Thursday, April 4, 2013

Semana Santa Travelogues: Trip to Mendoza

Writing about everything that I have experienced this past week is pretty much impossible. I have gained so many new impressions and I don’t think I can fit them all into one blogpost.

Which is why I decided to divide it up a bit; First off, some details about the trip and the trippers, then the various adventures we had in Mendoza, after that the trip back with a short stay in Buenos Aires, and last but not least a weekend in Piriápolis.

And just so you all know that I am not just vacationing here, I did start with school but since Easter is really early this year we only had two weeks of school before we went off for Easter break. Or “Semana Santa” as it is called here. Since that left not a lot of planning time in advance I spontaneously decided to join four other exchange students at Universidad Cat├│lica on their trip to Mendoza, Argentina.

Namely those were Erin from Texas, Rachel from Minnesota, Izzie from Georgia and Bridget from Oregon. Now if you know your states, you might have recognized that I was the only German within that group of Americans. But I guess I could pass for Kansan if I wanted to.

Bridget                                                    Rachel

Izzie                                                       Erin

Now to begin with the planning, one of the girls who travelled with me, Erin, gave me the details about the buses/ferry and the hostel. In Argentina it is quite cheap-ish to travel around in overland buses. That is why we went to Buenos Aires first where there is a pretty big bus terminal from where you can go practically everywhere in and around Argentina. And since the cheapest manner to get to Argentina is to go to a place called Colonia (in Uruguay) first and then take a ferry to Buenos Airesfrom there, we chose to do it that way. Erin also gave me the name of the hostel they were staying in, so I could book that as well.

As soon as I had all the details I started making arrangements. Booking the hostel was easy. No problems there. But then the website for the overland bus in Argentina didn’t like my credit card. So I skyped with my mommy and soon thereafter the bus was booked via her credit card. Problem solved. And finally I had to get me the tickets for the bus and ferry in Uruguay which was easiest done at the bus terminal “Tres Cruces” here in Montevideo. But of course that day it rained all day and due to the lack of an umbrella I decided to reschedule for the next day. That day there was no rain and Pablo offered to help me buy the tickets. Theoretically that meant that nothing could go wrong, right? Well, not exactly. The girl at the counter for the ferry tickets apparently thought I was from “Armenia” instead of “Alemania”. And apart from the fact that both start and end with an A, I don’t think they sound alike. Anyway, I didn’t find out about it until I checked it at home and so I had to go back and have it changed. Which worked out fine and I didn’t have any problems getting out of and back into the country.

So after that I was all set for the trip and super excited for school to be out and vacation to be in. Ok, in between school and vacations I went to see the Uruguay vs. Paraguay soccer match that I have blogged about earlier but the morning following the game I finally got to go on my Semana Santa adventure! Which started Saturday morning at around 11ish at the bus terminal in Montevideo where my four companions and I got on the bus to Colonia.

Now during the bus ride to Colonia I didn’t sit by the others because we booked our tickets separately. I guess there is not a lot to write about that part of the trip. Though I have to mention one thing: Overland buses in South America are waaaay more comfortable than the ones we have in Europe! The seats were so comfortable and there was leg space en masse!  

Later, upon arrival in Colonia we had some coffee and continued to the ferry terminal which was just down the street from the bus terminal. We went through all the check-in and leaving-the-country procedures and got on board of the ferry that would take us to Argentina.

I was pretty excited then until I wanted to take a picture of Bridget being silly… and almost got a heart attack right there. I had forgotten the memory card for my camera! In order to even be able to take lots of pictures I had saved them all onto the computer in the morning and apparently I had forgotten to take the card out of my computer and put it back into the camera. Major bummer. I mean what’s a trip when you have a great camera but can’t use it to document everything?

Luckily Izzie saved my trip right there because she had brought a spare memory card and was willing to lend it to me for the trip. For me that meant the world, and for you that means tons of pictures to look at.

Now, off the ferry, through a very brief immigration/security check and into two taxis. Because we were five persons and taxis don’t transport more than four, we had to split up. So Rachel, Izzie and I went on the first taxi and got a ride through possibly one of the ugliest parts of Buenos Aires. After a short drive we arrived at the bus terminal “Retiro” from where our bus to Mendoza would leave, and thought we’d just wait a couple minutes for the other two to arrive. After all they had gotten into the taxi right behind ours.

But we waited and waited and there was no sight of them. So we did some investigation and found that it was impossible to find the others because the terminal is just so incredibly huge. We quickly decided to have us some food before the last big part of our journey and so we went to find a restaurant. And guess who we found on the way! Erin and Bridget, the two we had lost earlier.

After some food we went back to the terminal and waited for our bus to come. Nothing too spectacular happened here. We got on the bus and smart as I am I booked a seat at the top-front of the bus so I could get a great first view of Mendoza. And a great view I got. After I slept deeply in my very comfy and spacey seat.

And I woke up just in time to get a first glance of the Andes and the Mendoza province. I also got to talk to the guy in the seat next to mine who told me that he is from Mendoza but works as a marine at Ushuaia in the “Tierra del Fuego” region. In the very south of South America. The end of the world.

First glance of the Andes... and some dirt on from the bus window. 

Said Mendocinian guy was called Javier and gave me some tips on what to do in Mendoza. Since we hadn’t really planned out all of our time and were travelling rather spontaneously I figured that could be quite handy.

And finally after a thirteen-and-a-half hour busride we got to Mendoza. The destination of our journey. 

P.S. There's gonna be more pictures in my next post. Pinky promise!

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