this was on the wall of a Christian book shop!
 Early last Thursday, a newly acquainted British traveller of awesomeness and me made our way over the Andes to get from Valparaiso (where we spent 2 weeks drinking, eating, drinking, eating...) to the city of Mendoza - Merlot & Malbec central, just in time for the wine festival.

Upon our arrival, we walked around central Mendoza like two people who had just flown in from a developing country (ahem, Chile?). The streets were clean. The houses beautiful. The teenagers spoilt. There was McDonalds. Subway. Shopping malls, bookshops blablablah... a lot of cafés, and an Irish pub that actually deserved that name. Parks you could relax in without being harassed. This is not what I was picturing at all when I embarked on this South America trip. Chile and Argentina are modern countries (if you have the money - much of the population doesn't, but they don't tend to live in the cities). And like any modern city, Mendoza had its share of (surprisingly pro-gay) street art. Apart from those, I didn't take all that many pictures - just imagine the houses and parks of any South German, Swiss or nice North Italian city.

bad shadows - 'Le(t)'s play a love game' on a church downtown!
Hang on - not quite upon our arrival - first we checked into what is probably the most soulless hostel on earth. Where staff would not say hello but only handed you rules. That claimed to be newly renovated - approximately 1975 if you ask me. You win some, you lose some, I guess, and until that point I had only stayed at good places in Latin America.

Anyhow, it turned out that the wine festival is more of a cultural festival, and boo - you had to buy tickets. I've worked in theatre, people, and I'm not buying expensive tickets for just about any show a tipsy gaucho might do on stage. Then we figured we might do some horseriding - but decided that $160 for 2 hours on a horse is not worth it.

Instead, we went to the tremendously boring night parade (wagon after wagon with "wine beauty queens" - beautiful but boring) and decided to cycle around the surrounding vineyards - except, we didn't get to do that either as a club near our hostel decided not to stop playing loud blaring music until 5.30 am. With no sleep at all, cycling in the heat was not an option.

ye olde lonesome city gaucho
The next day, we walked around town. The day after (Deborah had fled by now) I hung out in parks. And suprisingly, all that wasn't so bad after all. I can rough it if I need to, but Mendoza is a very livable place. I crave cities and modernity - not up to that point of Tokyo or Singapore or Munich sterility, but still. I wouldn't really want to come back or recommend it as a place to visit (or maybe I would - for the wineries!), but it was good to be there nevertheless.

In the end, I need to thank Deborah for a week or so of the best doing nothing I have done in a long long time!

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