Last night our Mendoza friends picked us up at the hotel around 8:30 pm. We walked around the downtown area a bit, and it was really charming. The wide, uncrowded streets are relatively clean and the people all look relaxed and happy. We wandered up the Peatonal Sarmiento, which is a very wide pedestrian-only street right in the heart of town that is lined with one outdoor cafe after another. I was thinking we were headed to dinner, but I was puzzled because 8:30 is very early for dinner. As it turned out, we were just going to stop to have some coffee, and to chat an enjoy the perfect outdoor temperature and the do some people-watching.
Our friends had made dinner reservations at 10 pm at an upscale restaurant in a brand-new shopping center just outside of town. The place didn't fill up until 11 or so.
Today they took us to a place called Termas de Cachueta (hotsprings and spa), which is a half-hour drive from the city and very near the road which goes from Mendoza to Santiago, Chile. Santiago is about a 6 hour drive from Mendoza, but you have to cross the Andes. Nearby peaks include Tupungato and Aconcagua, both over 20,000 ft. high. This picture shows one of the dozen or so pools you can relax in while enjoying the scenery in Cachueta. The price of admission (about $45) lets you use the facilities all day (including a sauna inside a cave that is heated by its own hotspring) and includes lunch: a huge salad bar, all-you-can-eat barbecue with a dozen cuts of meat, sausage and chicken, and desserts. Wine extra.