Over The Andes

24th Nov. 2016

The AndesI have been looking forward to today as we are heading over the Andes to Argentina. About a week ago we booked our bus tickets so we could have the panoramic front row seats on the upper deck. The only worry is that we have heard that the customs men are on strike and a couple coming the other way earlier in the week spent SIX HOURS at the border. If we are that long then we will not get to Mendoza until 11 pm, so we email the hotel to warn them we are coming by bus.

Different rocksWe hit traffic before we even leave Santiago and wonder how long we will be on the bus. As the bus leaves town behind us we are back in the grey landscape we became used to further north in Chile. We managed to crack on with blog writing for a while before the road started to twist and turn as we began our climb. The scenery then becomes spell binding as we see the snow covered mountains rise before us.

What a climbWe are doing what!!The map on the phone shows us what to expect with a series of about twenty hairpin bends and so it was. Looking back down the mountain we can see lorries chugging up the hairpin road. An amazing sight in all directions making our front row seats worth having. The only downside is that the front window has a hexagonal mesh covering making the view slightly obscured and photos difficult. The views from the side windows make up for it.

What a waterfallThere was just time between leaving the hairpins, going through a long tunnel and arriving at the border to nip downstairs to use the loo. We passed signs saying thank you for visiting Chile and welcome to Argentina but could not quite believe that the border was “tick, done” but given it was lunchtime we tucked into our prepared ham and cheese rolls just as we joined the queue of buses and cars at the actual border post. The good news was the border staff were working but the bad news was we did not move for over half an hour. At least we could get off the bus and stretch our legs. On checking out the Andesmar bus about five buses in front we saw it had left Santiago an hour and a half before us. Hmmm not good news.

The long wait to leave ChileAfter about two hours we were herded off the bus to queue at a passport control window. It took ages for the driver to be cleared through. Then Dave was quite quick but the computer complained at me and had to be rebooted. The official was not happy and looked like he would have rather been anywhere other than sat processing an ever growing queue of tourists.  Luckily there were only about half a dozen passengers on our bus so it did not take too long once we started being processed. So nearly four hours after joining the queue of buses, we were finally on our way again.

Argentinian mountain lakeThe descent down to Mendoza was less spectacular and by that time we were ready for the journey to end. It was just before 8pm when we arrived in Mendoza, so only three hours late. The bus station was slightly further out of town than we thought but we decided a twenty minute walk would help stretch the legs and to enjoy the late evening sun, so we headed off towards town and soon found our hotel.

I can see the snowThere was a different vibe to Mendoza than Chile but we cannot quite work out what yet, more lively maybe? As we walked we worked out the exchange rate, quite a change from the thousands of pesos we had become accustomed to. Argentina seem to eat late so we headed off to find some food and found a great little Italian restaurant close to Plaza España for salmon ravioli and mussels and clam bake.

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