The city of Mendoza, Argentina lies near the foot of the Andes mountains (on the eastern side, of course).

It is the largest city in the region of Mendoza, which is a famous wine-producing area, and hosts the famous Vendimia (harvest festival) each Februrary.

On one side of the city is the large Parque de San Martín, which I am told was actually developed for the purpose of maintaining enough plant life to oxygenate the air, as the area surrounding the city is pretty barren.

My Visit

I visited Mendoza in July, 2000. The first day, the weather was a balmy 60 or so degrees (Fahrenheit, obviously); the next day it snowed and there was intermittent snow each day after that of my 2-week stay.

The downtown area is very pleasant, particularly because of the various open plazas scattered through it, many named for countries that have historically supplied much immigration (e.g., the Plaza Italia and the Plaza España; I was surprised to see the Plaza Saudi Arabia).
The plazas were actually designed as places to congregate in the case of an earthquake, when the city was rebuilt after a quake destroyed the entire city (early in the 1900s, I don't remember when exactly).

The largest and most central of the plazas is the Plaza de San Martín. As I quickly learned, you can't walk a block in Argentina without encountering something named for General San Martín, the leader of Argentina's war for independence from Spain (and also of those of several other South American countries). In the major government building in Mendoza, there is displayed a flag which at one time adorned the tomb of San Martín (though he is buried in Buenos Aires), with a stone-faced soldier standing guard over it.

If you visit Mendoza, do not miss the shrine in the Parque (I don't quite remember what it is called, Cerre de la Gloria or Cerre de la Victoria, something like that) which consists of a huge rock outcropping with bronze castings all around it depicting various aspects of the war. It is very impressive.

The people of Mendoza were very friendly, especially to an extranjero trying to hone his Spanish skills. Of course, travellers always say that when they come home, since people are much the same everywhere. Though, as you may have heard, the proportion of attractive men and women was definitely higher in Argentina than in some other places. [IMHO :)]

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