Buenos Aires, Mendoza and cruising around Salta
03.07.2012 - 06.07.2012 -50 °C
Sorry for the delay but we finally found a decent computer.... wrote this quite a while ago, but hopefully it wont take so long for the next update
All up we spent 2 weeks in BA. The week we arrived we took it easy acclimatising and walking around the city all day long. First impressions of BA were, "it's very European" which is not what I expected at all. It's a big city with big statues, parks, tons of cafes, bars, and restaruants to entertain long into the night. We met some people and had a argentinian night out, dinner at about 11 then the bar until the wee hours. It was fun but I prefer to go out a bit earlier. The first week we mainly walked around and had a few good meals around town. Nothing too exciting. Then we took off to Uruguay and had a great time and were re-energised for a fresh take on BA. We rented a little apartment in a cool part of the city really cheap for the week (cheaper than a dorm bed in a hostel) and set out to find ourselves a Spanish tutor capable of teaching Sam the basics and helping me improve my skills. Well, we found a tutor but he wasn't exactly capable. We signed up for 20 hours over 5 days. So that took up a fair bit of time.
We visited the fine arts museum, which was fantastic. There was a Van Gogh, and Monet, manet, and so many more.
One downside to BA was the ridiculous amount of dog poo everywhere. It was difficult to sight see when you are constantly looking out for landmines. And the thing is you don't actually see so many dogs, so where is all the poo coming from?! While walking around, we spotted a man walking about 15 dogs at once! A ha there they are! There are professional dog walkers all over walking at least 10 dogs at once. Pretty amazing, I wonder what the dog whisperer would say.
We bought tickets to a party for the saturday night. It was pretty cool, you had to email the organisers, then they would tell you where and when to buy tickets from a house in BA, then on the day they would let you know where the party was. It was kinda of a like a house party with bars set up. We met some Argentinians who turned out to be a lot of fun.
After BA we took a very long 16 hour bus ride to Mendoza, wine country of Argentina. Our choice for accommodation was maybe the best part of Mendoza. Our host was a Tibetan named Karma who was quite the character. He was born in Tibet grew up in India then moved to England and has lived in Mendoza for about 10 years. He was in the movie 7 years in Tibet with Brad Pitt and a protector of the Dalai Lama. Needless to say he had some pretty crazy stories for us. As we were the only ones in the hostel, he had some spare time. When we asked him about having a good Argentinian steak, which restaurant should we go to, he told us, "look I'm a chef by trade, I'll take you to the markets to a great butcher, if you buy the meat I'll cook it" .
We did, and it was so delicious and accompanied by a wine Karma had made himself. Is there anything this man can't do. The next day he took us in his car on a tour of the wineries. We had a really nice day tasting and going on wine tours in Spanish, I got some good translating practice in and learned some new wine vocab.
After Mendoza, we took another very long 18 hour bus ride north to Salta. A city in the northwest of Argentina. Here we met some really great people that we traveled with for a few days. We took some time to see the city and to relax. Around Salta, there are some really beautiful natural wonders to see. The quebradas are gorgeous multicoloured red mountains with different manners of erosion. We organised a guide/driver and car to take 5 of us down south to the Quebrada de las Conchas.
It was gorgeous with La Garganta del Diablo(devil's throat) an amazing example of how gorgeous the process of erosion can be.
One of the girls, Lisa, a German travelling on her own, Sam and I stayed in the town of Cafayate at the the end of the quebradas for 2 nights. We went to a few more wineries (better and cheaper than Mendoza), and had a relaxing time in this tiny mountain surrounded village. Lisa managed to convince a lovely Canadian couple with a car to take us with them to the nearby ruins, Quilmes which was really interesting.
During a gorgeous morning walk with Lisa and Argentinian Victor, a dog we named wuffy followed us from the hills down to town and spent the day with us. That evening, the three of us took a bus to another gorgeous village, Tafi de Valle, a few hours away and spent the night and next day there exploring. Then we had to say goodbye to our new friend who was making her way back to BA. We headed back to Salta to explore the villages in the north.
Tilcara and Humahuaca were cool tiny towns surrounded by mountains with a slightly different look to down south. We ate some good food continuing the search for even better empanadas. In Humahuaca, we went on an unexpected hike into the cactus covered red rock for a gorgeous view of the town.
We kept in touch with our Austrian friend Johannis that we met in Salta and organised to meet up with him in Bolivia to do the che guevarra trail from Santa Cruz. So after what is normally a 3.5 hour bus ride that took 6.5 we got back to Salta to catch an early bus the next morning up to the border and into Bolivia. The hold up with the bus we took was delayed by military checking for drugs I think, because that road is one of the main drug routes and ways to import goods bought cheaply in Bolivia to sell in Argentina. Either way we got back, and were ready to head out for a new country. The Bolivian border was chaotic with no real signs pointing you into the right waiting line or any order whatsoever but eventually we got through, and found a cab to the bus station. After bargaining for our bus tickets (something you dont have to do in Argentina, as all the bus fares are regulated) we needed to fill our bellies for the bus ride. After eating in the restarant recommened by the lady we bought our bus tickets from, we once again jumped on another bus up to Santa Cruz to meet up with Johannis. Needless to say we have been taking it easy after so many buses. Walking around town, trying new things, planning, and waiting for Johannis´friend Lukas to join us etc.