The following article may contain affiliate links.
Checking out of our AirBnB apartment in Santiago we hailed a taxi to the bus station where we would be boarding an Andersmar coach to Mendoza, Argentina. The taxi driver was very chatty, and we realised that we had picked up enough Spanish to be able to understand him. We had a short wait at the bus station, allowing us to stock up on snacks for our trip.
The standard of coaches in South America is fantastic and the Andersmar coach did not dissapoint. We were seated upstairs in comfortable seats with USB charging ports. This kept the kids tablets charged up while they watched movies on them.
The trip over the Andes would take 7 hours, 2 of which are at immigration. When looking at Google Maps one section of the mountain road looked like we may have to be alert with sick bags but all went well. Mum had to hang back at passport control for a random spot-check of her passport. This was possibly the only eventful thing on the trip other than admiring the scenery. Mountains gave way to flat roads as we approached Mendoza and it didn’t seem like a long time before we were off the coach and in a taxi heading to our apartment downtown.
We had looked at trying to find cheap accomodation close to the centre of town and Apartamento A lo de Cristian had come up as a good option for us. Reading reviews it seemed as if the apartments were above a small shopping centre, the Galeria Independencia. Knowing this was a great advantage as I can imagine many people would wander the streets looking for the place. We entered the shopping centre to go to the office only to find it shut with a number to call. Unfortunatly we didn’t have SIM cards. Dad stopped a passer by, explained the situation to him and asked if he would call on our behalf. He did and informed us that we were to wait while someone came. We thanked the stranger and waited until a smiling lady greeted us. Despite telling her our Spanish was poor she proceeded to explain everything in great detail in Spanish! We got the jist of things and before long were settled in our small 8th floor apartment. That evening we took a walk around town and found something to eat at a restaurant on Paseo Sarmiento, a central strip in town with lots of food options and street entertainment.
The following day was Sunday and we headed into town with the mission of booking ourselves on a wine tour and securing bus tickets to Salta in northern Argentina. First stop was the Andesmar ticket shop where we were unable to get bus tickets because we needed our passports and they were being held for the moment in the accomodation office. Being a Sunday all the tour companies were closed too so we headed to Plaza Independencia, chilled out by the fountains before letting the kids play in the park. We found a nice restaurant for lunch before heading back to our apartment via the supermarket. The afternoon was spent watching films and educating the kids.
We set out again the next day, this time armed with passports and booked our coach to Salta. We then hunted around tour shops to get ourselves either on a winery tour or horseback riding. Both were frustratingly problematic. Most places wouldn’t take the kids to a winery and the horseback riding tended to be coupled with a winery visit. In the end we cut our losses and booked a trip to a natural hots springs and small water park an hour out of town. The Cacheuta Spa looked good and we were sure the kids would like it.
A short taxi ride brought us to the Parque General San Martín where we took a walk around before walking back into town for some food and to explore some of the smaller plazas.
We had arranged to meet some travel friends the next day. Jenny and Gavin were at a campsite just out of town with their landrover – Ruby. We had first met in Punta Arenas and we caught up on our travels since over some delicious ice-cream, a hit with the kids!! The kids played in the park on our way back to the apartment and the we got ready for our trip to Cacheuta Spa the following day.
Unfortunatly Dad wasn’t feeling very well the morning of the trip. He had hardly slept and felt ill. Mum was tired too and we made the hard decision to miss out on Cacheuta Spa. It was our last day in Mendoza and we felt pretty low. It seemed as if we hadn’t made the most of our time here at all.
It was a frustrating five days. We checked out of the apartment and took a short walk to the taxi rank. Arriving at the bus terminal early we had drinks and something to eat in a cafe there while waiting for our bus. The ride would be an adventure in itself, 18 hours on a coach with the kids as we headed north to Salta….