The process for getting a student visa is delayed in Chile, so when I entered, it was with a 90 day tourist visa. Unfortunately, our semester is longer than 90 days, which means we have to pay to extend the 90 day visa or exit the country and reenter. I decided to pay a little bit more than the $100 fee and take a trip across the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina.
Buying tickets early meant paying ~$10 more than the bus fare for a flight—decreasing travel time from 8 hours to less than one. The ‘best pizzeria in Mendoza’ happened to be directly across the street from my hostel, and luckily my late arrival (11:30pm) seemed to be perfectly normal dinner time for the mendocinos. In fact when I left a bit after midnight people were still coming in to eat.
I researched beforehand and booked two tours: one for asado and horseback riding, and the second was a trip to see all of the interesting sights on the Argentine side of the Andes. My first day I went to the locations in the center of the city that were an easy walking distance from my hostel: el Paseo Peatonal Sarmiento—walking path Sarmiento, Plaza Independencia, and Plaza España. Plaza Independencia was the closest to my hostel and the biggest of the three so I went there first. It is composed of gazebos, ornate benches, and carved fountains. There was an art exhibit and a Mendoza-themed lightshow while I was there too. Leading out to the Paseo there was another pool and fountain. The Paseo itself is framed by trees and mosaic gardens, boosting stores, restaurants, shopping centers, and cafes on every side. Plaza España is a bit south, and full of mosaic benches and art that depicts scenes from Mendoza’s history. Lunch was fresh pasta, and it was so incredible. The shop I went to didn’t have any seating so we sat and people-watched and chatted in the very nearby Plaza Independencia.
After my walk through the city it was time to get picked up for my horseback riding tour! We drove to a farm in the far northern side of the province on the very edge of the city. They had tons of dogs, horses, and chickens, and the views were absolutely gorgeous. Dinner was the famous Argentine asado which means roast, and it was just as heavenly as everyone says it is. I would do it again in a heartbeat just for that dinner.
The next day was my all-day Andes tour. We saw Puente del Inca, which means the bridge of the king of the Incan people, as well as a bridge built while the Spanish colonizers were in the region. The tallest mountain outside of the Himalayas (according to our guide) is also in this area and we stopped at a viewpoint of it to take pictures. A town called Uspallata served as our rest stop, and there they sold jewelry with Argentina’s national stone, which is rhodochrosite but is referred to in the country as ‘Rosa del Inca’ which means rose of the Inca.
Mendoza is also home to the biggest park in South America, Parque General San Martin. I thought ‘biggest park’ was a bit ambiguous before I got there and then I realized just how huge the space is. I had planned to go to the Fountain of the Continents and the Hill of Glory, but after walking through the park for 15 minutes, not seeing any kind of hill, and then running into a map, I realized that this would not be my idea of a chill stroll if I tried to get to the hill. The park really is huge and the fountain was gorgeous. I got there around 2pm and the sun was making a rainbow in the mist that spanned the whole fountain. Seeing another fountain from my seat at Fuente de los Continentes led me to the lagoon in the park, where I saw some people from my hostel. I ended the day with amazing Argentine ice cream and a beautiful sunset.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip. The people were kind and the food was phenomenal. I really hope I have the chance to visit Argentina again—I’d love to see how Mendoza and Buenos Aires differ.
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My name is Maggie and I'm from Chicago, Illinois (one of the best cities in the States in my completely unbiased opinion). I'm left-handed, could watch Encanto every day, and I am a huge fan of the singer-songwriter Mitski. I study Public Policy at the University of Illinois in Chicago and am excited to learn more about Santiago. I hope to find a community away from the one I have at home and make Santiago my own.