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Please Help - Santiago, Mendoza & Buenos Aires

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Hello! Let me start with an upfront thanks for your help! I need to preface this by saying we're just getting started on planning so I haven't spent a lot of time on research yet. My girlfriend and I are considering a trip to South America from Oct. 30th 2014 - Nov. 8th / 9th. She works for a hotel chain and we can stay at the company hotel with free rooms for 3 nights per location. A great benefit but the downside is the 3 night limit per hotel+ hotel options are limited. Not complaining, just trying to give you some background on the structure of our schedule. Anyway, we're traveling from the U.S. and considering the following:

Overnight flight on Wed. 10/29
Oct. 30th- 11/2 - Santiago Chile
Leave Sun. 11/2 for Mendoza
11/2 - 11/5 - Mendoza
Leave Wed. 11/5 for Buenos Aires
11/5 -11/8- Buenos Aires
Fly back home the night of Sat. the 8th

I know some of you will suggest that's too much moving around and to consider only hitting one or two locations but we don't mind being on the go and this allows us to dip our toes into some places in S. America and capitalize on the opportunity for the free rooms. Here our some questions:

* I read that there is a $160 visa to come into Chile. Will we pay a visa going into Argentina? Is there anything we need to do in the states before going from a visa perspective? We both have passports and have traveled extensively (just not S. America). Just looking for an additional costs from an entry / exit perspective that we should plan for.

* Recommendations for places to see in each location. We both like a mix of city activities (museums, looking at architecture etc.) and being outdoors and hiking etc. Would love to hook up with a bike tour around Buenos Aires, into wine country in Mendoza etc. if you have any recommendations for good tour companies? Maybe take some tango lessons in Buenos Aires? I'd love to go to a soccer game if we can catch one etc. Walks around certain neighborhoods, parks to visit etc.

* How far in advance should we buy our bus ticket from Chile to Mendoza? Are there recommendations for certain bus lines?

* How reasonable is it to do a day trip from Mendoza into Parque Provincial Aconcaqua? Rent a car and drive ourselves?

* If we target $45 per day per person for food is this reasonable? $10 breakfast / $15 lunch / $20 dinner. I don't know what to expect on prices at all three locations? I've read that BA has gotten very expensive. Any recommendations for restaurants, foods to try etc. are greatly, greatly appreciated. We prefer to get away from the touristy spots where food is often overpriced and not that great.

* Any weather concerns for our travel window? It seems like we're going early spring and temperatures can get into the upper 70s on average - low 80s. Prob. the biggest concern would be snow keeping us from getting from Santiago to Mendoza.

* Best way to exchange $. I read for Buenos Aires anyway that the exchange rate is better on the street with cash vs. pulling from an ATM? Typically, I just use my credit card and pull some cash from the ATM every 3-4 days when I travel abroad.

* Cost getting from the airports into the cities we're visiting? Metro / train / bus options to do this? Hire a cab? Approx. cost i.e. a cab from the airport into Buenos Aires is about $30 etc.

Thanks again. I apologize if some of this seems like "basic" stuff that's easy to find with Google. I know some on here get "fired" up about people posting without doing much research but I've been coming to the forums board for advice for over 5 yrs. and had some amazing experiences thanks to my Fodors family. Oh, one last thing because people always seem to ask…we're in our upper 30s and have an active lifestyle. I wouldn't say we're adrenaline junkies but we like trying new things. I have some minor back issues with arthritis but other than that, we're both in good shape physically and open to activities. Fire away with your thoughts and recommendations. Again, I can't say thanks enough!!!!

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