The thought of a 20-hour bus journey would ordinarily fill me with dread. The thought of a double dose, in one hit, would have me shaking at the core! Why on earth would anyone want to put themselves through such an ordeal? Well in Argentina it’s not such a big deal. Why? Because bus travel is cheap and because it can be luxurious!
I say cheap, by this I mean cheaper than flying. Luxurious? Well it certainly is. There are three classes of bus: executive cama, cama, and semi-cama. Cama class has seats that recline to 155 degrees – by my book that’s nearly a bed. Add to this waitress service – evening meal and breakfast – plus a selection of wines, and the fact that you save on a hotel room, if you’re travel overnight, and it’s not long before the whole thing looks pretty dam attractive.
So at 2pm On Friday the 3rd of January I climbed aboard my first South America long distance bus. By 09:30 the next morning I had arrived at the main bus terminal in Buenos Aires. I then had 10-hours to kill until my next bus, which was departing for Mendoza at 20:00 hrs. I intended to make good use of the time to read and plan my week ahead.
I am one of the biggest fans of people watching, the bus station I now found myself in provided excellent fodder for such an activity. 5-hours later and I still hadn’t read a chapter. At 20:00 hours I boarded the Mendoza bound bus, enjoyed a super meal (along with a couple of vino’s) and promptly fell asleep. The next thing I remember is being awoken by the bus attendant informing me that breakfast was being served. We arrived at Mendoza at 10:30 on Sunday 5th of January. I hadn’t showered in over 48 hours and my clothes were sticking to me like sticky backed plastic. I presume I stank a bit as well!
Mendoza, Mendoza, what a delightful town. Hotel Zamora, despite it’s pokey rooms, has a lovely courtyard (with a delightful fountain in the centre) to relax in. So this is what I did for the rest of the day, whilst catching up with emails (after showering of course).
In 1861 an earthquake levelled the city of Mendoza. Expecting the worst the authorities rebuilt the city with wide avenues (for the rubble to fall in) and spacious plazas (to use as evacuation points). The result is one of Argentina’s most seductive cities – a joy to walk around and stunningly picturesque.
If you are going to visit Mendoza then you are going to have to visit a vineyard, and there are plenty to chose from. Because I was using public transport I chose two that were more easily accessible: Bodega La Rural and Bodega Boutique Domiciano – both in the Coquimbito region of Mendoza. Both tours were excellent and the wine superb. I particularly enjoyed the Malbec – a delicious red wine.
Next stage: Mendoza to Santiago (Chile).