The journey from Córdoba to Mendoza took us 10.5 hours with El Rapido (by booking at the bus station in Córdoba we got a promo fare of 428 ARS). You can easily walk from Mendoza’s bus station into the main plaza, Plaza Independencia (about 12 minutes). Plaza Independencia is really beautiful and always filled with the sound of the relaxing waterfall and the smell of popcorn and candy floss. There are four plazas about a block away from each corner of Plaza Independencia – all worth a visit. Plaza España was my absolute favourite – it features the prettiest blue tiles.
We found it exceptionally difficult to find accommodation in Mendoza. Definitely a spot I would recommend booking before arriving, especially at the weekend. It’s really hot there too so trudging around with all your luggage isn’t fun! We eventually found Life House Hostel (380 ARS) and camped out here for a couple of nights. They have a pool but I honestly think it’s where herpes originated. They do give you about 40 medialunas for breakfast though so I guess that’s a perk! After a few days we decided that we needed our own space and a bit of a treat so we booked in to the Park Hyatt for 2 nights before continuing our trip to Santiago in Chile. Yay, a bath!!
We wandered out to Parque General San Martín one afternoon. The walk takes about half an hour from Plaza Independencia and first impressions with magnificent gates imported from Scotland are pretty grand. I liked the park but John wasn’t at all impressed – it’s definitely no Central Park or Phoenix Park but it’s got a pretty Rose Garden. On the walk back to town we stopped off for a delicious ice-cream at Famiglia Perin (Address: Sarmiento 799). Well worth a stop – their sundaes looked amazing! Since we’re on the subject of food, Bianco y Nero Café, on the main tree-lined thoroughfare from Plaza Independencia, is a lovely spot to try some fresh orange juice, tasty medialunas or amazing cakes and ice-cream. Mendoza also has a pretty good Carrefour supermarket on Suipacha 556.
We took a day trip to the Maipú wine region just outside the city but I’ll pop that in another post.
Exchanging USD at the Blue Dollar Rate in Mendoza
If you need to change US dollars on the blue market then you need to go to Mendoza’s main shopping district, specifically the cross streets of Avenida San Martin and J. Garibaldi. You’ll be approached here anyway or you’ll hear people shouting ‘dolares’. They’ll definitely move on the first number they give you but it’s always a good idea to check out that days actual blue dollar exchange rate at: www.dolarblue.mobi. The guys on the street work with a number of ‘shops’ within a little shopping mall; I say ‘shops’ as they bring you to gold exchange stores which are really currency exchange houses.
Next stop: Maipú Wine Region and then across to Santiago, Chile