Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Over the Andes

On Thursday, the 23rd, we took a 15 minute taxi ride from the hostal to the bus station. The Alameda Bus Terminal is one of several in Santiago, and it is a very busy place. Certain bus lines run out of different terminals and this one is the main hub for our choice, TurBus.

We spent the hour before our departure watching people and guarding our luggage; we had been warned that the bus station is not a place to be lackadaisical about our belongings. It took about 30 minutes to load the bags on to the bus, so we departed about twenty minutes behind schedule. The buses all travel with two crew members, a driver and steward, who swap places half way through the journey.

As soon as we were on our way, we were all given a pillow and little snack bag that consisted of a snack bar, a cookie, and a small container of juice; we were hoping for a sandwich as we did not have anything for lunch!

It took about 3 1/2 hours to reach the Chile/Argentina border on a road that climbed to 10000 feet; at one point we went through a series of numbered hairpin curves (29 was the last number we saw). The map below shows the switchbacks quite graphically.

The border crossing was quite busy and it took us about 3 1/2 hours to pass from Chile to Argentina. We finally arrived in Mendoza about 21:45 and checked in to our new home, Modigliani Suites, a little after 2200. The young man at the reception had called TurBus so he knew we would be late and waited past the normal closing time for us. He pulled out a map of the city and quickly gave us a tour highlighting points of interest and, of course, the low down on some good restaurants.

We are leaving Mendoza in the morning for the return bus ride over the Andes. We've had a great time here and you will hear all about it in the next post. A sneak preview: we were just interviewed on live radio at Plaza Italia on the opening night of a three day event celebrating the Italian heritage that is quite strong in this wine producing area of Argentina; we supposedly were on air just after the Italian Consul!



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