3) The fact that I slept an unbelievable amount of the journey :-)
One thing that was quickly discovered from Martin, yet another Aussie mate, was that the buses are again booked for days in advance. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I just arrived and I am already stuck here-- a place I had never intended to visit. Ugh, Argentina was really starting to get frustrating!
Although super windy, a few of us opted for a hike on 2388m Cerro Cathedral. Yes, it should have been a ride up a chairlift and walk across and down, but it was too windy so the chairlift was closed.
Instead Martin, Francesca (Germany), Casey (Canada) and I did the 20km round-trip hike to Refugio Frey with beautiful views of Lago Nahuel Huapi along the way.
The following day I was all about the Circuito Chico bike ride that everyone does around the lake. We heard it was pretty hard, so thought maybe we should take a bus to the town of Ville La Angostura and bike around Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes instead.
Oops, this bike ride is harder?
Okay, we'll take the boat there and bike back since it is easier- great!
Why does no one tell us that the boat is sold out BEFORE we bike down the huge hill that we now have to bike back up? Ugh, Argentina!!!!!!!
We did have another moment of frustration when the next bus back to Bariloche wasn't for 5 hours, but thankfully they added a bus so we didn't have to cry!
Done with Bariloche; now for my second attempt at Chile, but first I had my thousandth tear-my-hair-out moment. (Really, in 10 months I've never been so frustrated!)
Of course it was Friday, so we had to make an ATM run before the town ran out of money-- a common problem in Argentina for some reason.
Then best to get money changed since I can foresee being stuck at the border with no Chilean Pesos and no ATM. Of course they don't change money between 1-5pm! WHAT THE F!!!!!!!!!!
The next morning I finally arrived in toasty warm, wine country (I am following summer, but it's been cold since landing in Ushuaia)-- things could be worse!
I was pleasantly surprised to run into my Aussie mates, Nathan and Woody, from El Calafate who I joined for a movie (El Tourista, as they say en Espanol) and a tasty dinner. Like Calafate, Mendoza is full of dogs, one of which followed us all the way across town as we ran into a truly bazaar bachelor party, at least that is what we think it was.
Carmelo Patti- a family owned winery that took us a while to find since there was no sign. It was worth the effort since we met Carmelo and he was DElighful even if we didn't exactly catch everything he was saying. The wine was good too!
We then rode to Cavas de Chacras for lunch, a tour by an informative (if slightly arrogant) guide and a tasting of their lesser quality wine. I still wish we had tasted their "A" line.
Alta Vista, a larger producer, was quite a complex. The wine cellar and tasting room, complete with our guide from New Jersey, felt just like home. I was slightly disappointed to not try their highly praised Alto, but what we did try was very nice and I appreciated the complimentary tasting of dessert wine.
It was a lot of wine, but shockingly we made it back to the bike shop unscathed despite riding against the flow of traffic on a narrow street.
Funny enough, when I returned to Hostel Lao I learned that I knew everyone staying there from either wine tasting, El Calafate or Bariloche--- I know this is the 8th largest country, but it is beginning to seem pretty small ;-)
In fact we so enjoyed the meal and bottle of Bonarda that we opted for a second bottle on the patio overlooking the beautiful grounds and mountains in the background. It was the perfect day (until they made us leave since they wanted to close!)
What a good way to end my month in Argentina. But wait, it can't possibly go smoothly.
Unbelievable- no one at the bus station would print my ticket despite the fact that they all had printers right in front of them and I offered to pay. So nice of them to offer me one last chance to lose it! ;-)