In 1967 I arrived at Mendoza city selling books and decided that it was the city where I wanted to live, after having traveled town by town over fourteen different Provinces of Argentina. Even today, it would be my first choice, if it were not because the cost of living is somewhat higher than in the province of Córdoba, where I live. Unfortunately, the oil company where I worked decided to replace me by another employee that was earning half my salary…or I would still be living in that charming city.
Mendoza is a beautiful city, with all the advantages of large cities, and none of its problems. Being so near Chile, it is literally invaded by Chilean tourists due to the favorable exchange rate, not only for touring but also for shopping. Although Mendoza's prices are not as good as those you will find in Córdoba (Ituzaingó street) or in Buenos Aires, it still offers good options for buying. If you want fashion, you will go to the Palmares Shopping Center in Chacras de Coria or to the Mendoza Plaza Shopping in Guaymallen. As I said above, I lived three and a half years in Mendoza and never would have left, but I lost my job and had to relocate in Buenos Aires. Climate is wonderful, if you want to see Cinerama or go to a symphonic concert, you have those options. Surprisingly, it is one of the provinces with a high theft rate, so common sense is indispensable. Avoid late hours on the street in solitary areas, and avoid also crowded areas...
HOTELS. A one star hotel will charge you anything between 20 and 25 dollars per night. Mendoza has only one five star hotel, a Park Hyatt. The Aconcagua hotel (4 stars) would be my choice IF you can afford it. www.hotelaconcagua.com. I stayed at a good 2-star hotel (Castelar, Gutierrez 598, Phone (54-261) 423-4245) and paid 20 dollars per night. But that was two years ago, and now it could be costing some 25 dollars for a single room. I would NOT stay at the hotel Mallorca (1 star), I stayed once there, it was an old room at the end of an open gallery, and it was not up to one-star hotel standards (even in Argentina).
Food is not expensive in Mendoza, a meal can cost anything between 5 and 10 dollars. A full-day tour to the Andes can cost some 25 dollars per person, and if you bargain it with the travel agency, they may include the meal: otherwise you will spend some 8 to 10 dollars more. Recommended tours: Mendoza Alta Montaña (full day, up to Las Cuevas and Aconcagua Park); Cañón del Atuel (beautiful, but it lasts some 14 hours) cost some 15 dollars; city tour, some 10 dollars. "Ruta del Vino" (wineries and vineyards).
There is a very nice mountain hotel in Uspallata, some 60 miles away from Mendoza towards the Aconcagua. Uspallata is a very nice quiet village with some 3,000 inhabitants, with a pastoral scene and buses about every couple of hours to Mendoza. The Gran Hotel Uspallata is a good option if you want to relax. It has a large park and view towards the mountains. It is a 3-star hotel and has affordable rates. This is their website: www.atahoteleria.com.ar/uspallata. You will have to ask rates using their query form, but I remember that they were not outrageous, but quite cheaper than in Mendoza city. If you want to go to Las Leñas, I suggest you go on a tour and come back the same day. Hotels in Las Leñas are very expensive (as much as 280 dollars for a double room in July). But Las Leñas is fascinating. See my separate report on this ski paradise.
You can go walking to the General San Martín Park; it is beautiful, has a beautiful lake, a rowing club and a nice rose park. There are also traffic vans that tour you through the park at an affordable price. If you are more than two, you might want to hire a taxi up to the Vallecitos ski center. It is an enjoyable trip and will cost you some 30 to 35 dollars (for the trip, not per person). The most important ski center in central Mendoza is Penitentes. You will see it on the high mountain tour. Regular bus services can take you there. Buses to Mendoza: From Buenos Aires: Andesmar (first class service); Autotransportes San Juan, San Juan-Mar del Plata and others. Avoid TAC. Not all their buses are bad, but... From Córdoba: Andesmar and Mercobus. From Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan: Andesmar From Bariloche: Andesmar. Expreso Uspallata (www.eusa.com.ar, website in construction) has very comfortable buses and also runs to Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Las Leñas and other destinations. Taxis are not expensive. Andesmar seems to be running no longer from San Rafael city to Mendoza, but other companies cover this route about every two hours.
Wherever you go, don’t miss a visit to Mendoza city It is a charming city. To see my photos of Mendoza city, please click here: http://groups.msn.com/ARGENTINAPAISMARAVILLOSO/fotosderobertoingledew2arg.msnw?Page=11