Objets carved from stone in a myriad of colours - amazing pinks, blues, green, gold and more can be found in shops all over Argentina. That they are skilfully done is without a doubt, whether you would actually want a two foot high pink tango dancer or a whacking great toucan in a variety of colours is another matter, even if you could afford it - they're incredibly expensive (a tiny pink pig bought for a gift was US$100) - or could fit it in the hand baggage. The beauty of the stone itself is indisputable however, and seeing it in its raw state in the mountains of the Sierra de Uspallata was amazing. The colours are stunning - great outcrops of green and blue, pink and gold, palest cream and solid black. One mountain looked just as if it had been washed by a rainbow, its craggy slopes showing band after band of different colours - just so beautiful!
White water rafting
If you're looking for a few more thrills and spliis than wine-tasting and sightseeing have to offer, you could try white-water rafting on the Mendoza River. The first company to offer rafting in Argentina, Rios Andinos operates out of a base near Potrerillos. With a programme that covers all age groups and levels of skill, there's scope for everyone to take to the water and experience the real nature of the river and the mountains. Whilst rafting is possible all year round, the volume of water in the rivers during summer does increase the difficulty.
Rios Andinos camp is just off the RN-7 5km past Potrerillos. Even if you're not rafting, the cafe there makes a pleasant place to stop en route to Puente del Inca.
The green Apple
It's a very nice and small vegetarian restaurant located at around 500 Colon Avenue in Mendoza city. the food is delicious, the service is great and the owner of the restaurant speaks very good English.
Ah, I almost forgot it, they also offer take aways!
The precordillera and the Andes
Mendoza's proximity to the Andes provides for some excellent opportunities to go up the mountains and if you want to cross into Chile. If you leave early, the sunrise over the Pre-cordillera is spectular. If you continue your way towards Chile, you will also stop at Los Penitentes, a decent place for snowboarding, if you happen to be in Mendoza during wintertime.
Parque San Martin
Our City tour then continued onward through the other Plazas in the 'new' centre of Mendoza (more to come on those later) as well as it's other attractions. By noon, we had crossed the city from east to west and were now in the huge Parque San Martin, which covers the whole western slopes of the city.
This Parque starts out with a very impressive gate donated by Britain (I did not get a picture because the tour van did not stop) which leads into various treed avenues and grassed parklands. A 1.1-km long artificial lake also serves as the anchor for the Mendoza Yacht Club building!
By the way, San Martin is to Argentinians what Washington is to Americans, and he is simply known as 'The Liberator'. You will see his name honoured everywhere in the country. He was born in colonial Argentina in 1778, the son of a junior officer in the Spanish army. After being sent to Buenos Aires and then Spain for military training, he fought with the Spanish army against Napoleon in the wars of 1808-11. It was during this time of upheaval that the Argentine colonists rebelled against Spain and San Martin returned home to join them.