22 – 29 September
On my way east I have to cross the Andes one more time before turning my back against this dramatic and very impressive mountain range that has been part of my entire trip through South America so far. Even though the busride provides stunning views again it is not quite as pleasant as the last time when I crossed from Mendoza into Chile as the border crossing takes forever and we are stuck there for no less than five-and-a-half hours.
Córdoba, my next destination is about 700 km further east (of Santiago) so I stop in Mendoza again for a couple of days, to break this long way in half at least. Back in Mendoza everything is even greener than two weeks ago as spring hits the region full on and everything is growing and sprouting at an impressive speed. Together with my local guide Lorena I explore the region around the city during this visit. The most important box to tick is a visit of Mendoza’s well known wine region Maipo, south-east of the city. We rent some bicycles and spend an entire day cycling from one “bodega” (vineyard) to another, tasting some delicious wine, learning about the production process, experiencing the contrast of a large scale producer versus a small, family-run eco-vineyard, strolling around a wine museum and spending more time fixing one of the bikes (as it constantly looses its chain) than actually biking.
Another point on our agenda is a hike up to Cerro Arco located not far from the city. It is a rewarding exercise as the panoramic view from up there is breathtaking. We get a glance of a beautiful Andean sunset on one side and Mendoza at dusk on the other side and are so stunned that we completely forget about the time, ending up hiking back down through the pitch black night, just supported by a little flash light of my mobil phone.
The Sunday is spent in one of the parks of course, just like many Mendozinos do it, accompanied with a lot of mate (the typical herbal tea) before I hit the road again – heading east, all the way to Córdoba.
It is a long busride along the edge of La Pampa, a region with a lot of nothing but fields. After sitting in the bus for 11 hours I don’t mind a little walk to my hosts’s (Sole) apartment, however, this little walk turns into quite a hike as I did not research the exact location of the apartment beforehand. The very road is quite long and of course I end up at the wrong end in the first place. Considering the ups and downs along the way, the weight of my luggage as well as the warm temperatures (even in the evening) it is a nice and sweaty workout.
With roughly 2 Mio inhabitants Córdoba is the second (largest) city in the country. In terms of tourist attractions or sites of interests it does not have too much to offer though. I guess after Valparaíso and Mendoza, two of my favourite places in this part of the continent that I just discovered within the past two weeks, Córdoba has quite a difficult role to play to be fair. I enjoy the summery temperatures and stroll around the city for two days exploring some parks, plazas, colonial buildings and cool neighbourhoods before continuing my way further east. If I were here just a few days later I could witness one of the largest Oktoberfests outside of Germany in a small town called Villa General Belgrano, strongly influenced by the many Germans living there.