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Going East...Day 1

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Just last week Chile declared another national holiday. They are second in the world for the number of national holidays in the annual calendar, not bad. So 31st October in Chile now not only represents Halloween, it is an Evangelic holiday. I am in no way religious, but at this point I decided not to argue with anyone and take a nice day off from work and have a long weekend away.

With the long weekend looming ahead we were offered the opportunity to cross the border and spend three days in Mendoza, Argentina, but we all decided against it due to the fact that we had all agreed to move apartments on Saturday. However, after a long day in the office I decided that I had to get away and do something exciting, so at 4 o'clock I called up and booked onto the trip, forcing Hattie to come with me! Nic had other plans (which got cancelled at about half nine on the Thursday night, too late for her to get a bus ticket) so Hattie and I went along with 5 others.

Brief synopsis of the people may be required as it is a complex group:

Ken- half Japanese half Chileno, absolutely hilarious and organised everything for us (Yuki's brother)
Leo - Brazilian guy from Sao Paulo who works with Ken, another great guy who is amazing capoeira
Chris - An english guy who is the worst representation of the British abroad, ever. Boring. Seriously, he had a discussion with me on a bus about bank accounts. He also snored making him the most intolerable travelling companion.
Ricardo - One of Ken's best friends, Chileno and really lovely. Good looking but always carries a bum bag (which, as a random fact, is called a banano in Spanish), which is no the coolest of outfits!
Andrien - A Canadian girl, from Quebec (French is her first language) who has only been in Chile since the end of July but already speaks amazing Spanish.

Our journey to Mendoza is definitely worth a mention, as it was epic. A journey that was meant to take us 7 hours, ended up lasting roughly 12 hours of sheer pain. I hate travelling through the night, and this was truly a night journey of dread. We climbed the snaking roads of the mountains at break neck speed, keeping me awake and clinging on for dear life, apparently we hit the pavement at one point, I didn't feel that though, luckily, otherwise I would have written a strongly word
ed letter to the bus company in true British fashion. Getting through the border took roughly 3 hours, due to the Chilean holiday it appeared that the world and his wife were going to Argentina.

Our hostel was amazing, even though Ken had warned us that due to us deciding very late there may no be room in any hostels so we may have to sleep in the park. No joke. He actually said that he had done it before and it wasn't a
problem! Lucky we checked into the Life House hostel without a problem. It had a swimming pool and an outdoor courtyard that was an amazing suntrap, and it only cost about 70p a night, which isn't bad, especially as we got breakfast included!

We arrived in Mendoza at about 10, too late to actually have a nap, so we got straight to the tourist stuff. Argentina is so European, Mendoza has a huge cafe culture and everyone was on the streets drinking coffee and generally being very civilised, although prices were so much cheaper than Chile and much much cheaper than England.

After sorting ourselves out we opted to hire some bikes and head to the vineyards in Maipú, which was awesome and really idyllic, once we left the main roads and went between the vineyards. We also visit a chocolate and liquor place, that had so of the most attractive sounding alcohols, we all got a shot to try, I had the chocolate and hazelnut, which was gorgeous.

For ou r fi nal stop we w anted to head to a family run vineyard, but this proved a lot harder than we thought, as on the map it looked close, however we ended up spending roughly 45 minutes cycling along a dusty main road swerving enormous trucks and ignoring furious beeping from cars to reach said vineyard. Once there, none of us found the idea of drinking wine appealling and could have done with a nice cold glass of water, as we were all knackered from the ride there! We then headed back into the city as the sky clouded over.



Although a little tired, spirits were still high and we headed to an all you can eat restaurant, there are tonnes in Argentina, as the country is so famous for its meat. And for roughly 4 pounds we each ate enough to feed a family for a week! Unfortunately, when it came to pudding we were met my problems, as you had to be served dessert and thus you were forced to moderate your eating or alternatively eat as much as you wanted but feel the thoroughly ashamed as the chef cut you a 6 slice of cake!

From there we headed for a few drinks, and as Ken is happy to chat to anyone and everyone he managed to locate a really cool place that, apparently, very few tourists know about. It is a bar called Decimo that is absoultely amazing. It is on the 10th floor of the tallest building in Mendoza and at night we could see the entirety of the city lit up. Breath taking. Really reminded me of the OXO tower in London and I would thoroughly recommend it, especially as drinks were still cheaper than England, although relatively expensive by Argentinian standards. We just slowly drank our drinks and reclined on sofas on the balcony of the bar, a really great memory, photos just couldn't do it any justice.

Due to the fact that Leo managed to fall asleep in the bar, we decided to head home at around 2ish, with Ken forcing us all to set alarms for the next day so that we could get up early and make the most of it!



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My Year Abroad

Viña del Mar, Chile