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Magnificent Mendoza

The breath-taking view from the bus from Chile to Argentina will never be forgotten – a truly stunning trip. Despite the ridiculously long hold up at the border, whilst an extensive bag search was conducted which took 2 hours, we made it to Mendoza in time for a decent night’s sleep at Hostal Lugares; run by the biggest and friendliest guy in town.

Mendoza is a beautiful city sitting at the base of the Andes and graced with sun for 320 days of the year (as we were told by our friend Patricia, a local). We spent our days meeting up with one of my former pupils, Vicky, and her family, wandering the streets, horse riding in the mountains and cycling around the vineyards. Good times!

Horse riding in the mountains was stunning and has to be one of the best things I have done travelling (shame I could hardly walk the next day!). We followed our guide, Diego, yes I finally found the gaucho of my dreams ;0, through the mountains as the sun set. I would like to say the whole experience was pleasurable, but when I was forced to canter and then gallop it all got a little uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely fun, but not having any control of my decrepit old horse meant I spent most of the time looking like a rag doll about to fall off, rather than the elegant equestrian I envisaged myself to be! That night was completed with a run-away horse, barbecue with wine (of course) and a sing song from Diego by the fire. A great night.

Note to self: do not go horse riding the day before a bike ride!

“Ouch!” Was the most common word of the day as we set off from Mr Hugo’s bike hire store along the road in the search of more wine. Our day ended up being quite tame as we visited the Beer Garden and one further vineyard for lunch and tastings, before deciding to head back with our bikes ready to pack for the night bus.
The highlight of the day, however, came as we were cycling along back to Mr Hugo taking in the road works and whistling men along the way, when out of nowhere I sensed we were being followed…curiously, I turned to see a Police van was slowly tailing us. Now we had heard about police escorts, but we thought this was a bit of an urban myth – turns out it’s not! Despite our perfectly fit states, we were escorted right back to the door of the bike hire shop; laughing the whole way!

A day of horse riding followed by a day on a bike was taking it’s toll on our derrieres…now to survive a 20 hour bus trip!!

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