We arrived soon after nine to be greeted by the delightful Marcella who happily showed us through the apartment encouraged us to make ourselves at home and gave us a map and recommended some restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Solandes Apart and Wine was a great choice. The location, the facilities and the space were all brilliant.
Our Spanish is non-existent and while Mendoza is a serious tourist destination it definitely helps if you either have an organised tour or can speak the language. Marcella came to the rescue suggesting she would put together a program with costings and times and anything else we needed. Brilliant!!! There were a couple of things that I had investigated and was keen to do including the obligatory wine tour and a day at the Termas de Cacheuta as well as a Alta Montana tour.
We needed to understand where we were so a little reconnaissance was in order. Mendoza is a substantial city with a population of well over a million people. It is organised on a grid pattern with a major square at its heart radiating towards four minor squares. We were about a kilometre from the city centre and adjacent to the major entertainment strip with lots of cafes, bars and restaurants. We are yet to get our head around eating after eight at night. In fact it has taken us by surprise that sunrise is well after eight and sunset just after seven so there is significantly less sunlight than I had expected.
The streets of the city are lined with magnificent plane trees which also mark the canals and water courses for the snow melt which becomes the city and surrounding areas’ water source along with some aquifers. Mendoza is in the middle of a desert and the provision of water to the citizens and farmers is a major responsibility and a source of controversy.
A city of many contrasts and obvious differences in social strata. It reflects the struggle both economically and socially that Argentina has been experiencing for many years. Our week will be filled with many questions and a few enlightened episodes, I am sure.