It’s certainly true that Argentina is not the bargain it used to be. Money smart travellers rushed here in their droves following the big economic crash of 2001 when it was cheaper to buy a litre of beer here than a pack of chewing gum back at home. However after 10 years and spiraling inflation, it isn’t the cheap as chips destination of years past. You can however still discover this wonderful city while minding your pesos.
Get your bearings on this city by wandering the plazas: Italia, Espana, Chile, San Martin and the biggie – Plaza Independencia. Not only are they nice to look at and loll around in, but the plaza’s all tell part of the country’s history with monuments of independence battles and immigration influences. The plazas are strategically placed as meeting points in case of an earthquake, like the one in in 1861 that completely flattened the city. Rest assured though – buildings are all earthquake proof now.
Argentineans must come second only to Italians for their love of ice-cream, and the helados (ice cream) here are a matter of national pride. Get your lips around an ice-cream stuffed cone from premier Mendoza chain Ferruccio Soppelsa (Belgrano 1092) for their Malbec and Torrontes flavours, or Bianca y Nero (Aristides Villanueva 144) for their seriously chocolate-y flavours. Don’t miss out on trying Super Dulce de Leche ice cream either.
There’s nothing more Argentine than tango, and every Friday in the Summer months a crowd of tango aficionados gather outside in Plazoleta Vergara and entice each other and onlookers to fall in love with this passionate, truly Argentine dance.
You might associate Mendoza with steak and Malbec but if you are on a budget, there’s one Argentine staple sure to fit any budget – the humble hotdog. Wander along Aristides Villanueva street and you’ll find lots of Pancho (hotdog) stores where you can slap on all sorts of toppings including ‘lluvia de papas’ (romantically translated as potato rain, but more accurately known as potato chips).
Most nightclubs are out of the city and charge a cover, but Por Aca will usually let gringos in for free or charge a cover fee for men that is redeemable against drinks. This is the top drinking venue on this bustling nightlife street which is so cheesy and sleazy that it’s still the best in town. Get a Fernet and Coke and get down!
No doubt you are going to need a lie in… Grab a cheap coffee and tortita from a street vendor and jump on the local 10: 171, 172 or 173 bus from Rioja and Lavalle street to Maipu ($3pesos). The bus driver will drop you off at Mr Hugos if you ask and Mr Hugo and his wife will gladly welcome you and offer you a welcome glass of vino. From here you can rent a bike to tour some of the more accessible wineries in the region.