Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Visa, No Problem

Zack and I took a weekend trip to Mendoza, Argentina this past weekend. Despite a rough start, it was a fantastic trip. On Saturday morning, we took the metro out to the Terminal de Autobuses to catch our bus to Mendoza. We arrived at the bus station at 7:30…plenty of time to make our 8 AM departure. When we arrived though, there was no one from our bus company in sight. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure that no one in the entire station spoke English, so I was forced to exercise my Spanish skills all morning. Finally, at 7:50 the man from our bus company showed up only to tell us that our original bus was not making the trip and we had been moved to a 9:30 departure via another company. The man was really rude to me, and my Spanish skills were good enough to understand what he was saying to me but not good enough to respond rudely back at him. The only good part was that we were upgraded from semi-cama (semi-bed) to cama (bed) seats which are much bigger, recline farther, and are more comfortable.

After waiting in the cold weather for an hour and a half for the 9:30 bus, it was finally time to board. When we were boarding, the man taking the tickets asked to see our passports and our Chilean visas. I had my visa with my passport, but Zack could not find his anywhere. (Later he realized it was in the hotel room in Santiago.) I had to explain to several bus employees (in Spanish) that he had his passport but no visa, and I was trying to find out whether it would be a problem crossing the border into Argentina. Nobody gave me a very reassuring answer, but they did let us board the bus. Finally after we departed, the bus attendant told me that Zack might be able to cross into Argentina but “It depends on the mood of the customs police.” It was a rough 2.5 hour ride to the border since we were not sure yet whether our trip was ruined, but the views of the Andes were nice!

Can you believe I wasn't scared and didn't get carsick? This road was incredible!

Curve number 26!

When we arrived at the border, fortunately there were no problems getting through. It took a total of 7 hours to get from Santiago to Mendoza (including the time it took to go through customs and immigration). When we arrived in Mendoza, we took a cab to our hotel and checked in. We stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza, which was super nice. We really loved the hotel, and it was in a great location right in front of the park in the city center.

The weather was nice and warm that afternoon, so we walked around and found a little open-top bus tour. The tour was great and took us through Parque San Martin (Saint Martin Park) and the Cerro de la Gloria (Glory Hill). We were only in Mendoza for 2 nights, so the bus was a good way to see a lot in just an hour and a half (not to mention that it was super-cheap – only $6 USD per person). Even though the tour was 100% Spanish, I was able to understand some of it and translate to Zack. Here are some pictures from our walk and the tour:

The fountain in the Central Square of Mendoza

A market in the Central Square

On the open top bus tour

Entering Parque San Martin

The fountain in Parque San Martin

At the top of Cerro de la Gloria there was an interesting monument

The city of Mendoza is in the background

Views from Cerro de la Gloria

We ended our first day in Argentina with dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant called Francesco. We were a bit skeptical when the concierge recommended Italian food, but there is a good bit of Italian influence in Argentina. It was definitely the best Italian food I have ever had. Zack and I both ordered a dish that had an assortment of fresh homemade pastas: lasagna, a pasta filled with veal with a pink sauce, and a pasta filled with spinach and ricotta with a cream sauce. We sat outside in the garden for dinner and it was literally one of the best dinners we have ever had. Our waiter was nice enough to take a picture:

The park in the city center is decorated for Christmas!

We have lots more stories and pictures from Argentina, but I think I’ll continue with those on another day. Stay tuned!



  1. Looks like so much fun!! I cannot believe that road you traveled...I'm sure it would have made me sick! I'm glad you guys had a nice time - I'm especially jealous of your authentic Italian dinner! -Leslie

  2. Yea - Great photos! Miss you guys!
    Chilly here - storms this week - but all is cozy. Happy Thanksgiving!