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Travel Argentina: Mendoza
A Look at Mendoza City
Mendoza the City
On my approach from the North of Argentina to Mendoza, it seemed unlikely that such a beautiful province and city could be so soon. The approach through the province of La Rioja is very arid. La Rioja has very limited population outside of its main city and their are even few animals in this desert region of Argentina. Nevertheless, the handful of desert dwellers and small towns are interesting to see and give you a feel of a very different Argentina.
The approach to Mendoza is very different, it is like a large oasis irrigated by the plentiful water channel from the Andes above the city of Mendoza. There are lots of long roads approaching the city of Mendoza that are lined by tall trees.
The appearance of the countryside is similar to the French, Italian or Spanish rural areas. In the summer it is hot and dry, only receiving water from irrigation rather than rainfall, which makes the conditions ideal. There are olive groves, citrus farms and wonderful Mediterranean style houses. The most notable feature in the province is the abundance of vineyards that some of Argentina's best wines.
The City of Mendoza is one of Argentina's jewels. It was razed to the ground by an earthquake in the late 19th century and was rebuilt at a time when Argentina was very rich. They used the finest French architects who had just been engaged in the reconstruction of Paris for Napoleon III. This has left Mendoza with tree-lined boulevards, grand French roads and beautiful buildings. Mendoza boasts excellent hotel facilities, including 5 star hotels on a Western standard. It is popular with well heeled Argentines and Chileans, as well as from further afield. This large number of tourists ensure that there are an excellent range of restaurants and bars.
Wine in Mendoza
Day trips to the vineyards of Maipu and other regions can easily be organised. There are numerous well-organised bodegas (vineyards) that offer tours and tastings, often in English and Spanish. For the more adventurous of us, there is also a camping trip up to Aconcagua. This mountain lies of the Chilean border and is the highest peak in the Americas. There are also numerous sites of natural beauty in the foothills and higher up on the Andes, which are accessible for the less upwardly mobile of us.
There is a well organised tourism industry based in the City. In the Argentine summer there are many music festivals in the main square, which is just like the main square in a major French city. There is also the festival of the harvest, when all the major Bodegas (vineyards) bring in their variety of wine for a sampling.
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