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January 13, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

Mendoza: City of Trees, Wine, and Heat

The bus to Mendoza. Not too shaby!

Mendoza is the first real city in Argentina where we have spent an appreciable amount of time. And what a great city it is! At the base of the Andes, this city is truly a desert. Through an impressive aqueduct system, the city is able to harness the water from melting snow in the Andes to create nothing less than an oasis. Every tree planted in the city is non-native, and the trees are one of my favorite things about this city! Every street is lined with huge sycamores that tower over the small streets and massive sidewalks. The shady sidewalks are at least twice as wide as the streets, and almost every restaurant or cafe has outdoor seating. The sidewalks are another point of interest: there is a huge variety of materials and designs used in the sidewalk. We are under the impression that the owners of each building are also in charge of designing the sidewalk in front of the building, leading to a beautifully eclectic mix of colors, patterns, and textures underfoot. Mendoza is very much an outdoor city; very pedestrian friendly and with more parks than I would have through possible in a small city!

Impressive aqueduct system. No, these are not tourist traps. Not intentionally at least!

Mismatched sidewalks

Needless to say, we really enjoyed Mendoza. Outside this lovely shady city, 70% of Argentina's wine is produced. That's right, we made it to Argentine wine country! In the city, people sit on the shady patios of wine bars and restaurants to escape the midday heat, while outside the city people sit in air-conditioned tasting rooms and bodegas. It's like the Argentine version of Napa; but with siestas, more interesting wines, and a much more laid back vibe, I prefer Mendoza.

During our three days in Mendoza, we are staying in another apartment, just a few blocks from the biggest park in town and another few blocks from the popular restaurant / bar scene. And it's air conditioned, a necessity when it's well over 100 degrees out. The shady avenues and near-constant breeze off the Andes make the heat bearable, but it was definitely a shock coming from the chilly temperatures and wind in Patagonia!

Our first day in Mendoza we decided to get our city legs back and wander through the sites of Mendoza on foot. We found the (well-hidden) municipalities building with public rooftop garden and enjoyed the panoramic views. I think most people were surprised to see us there. The other patrons of the rooftop garden included a guard, two businessmen having lunch, and a Spanish-speaking family. Good thing no one asked us any questions!

Rooftop garden view of Mendoza. So many trees

From there, we walked through downtown to each of the five plazas at the heart of the city. The plazas are arranged like the five dots on a five dice, with the largest and most impressive Plaza Independencia at the center. We enjoyed the foliage, the fountains, and the sculptures the plazas had to offer.

Resting in the plaza

We then made our way back through town to the massive Parque San Martin. This park is so big, it definitely rivals Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (minus the fog and the hills). We wandered around the edges of the park and enjoyed a nice stroll around the lake.

Parque San Martin

The rest of our time in Mendoza pretty revolved around wine tasting (more information in a later post on this), eating, and wandering more of the leafy avenues. We found our favorite brunch spot, and enjoyed medialunas under the yellow umbrellas more than once.

Mendoza is a great city, with lots of culinary adventures and more wine than anyone could possibly enjoy in three days (but we did try…). It was a great reintroduction to civilization and warm weather, and a good stepping stone to Buenos Aires!

 

One Comment

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  1. nancywporter / Jan 13 2013 1:53 pm

    It’s great traveling vicariously with you two! Everything sounds wonderful and exciting. Love you.

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