So I did make it to Mendoza, which is just as well, because today is a beautiful day to wander the sunday streets of Mendoza. The hostel staff thought I was insane and would be bored and should go do a horseback riding tour instead. after all no one comes to Mendoza to see the city. Ignoring the hostel staff and using my sense of direction, I wandered down towards the central plaza in Mendoza, called Plaza de la Independencia. Mendoza has a large central plaza about 4 blocks in size then 4 other plazas only one block in size. They are arranged to look like the number 5 on a dice.
The central plaza has numerous fountains and a theatre underneath it. People were lazing around the plaza soaking in the lovely sunday morning light. There were cleaners vigorously cleaning up what appears to be a saturday night party spot. Then there were two ominous looking armed guards with bullet proof vests patrolling the area. Maybe the key to security in Argentina is to be visible so trouble doesn’t start. Seems to work, from what i’ve seen.
I’d heard about a place called the mirador terraza, which was a rooftop lookout on the tourist information building. I was assured it was open on sundays, but when I arrived, it looked closed. About a minute later as I’m walking around a guy came running after me shouting mirador. I turned and said “Si, senor”. So I followed him to some steps that went down to a side entrance. Inside were a few people chatting and he took me up the lift to the3 tourism office, where a guide was assigned (the only one on a sunday and he spoke spanish). The views from the roof were very panoramic. You could clearly see the Andes and the vast desert plain that Mendoza was built on.
Mendoza was the Las Vegas of its time. They built the city in a desert, but they can irrigate the area and grow grapes for wine, because of the so called “unlimited water supply” that flows off the Andes. I’m sure farmers in Australia once thought that. The city has deep gutters that run through the parks and along the roads and water flows down them to irrigate the city.
The guide at the information centre then explained to me numerous attractions in Mendoza, that the hostel staff couldn’t help with. I started by walking towards the huge Parque General San Martin which is apparently 307 hectares. I stopped for a coffee on the way naturally. It was a long walk after all.
The parque is huge. It has grand gates suitable for a palace and inside there are so many things i’ll do my best to list them all.
1. Mendoza rowing club with artificial lake and tennis courts.
2. Mendoza equestrian club and tennis courts.
3. Football stadium built for the 1978 world cup.
5. The zoo.
6. A huge amphitheatre.
7. Museum of natural science.
8. Lots of parkland.
9. The cerro de la Gloria.
I caught the bus to the top of the cerro de la gloria. On top is a monument to the army of the Andes and fantastic views of the desrt towards the Andes and the city. Doing my best Steve Irwin impersonation, I discovered that they had planted Eucalyptus trees around the top. I looked for some koalas and whistled for skippy but had no luck. I suggested they could get some koalas, they had plenty of gum trees for them.
I was going to go to some museums but they were closed for sunday, but by the time I got back to the hostel, i’d spent the best part of 7 hours wandering this wonderful city, without getting bored. To keep up the impression of adventurer though, I’m off on a trip to the high andes tomorrow. We’re talking 4000m+ and the last time I did that I felt a little bit of altitude sickness. Then on Tuesday i will sample some fine wines of the region. Tuesday will be a tough day for sure before heading off to Cordoba on wednesday. Cordoba is where my spanish teacher is from and she has recommended a good parilla to visit. Also from what i’ve read the architecture in cordoba is outstanding.
Ah yes lets not forget spanish phrase of the day. “Confíe en sus instintos y vagar sin rumbo”, I think thats right and literally means “Trust your instincts and wander aimlessly’.