Wine and meat. That is what Argentina is known for and no place better demonstrates this than the Malbec capital of Mendoza. Argentina is the fifth-largest wine producer in the world, specializing in Malbec, which is predominantly produced in the vineyards of Mendoza. The region is the main producer of Malbec worldwide. I have explained that we love us some quality culture, and if that happens to mean sampling many different wines, I will do it, for the cause. We booked an afternoon tour which took us to three very different wineries in the region, as well as one olive oil and balsamic vinegar production centre, for tours and tastings. It was quite nicely done as it gave us a chance to see the different types of facilities (from old and rustic, to massive plantion, to super modern) and different wines.
The city of Mendoza is mid-sized but a day of walking around the streets and the large park is really enough. We spent some time sitting outside, enjoying the weather and the wine, on patios along the main promenade and, of course, we had to go out for authentic Argentine BBQ – “Asado.” We heard that asado in Mendoza is unique as the grill is heated with woodchips, rather than charcoal. I’m not sure I could taste the difference, in any case, but it was reason enough for us to try it! (Vegetarians, stop reading here.) We ordered the chefs plate, which was a heaping platter of all different sorts of meat (along with a salad bar and caramel flan for desert). It was a good first asado, because we got a good idea of what to order for next time. This one came with pork, beef ribs, flank steak, black sausage, white sausage and a coiled bit that was some sort of organ, I suppose, but too chewy for me. This paired well, of course, with a bottle of local Malbec.
Not so far from Mendoza is Cordoba, Argentina’s second-largest city. We arrived here following a 22 hour bus ride from Bariloche, in the lake district. The bus was nice and even served warm meals and showed movies in English. Unfortunately, there were also some very rambunctious children and a baby that threw up twice just behind us. “All part of the adventure!”
We walked the 40 minutes to the AirBnB that we had booked, only to find out it did not exist. Or, rather, it did, but was another 300 km away and a glitch with the site showed it listed in Cordoba. We found wifi and booked another room in a hostel and got there to find out that they were without electricity and water. Discouraged, we booked yet another hostel room, which took us back, in a giant loop, almost to the bus station where we began. We arrived to hear that the room we booked was not available, but we could sleep in the dorms, where there also slept literally the loudest snorer I have ever encountered, as well as a bunch of biting insects in my bed, which kept me up all night long. Needless to say, we found a fourth (!!) hotel for the next two days, and I am happy to report that it was quite pleasant.
Rough start aside, Cordoba is a very nice city to walk around in. There are plenty of beautiful churches and cathedrals, an interesting park celebrating their bicentennial with colourful rings, a nice central plaza and a very lively neighbourhood called Guemes that was bustling at night, with restaurants, patio bars and an artisan market. We went there for an evening and Jasper surprised me with a bottle of champagne. 🙂 It was also 25+ degrees and sunny, so we spent our days just rambling along, stopping at patios, making nice meals and taking it easy.
Following Cordoba, we took our second last overnight bus trip in South America (the countdown was on!) to the northeast sliver of Argentina, which borders both Paraguay and Brazil, called Puerto Iguazu. It’s really an amazing part of the continent as you can walk to the riverfront and literally look out to both bordering countries, which are just over a stone’s throw away. Below is a photo taken from Argentina, with Brazil on the right and Paraguay on the left.
But the real spectacle to see here were the Iguazu falls, which comprise the largest waterfall system in the world. Knowing that fact is one thing, but seeing them for ourselves is quite another. The scope of them was so magnificent, it truly took my breath away at first sight. Both Jasper and I agreed that this was among the most fascinating sights we had seen in our lives. I suppose that makes the bus trip worthwhile…
The photos speak for themselves, but even these cannot truly capture the magnitude. If you have the chance to visit, from either Brazil or Argentina (as the falls run between both countries), do it! We also met some furry friends in the park.
Aside from the falls, there is little to do and see in the town itself, but prices for rooms were low and just about every hotel in this hot, sticky city comes with tv, air con and a pool. Ours even had two! They also had a BBQ buffet and there was a cute little restaurant down the road that did daily lunch specials so we took advantage of some down time and worked on nothing but our tans for a few days. ❤