 2

Cabalgata, Asado and the World's Cutest Kitten

sunny 35 °C

And so it was February the 14, aka Valentine's Day. What to do? Three lonely girls off in a foreign continent without a man to take care if them.. Haha. We are strong women, we had Galentine's Day!

And how better to celebrate love than a horseback-ride for a couple of hours through a beautiful Argentinian countryside filled with vineyards and grape farms while the sun was slowly setting, giving everything a reddish-golden tinge and making the world a dream paradise?
Yeah, that's what we figured :)

We had booked this tour on our own (normally most bookings are easily made by simply talking to your hostel receptionist, and they fix everything for you. However, apparently the woman at the desk couldn't make a reservation for us because the people at the other end of the line (whom they make reservations to basically every day) "were not able to answer or to understand what they were saying"). So, Asia (our dependable and brave Spanish speaker) called a number we had seen on a brochure. That turned out to be one of our best decisions yet. Cesar owns a little ranch with 10 and 1/2 horses (one foal ;) ) and was happy to take us out riding during sunset. The four of us rode, laughed, talked, admired nature, ate delicious grapes directly from the vine (whoever said that wine-grapes are no good were terribly wrong) and saw an amazing subset from horseback.
Once it had gotten dark, we returned to the ranch and were treated to an amazing Asado (traditional Argentinian BBQ) with lots of grilled meat (..yay..), grilled fish and vegetables for me (yay!), salad, fresh-baked, homemade bread and bottomless cups of the local wine (Malbec, of course).

We had SUCH a good time. The four if us spoke a fluent Spanglish throughout the evening where we all felt that we could both understand and make ourselves understood on all points. We adored Cesar's animals, one of which was the cutest kitten of all time named Taylor. Good thing that name works both ways as Cesar was shocked when we gave him the news of Taylor being a boy and not a girl.. (Never invite vets over if you aren't prepared for the truth.. Haha).

Anyway, we took a taxi home at about 2 in the morning (after the taxi driver had sat down with us at Cesar's (they were old friends) and enjoyed a beer..).

General conclusion: BEST VALENTINES DAY EVER

P.S. the Internet connection here is so slow that I'm unfortunately not able to post any photos :( hopefully I will be able to correct that further on! :)

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Posted by Irmelin 19:59 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza pt 1

Bikes and wines

sunny 36 °C

We had such an amazing time in Mendoza that I almost don't want to write about it for fear of diminishing the memory of all the experiences we had. On the other hand, memory fades all on its own, so a couple of words in a blog isn't going to be anything but helpful in the long run.

We got to Mendoza after a refreshing (haha) bus ride through the night. Imagine our joy when we were given breakfast-brownies and COFFEE on the bus in the morning! Unfortunately for us, the guy had saved us the hassle of pouring sugar into it. Let me just say that even Dad would not have favored that taste. Well, coffee is coffee, and as we didn't want to seem ungrateful we bravely swallowed it down (Mary Poppins kan slänga sig i väggen - "Spoon full of Sugar" just got new meaning) and then ate the brownie to wash out the sweetness haha :P

A couple of hours later we arrived in Mendoza. The city of Mendoza is a lush, green, (man-made) oasis in the middle of the Argentinian "desert"-plain. We absolutely loved it, from the trees lining every street to the meter-deep trenches also lining the streets on both sides (making the the task "NOT fall into a ditch in Mendoza" a surprisingly difficult item for our bucket list) (we crossed it off the list though :) Go us ;) ).

Top priority in Mendoza is WINE as the region of Mendoza is one of Argentinas most known as well as most densely grape-farmed wine-districts with the Malbec grape being the crown jewel.

After checking into the Break Point Hostel we spent the rest of the day taking a walk around the town (and the park!), exploring a restaurant down the street as well as (later) lounging by the pool with a wonderful buffet of coffee, beer, cookies, peanuts, fruit and other snacks.
This was the life. (In case you're wondering, it still is ;) )

The next day we were picked up outside of our hostel and driven to a town outside of Mendoza (about 20 mins) where we were supplied with bikes, helmets, a map (of sorts), a bottle of water and instructions to be back by 19 that evening for transfer back to Mendoza.
Let me tell you, we made the most of that day!! The following song was written on one of our bike-rides between vineyards and then rehearsed for the rest of the day, and quite accurately describes our moods as well as our day:

(Melody: Rövarna från Kamomilla Stad)
To South America we've come
to empty out some bottles,
Happy biking in the sun
bodega to beer-garden,
Soon we're gonna have some fun
'cause drinks are always two-for-one,
Mañana we'll do it all over again,
Argentina is more than we dreamed of!!

Another wonderful thing about this wonderful day was getting to meet lots of other wonderful people! Of course, we needed to hang out more with our new-found friends, so after getting back to the hostel, jumping in the pool, having a bite to eat and then a brief siesta we all met up again for drinks and food at a restaurant up the street at 22:30. Yes, we are starting to live and love being on Argentinian time ;)
The evening ended at 6 am after having closed down three bars and then invited the few left standing to our hostel and pool for a morning swim.

The next day we happily set to ticking the item "reading and lounging all day" off our bucket list..

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Posted by Irmelin 09:10 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Back in BA!

Linnea Linnea Linnea!!

sunny

So since all of my blogposts are super-late and I really only want to write about what is going on here and now, this post is also going to be super-short. Yay! :)

We came back to BA a day earlier than we first had planned because I was having such a great time that I had actually managed to lure one if my best friends to come join us on the fun side of the Atlantic :) yay!

We were SO happy to be back at Casa Ravigniani, seeing old friends again (granted, we had only been gone 5 days but we had a very happy reunion :)
The weekend that followed Asia and I basically tried to fit in everything we loved from BA one last time by the perfect excuse of "wanting to show them to Linnea" (which, of course, also was true).
Fresh fruit in loads, coffee, dinner, lunch, drinks, walking around different parts of town, going running in the park, meeting our friends at crossfit, and last but not least spending Sunday at the market in San Telmo before taking an overnight bus to Mendoza.
Add in a couple of liquados, Chinese New Years celebration techno-Enya-style (don't ask), and a shady, somewhat scary money exchange, and our weekend is covered!

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Posted by Irmelin 15:39 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

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