The map shows the route from Los Andes Chile across the 3200 m pass, which is close to the 6959 m Aconcagua the highest peak of the Andes, down to Mendoza.
This fountain in Plaza Independencia marks the centre of modern Mendoza. The city was founded in the 16th century by Spanish settlers who crossed the Andes from what is now Chile. They found a fertile valley farmed by friendly Huarpe Indians who had learned irrigation techniques from the Incas. The region had an ideal climate for growing grapes and irrigated vineyards soon prospered making wine for the Santiago market. The Land of Sun and Good Wine, also known as the Cuyo was part of Chile until the Viceroyalty of the River Plate was set up in 1777.
Paseo Sarmiento lined with cafes and boutiques leads to the fountain seen above. This is the place to go cruising.
In Mendoza I made the acquaintance of Pablo Capone thanks to The Hospitality Club. Pablo, in the yellow t shirt and his friend Leonardo Gomez, in the red shirt, took the time to drive me all over Mendoza and to tell me about the difficult times Argentina is traversing. The following 6 photos were taken thanks to their help.
Here is the entrance of the huge Parque San Martin that occupies all the south west corner of the city. San Martin is of special importance for Mendoza because this is where the general trained his troops before crossing the Andes to liberate Chile in 1814.
The park's large artificial lake draws crowds when the weather is nice. An ancient sternwheeler is tied up on the left shore and there is a fashionable nautical club on the other side.
Here is the Club de Regatas de Mendoza where races on the lake are organised in nice weather.
And here is another view of the old sternwheeler.
The large park has a variety of sports facilities including a stadium, a velodrome and a golf course. I has an outdoor Greek amphitheatre, a zoo and of course this monument to San Martin's Army of the Andes, Los Libertadores.
On the eastern side of the city, diametrically opposite to the park, is the area where Mendoza was founded in 1561. An underground museum on Plaza Pedro del Castillo, protects the foundations of the first cabildo (town council) of the city.
This photo shows the ruins of the nearby San Francisco church and school built by the Jesuits in 1638. It was taken over by the Franciscans after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767.
It was still cold and cloudy on the day following my tour with Pablo so I decided to visit only one nearby winery instead of taking a tour to visit several vineyards in the countryside.
The Giol winery in Mendoza's suburbs is not representative of the modern wine industry that has prospered in Mendoza province. It is a small traditional winery, a charming showpiece for tourists.
These picturesque wooden casks have been replaced by huge stainless steel fermentation vats in modern wineries.
Here are the traditional wooden vats.
And finally wooden ageing casks.
It was still cloudy when I left Mendoza but the sun came out when I reached San Juan.
When the sun came out it was broiling hot. So hot that nobody ventured outside at mid day in San Juan. The streets were well shaded by these high plane trees but they were nevertheless deserted, Clearly, it was siesta time!
San Juan's Plaza 25 de Mayo was empty and the shops were closed until at least four in the afternoon.
Shops open when the sun is lower on the horizon and the people emerge from their shelters as evening approaches. This behaviour seemed strange for a sun worshipping northerner like me!
My next stop was Cordoba. I was hoping to meet members of the Hospitality Club but the telephone numbers Suzanna and Gustavo had posted were both wrong so I managed by myself. The Hospitality Club system is great when it works but I found that may postings were incorrect and that some were travel agents looking for business. My recommendation to fellow travellers, try it but don't count on it!
This is Cordoba's Plaza San Martin in the centre of the city.
And, facing the Plaza San Martin, here is the 1785 Cabildo that now houses a museum on the city's past.
Next to the Cabildo stands the cathedral whose construction began in 1577 and dragged on for two centuries.
I found Cordoba relaxed and friendly. Even on a weekday, this singer called Antonio attracted a large appreciative audience in Plaza San Martin. He was quite good!
Here is the cathedral again, all by itself.
On the corner next to the cathedral is the Juan de Tejeda museum of religious art sharing the pink building with the Convent of Barefoot Carmelites and its Saint Theresa church.
Being by myself, I took a city tour to see the town from the open deck of a London style bus.
This is Patio Olmos, a shopping center built on the site of the ancient Olmos College of which only the facade remains.
Here is the Colegio Nacional de Monserrat, a secondary school built by the Jesuits in 1687 on the south eastern corner of the Manzana Jesuitica, a full city block of churches, chapels and schools built by the Jesuits in their heyday in the 17th century.
This tree lined canal called La Cañada was completed in 1943 to protect the city from flooding by draining the abundant autumn and winter rainfall into the Primero river that flows through Cordoba. It also provides a shaded place to stroll near the centre
The large Parque Sarmiento on a hill south of the city is also a pleasant place to stroll. It features an amusement park with all the usual games and rides.
Here is a view of the big wheel seen from the terrace of Parque Sarmiento.
Next to Parque Sarmiento is the modern terminal where I took a bus for La Rioja.