We’d scored front row seats for the long bus journey over the Andes from Chile to Mendoza, Argentina and decided to take it during the day to enjoy the scenery. While this initially seemed like a waste of time – the pre-border Chilean weather being decidedly grey – after a relatively unfussy border crossing we were treated to some lovely Andean landscapes.
We reached the bus station by early evening and decided to walk the distance to the hostel which was fine if a little far in the evening heat. We had a dorm booked and as we were checking in met our room mates Becca & Lexi from the UK and John & Will from the states who’d all been on a cycling wine tour that day and invited us to join them for a BBQ and some red wine that evening – would I ever say no to that? We threw in some cash and they kindly nipped out for supplies while we sorted ourselves out. We met Donna and Ken, long term travellers who made our journey look like a weekend away and Fi spent loads of time chatting with them while Becca & Lexi hit the kitchen and the rest of us lads set off to the roof patio to make fire and burn things. We had a great evening with new friends – a first class introduction to all things Argentinean.
Our next day was a Sunday so we decided to hit Mendoza under the sunshine and blue sky and walk its five plazas and tree-lined streets. It proved a lovely way to spend a day. For our next day we followed the route of our first-night friends and booked onto a wine tour of Mendoza. We toured 3 vineyards, cupped a brass bull for luck (how this works I’ll never know), toured an old house of one of the forefathers of Mendoza wine, visited an olive oil factory where we bought their delicious sun dried tomatoes and rounded the day off with a glass of the Brazilian staple cane-sugar spirit Cachaca – the basis of the soon to be discovered Caiparinha and frankly awful on its own.
For our transfer to Buenos Aires we’d heard tell that the buses in Argentina were pretty special so we’d decided to splurge on the best available to see what all the fuss was about. We boarded the Royal Class bus, sat in our red leather seats and were treated to an array of snacks, Chicken in White Wine Sauce, a bottle of red wine, touch screen independent English movies on the headrest in front of us and a smooth overnight ride. The real highlight was when the person looking after us came quietly past in the late evening and asked “Whiskey sir?” to which I replied “No thank you, not my drink” to which he followed “Champagne?” to which I said “Oh go on then”.
On a BUS. First West Yorkshire has a lot to learn.