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Yesterday was a day to be dedicated to travel - but we had no idea that it would be so dedicated. We arrive at the airport at Iguazu to stand in a line that would make the TSA lines on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving look short. We were standing in the line for 15 minutes or more (going nowhere) and our guide went ahead with the bags. I noticed a sign over the head of the guide that indicated a station for business class passengers. The guide never even thought to bring us to this line!
At the desk we were again told that the aircraft had been changed both for the trip to Buenos Aires and then the one to Mendoza. He assigned us seats on both flights in coach. He then said that he would prepare a voucher to refund the airfare difference, and disappeared. He appeared again an hour later saying he had not had enough time to prepare all the vouchers but gave us one of three. In the meantime, we were waiting for the plane to board (it was pouring rain). We finally boarded an hour and fifteen minutes after flight time.
Our connecting flight was an hour and a half after we landed!
The plane was delayed in landing but we were told not to worry that someone would meet us at the gate and get us to the connecting flight (at this time we gave up any hope of seeing our checked luggage.) We rushed off the plane and up the ramp to be confronted with a LOCKED DOOR and no agent. I banged on the door until all the other passengers in the airport became annoyed enough to get someone to open the door.
We did not have to worry as this plane also was delayed. When we finally got onto the plane we were seated at the bulkhead. Bad enough, but there were two rows of business class seats that the crew would not let us into (remember that the plane was not supposed to have any business class seats). The plane flew deadhead with these seats empty.
WE finally arrived at the hotel at ten, just in time for an Argentine dinner.
Mendoza was a place that I wasn't sure I wanted to go. I had seen enough wineries and mountain ranges that a multi-hour plane flight seemed excessive. I was wrong. Although it was not the most spectacular place I have ever been, it was a pleasant place. After the hell we went through yesterday (two flights that had delays longer than the time we were in the air), it seemed to strike just the right note
There wasn't a lot we wanted to do in the City proper but the trip to the wine country (about an hour outside) was quite pretty. Interestingly, the City proper also has a smattering of vineyards. The vines were brought originally by the Spanish missionaries hundreds of years ago to make wine to be used in the celebration of the Mass. The country is demonstrably Catholic. There are roadside shrines all along the way to the wineries. The peasants got the idea of saints from the church and dedicated shrines to favorite saints. But they also took the concept of saints a step further and dedicated shrines to popular gauchos. (The photo at left shows a gaucho shrine; with all those red prayer flags it looked like something from Tibet.) While the Pope might be shocked, some of these gauchos were considered Robin Hood-type heroes and helpers.
We stopped at the Salentine Winery. The owner, a Dutch shipbuilder, built a huge vineyard complete with a chapel, museum, theater, a sculpture and art collection, restaurant, and a winery proper. I get bored with wine tours but found this one fascinating, largely because of the care taken to construct a facility that was modern and medieval at the same time. The tour had overtones of a visit to a cathedral. The winery was in production and we got a chance to see the workers plying their trade.We ate a very late lunch at another winery (and tasted 5 or 6 different wines) and wound our way back to the hotel. After a rest we walked the city before supper. It was a surprise as people of all ages were on the street walking through a large cental park and along a blocked off street lined with cafes. A neat way to end the stay in Mendoza.
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