A Travellerspoint blog

Far from tee total in Mendoza

wine country.

sunny 26 °C

21 Dec

We made it. Even though we were on the bus for a longer period of time than the Santa Cruz-Salta journey, my feet don’t look as bad. Some swelling, yes; but, overall, it’s all good in the hood.

One thing about the semi cama overnight buses – in all countries we’ve been to so far: The seats recline at different angles. Invariably, the person in front of you will have a seat that reclines further than any other seat on the bus. Also, book seats downstairs. Occasionally, companies advertise these seats at the same rate as the second floor, but they’re actually cama. They are nicer/bigger/posher seats, and there’s less than half the amount of people. You reduce your likelihood of being seated next to a family with a new baby. And a granddad that snores. Loudly.

Because we’re cheap and stubborn, we decided to walk in an undetermined direction from the bus terminal to find our taxi (the queue was ridic). This was probably a bad choice. We both needed a wee (desperately.), and taxis were reading an invisible sign on our foreheads that said FOREIGN TERRORISTS, AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

We snagged one about 30 minutes after leaving the station. I think we caught him off guard. He was letting someone out of his taxi when I asked if he was free. No time to read that invisible sign, sucka.

Once showered and ready, we braved the city of Mendoza. It has lots of nice plazas; we got a map, bought groceries, and walked around a couple of these this afternoon. Woz bought a wallet – you’re going to love it. It’s got some really handsome pink cowboy patterns on.

Apart from that, we’ve been working on catching up this bad boy blog...and drinking more wine.

And beer.

Warren wants you to know that Andes beer tastes like Snobs smells.

22 Dec

We spent over five hours finishing up the blog to this point today. I’m really sorry for the poor quality of the layout especially, but relieved it’s at least down on paper. So to speak.

Eventually, we escaped the confines of the hostel and this laptop to check out San Martin square. We walked past the San Francisco basilica where there were some children playing in water. I think they were collecting water from the church for their parents who were washing cars and car windows.

We like Mendoza.

The traffic is minimal, there’s wine for sale everywhere, it’s a relaxed atmosphere. There are so many plazas where locals are socialising, napping, and enjoying their friends’ + families’ company.

Dead or alive?

Dead or alive?

According to the LP, Mendoza saw a massive earthquake in 1861 which levelled most of the city. When they rebuilt, they made the blocks huge and streets and pavements wide. It doesn’t have a load of old architecture (I suppose that goes without saying), but it’s also managed to avoid huge concrete 60s constructions.

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Next, we walked to the mercado central to buy a few groceries. Woz was keen to eat even more empanadas, so we searched around to find a cheap afternoon snack.

They sold ham and cheese empanadas throughout the market, so we tried this new variety.

Woz loved them even more than the others we had tried. I told him he’s going to love ham and cheese Hot Pockets when we get home.
On our way out the door, we looked into the display case of a carniceria. There were vocal chords from an unknown animal and the usual tripe was on offer. Glad we went for the empanadas.

Once back to our hostel we watched a few films off the hard drive and had scrambled eggs (posh ones with cheese and peppers) for tea.

Oh, and red wine.

There are lots of middle class Americans staying here at the hostel. As Mendoza is the International Wine Capital (according to their tourist information center), one can only presume that these guests are here for the wine.

Woz and I have heard them talking about bicycles and Maipu. This combination is solid evidence that they’re here for the wine. Maipu is a neighbouring area that is famous for its wineries. The cheapest way to explore the wineries is by renting a bicycle.

Anyway, any proper wine snob (Beck!) knows that red wine should be served at room temperature, not chilled.

Well, Warren and I (not proper wine snobs, clearly) prefer it cold. It goes really well with posh scrambled eggs.

Boxed wine is dirt cheap here – about US$2 for a litre.

We weren’t worried at all about our fellow travellers sneaking a sip of ours out of the fridge!

After our food and wine settled, we went for another walk (we’re not on vacation after all) and saw Plazas Italia and Espana.

There was some sort of dance practice/crap recital going on at Espana, but it is definitely the nicest plaza in Mendoza – in our humble opinions.

We returned to Plaza Independencia (the main plaza) to wait for the sun to come down and see the plaza at night with its lights. There’s an artisan market here (where Warren bought his pretty wallet yesterday) which we again walked around to see if anything took our fancy.

Not sure what we’ll do for tomorrow as we ticked off nearly everything the guide book mentioned today...

Resident Moggie at Hostel Alamo

Resident Moggie at Hostel Alamo

23 Dec

An important fact for today: Today is the last Sunday before Christmas.

Quite a religious lot down here south of the equator. We’ve not been able to get our laundry washed at the last two hostels as it’s too close to Christmas (running dangerously low on kegs now, eeek).

Things are often closed on Sundays anyway, but today...what were we thinking?!

Walked over 45 minutes (who’s counting) to the ruins of the San Francisco church only to find that it wasn’t just shut, but completely inaccessible.

Ruins of San Francisco...apparently

Ruins of San Francisco...apparently

Nee bother, the main purpose of our walk was to see the museo fundacional across the street.

Shut.

We flagged a taxi to head for the pedestrianised street off Plaza Independencia for a coffee and OJ, sacramentos and medialunas. Medialunas are small croissants (half moon, get it?!), and sacramentos are similar but coated in sugar. They taste a bit like doughnuts. Ace.

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After our break, we restocked our water supply to walk to yet another plaza. This one supposedly offers a fantastic antiques market on Sundays.

Nada.

Well, the plazas are always open! We walked back to Plaza Espana to take photographs we weren’t able to take yesterday due to the dancers/recital thing.

We sat with our drink in the shade until there was a really unsettling act of stupidity and ignorance.

Two young teenage lads stoned a pigeon, pursued it, and stoned it again until it fell into a fountain. Then they chucked its dead/dying body around for entertainment. Occasionally they looked to us for a reaction.

We left.

Plaza Espana

Plaza Espana

Probably grumpy

Probably grumpy

Taking advantage of the shade

Taking advantage of the shade

A couple streets from the plaza we were nearly run over by a speeding car that came from nowhere. Woz actually ran across the road – something I don’t ever remember him doing before. The guy thought this was great; he gave us a nice smile as he turned down the road we were walking along.

We’ve been trying to keep cool in the hostel since we got back. We’ve cranked our ceiling fan up and have mostly stripped down to skivvies. We watched American Gangster on the hard drive, and made some “macaroni and cheese” for supper.

I reassured Warren it’d be a piece of piss to melt some cheese and use some butter and milk to make such a tasty sauce!

This did not happen.

The butter and milk were fine, but the cheese just melted and curdled. And there was no flour or anything to thicken up the sauce.

It ended up being pasta with watery cheese chunks - at least it was filling!

Despite all of the trauma of the day, we’re both in good spirits. I think we accomplished all we could for the day really. Mendoza has been nice; if we win the lottery, maybe we’ll come back to do a proper wine tour. I wonder if there’s a boxed wine tour?!

We’re packed up ready for early morning tomorrow. Santiago, here we coooooome!

Posted by alexis.johnson 27.12.2012 08:52 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Montevideo

Home of the Biscuit. Garibaldi.

overcast 23 °C

Apparently I didn’t book tickets for the connection to Montevideo – only Colonia. After a few (a lot) moments’ panic, we found ourselves in another bus terminal waiting for a bus to Montevideo. It wasn’t expensive, but I was really annoyed at myself for making the mistake (let’s blame it on the crap internet connection at the BA hostel - wondered why tickets came up cheaper when the connection started up again).

Plus, Uruguay has what I would call FunnyMoney. When the exchange rate is $1 = 20 URU pesos. Could not get my head around what things were costing us.

18 Dec

There’s a no drinking in rooms policy at the hostel, encouraging people to pay 100 pesos for something that otherwise costs 50. Hostel is nice though. Showers are readily available and hot water the same.

Breakfast is good here – frosted flakes are on offer! Dulce de leche is also provided with breakfast; a favourite of Warren’s. It’s very similar to caramel, but Argentinians (and presumably Uruguayans) will explain that it’s distinctly different.

It’s a bit too sweet for me (shock! horror!), and I soon tired of it whilst in Argentina...I’ll see if I can’t find a recipe for Woz when we get back home. I have a feeling it’s just heated up condensed milk – easy peasy.

The main square in Montevideo had some sort of popo recognition celebration – cops were lining the streets in their vehicles, on horseback, and on foot. This main plaza (Plaza Independencia) is a bit of a letdown, but old town seemed nice.

Tallest building

Tallest building

Gral. Artigas' statue

Gral. Artigas' statue

Old school kiosk

Old school kiosk

We wanted to stay in that part of town, but the same hostel company charged more..or the cheap rooms were unavailable or something. No matter; ours was still very nice.

It has cool ‘street art’ style artwork on common areas’ walls, a lovely little garden area where we smoked a cigar and drank contraband wine – but a bird pooped on my head (karma?).

Fourth country, third cigar

Fourth country, third cigar

He thinks he's a natural

He thinks he's a natural

Bird shat on my head.

Bird shat on my head.

Plaza Cagancha was just a few minutes down the road from our hostel. Here we found a modern artisan market where I bought my favourite pair of earrings so far. We were keen to buy a batik cloth wall hanging as well, but in the end we decided it was out of our price range (it was about 800 UR pesos)

If you think I’m being a bit harsh with regard to Montevideo’s main plaza, check out this building overlooking the square:

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What a beaut.

19 Dec

General Artigas (his farts were colourful), Uruguay’s mega hero, has a massive statue in the main plaza. Below this is a grand mausoleum with granite and guards. We didn’t really feel it was worthy of photographs, but still worth a ganders.

From there, we got a taxi to the Estadio Centenario where the first World Cup ever took place in the 30s. By now, it’s a bit rough around the edges, but has some character.

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There was a school trip visiting, and a large gang of kids surrounded us and interrogated Warren about where he was from, who his favourite player was, and who he supported.

He was terrified.

I served as their crap translator, and for me, it just felt like another day at the office. I couldn’t help but laugh at Warren after they were called away by their teachers.

We went back to the old town where we bought chivitos for lunch. Chivitos are sandwiches with steak, a fried egg, salad, and practically any other topping you can think of. Warren had pancetta on his, but I opted instead for olives.

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The afternoon was super muggy so we watched films in our room until supper time. Really looking forward to that 20 hour bus ride to Mendoza tomorrow. Sort of. Not.

20 Dec

After breakfast, we got a taxi to Tres Cruces terminal driven by a Canadian. He was a nice fella, but we didn’t tip him properly because of the money we had left. I hope my Christmas wishes were enough.

On the coach, we drove for about five hours until the Argentine border crossing; all was dealt with on board the coach. Once again, there was no questioning at all. In total, it took about 45 minutes for the whole coach to be processed.

It was nice to drive during the day for a change. We could see all the agricultural fields in Uruguay, and the views only got better as we carried on. There was quite a lot of flooding in Argentina, but the roads weren’t affected as far as we could tell.

Argentina has such a varied environment. At times, we were reminded of England, and at others Iowa; then, a palm tree appeared to remind us where we were in actuality.

The coach cranked up the air con for the evening, and as Warren is too proud to actually use his tablecloth/blanket, he made me share mine. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but I was using mine both for warmth and to keep my skin from touching the yucky seat.*

I was too cold to sleep properly.

  • I now have a “thing” with yucky seats. In Salta, we got in a taxi where my seat was completely soaked through with sweat. It took me nearly the whole journey to determine where the moisture seeping into my clothes was coming from. I haven’t fully recovered.

Posted by alexis.johnson 22.12.2012 09:15 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Mission BeefWineTango Accomplished

sunny 25 °C

Now in Buenos Aires, the capital city, taxi pick ups cost twice as much as when we were in Salta a few days ago. The hostel we’ve booked seems quite nice. The dude that checked us in was friendly and helpful and gave us a cup of coffee while he quickly tidied our room.

I asked if he was German, but he wasn’t. He asked if he sounded German (Why, do I sound German? – think heavy accent) and I sort of shit myself trying to back out of the accusation. Woz guessed every surrounding Germanic country...but in the end he was French.

Whoops.

He’s not held it against us.

Breakfast is nicer here than in Cordoba. We get some pastry doodads rather than just crap bread and jam (and dried milk). There’s also coffee and proper milk here, but the staff have to brew the coffee in a tea pot with a coffee filter...which takes them ages and the coffee’s cold by the time it’s done.

Their boss needs to join us in the 21st century...or even just take a step towards the 20th – if for nothing else than to save his staff some time.

13 Dec

We really like Kilca Hostel; it feels like a cafe that you can spend the night in. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and all guests and staff friendly and helpful at the time of our stay.

Today, we tried out el Subte (the underground) to get to and from the Recoleta area. It only costs 2.50 AR pesos per trip to get around, and the A-Line in particular was neat. The carriages were wooden and you had to manually pull the doors open to disembark.

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Our main reason for going to Recoleta was to visit the cemetery there (where Evita is buried, among a trillion other people- an estimate). Back at street level, Warren walked me around for flipping ages until he admitted that he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and we’d walked 10 giant extra blocks.

I was hating life.

Fortunately, the cemetery was amazing and so full of dead people that I was happy with life again. It was like a city full of graves with skyscrapers and street lights.

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Skyscraper grave

Skyscraper grave

img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/DSC_2882.jpg thumb=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/thumb_DSC_2882.jpg caption=Grim.]

It was incredible.

Some of the tombs are well looked after, but others could use some repairs. It’s a bit sad really. At one time, these graves were maintained by wealthy families...but once everyone in the family is dead, things are just left to fall apart.

DSC_2845.jpg Evita's tomb

Evita's tomb

img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/DSC_2881.jpg thumb=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/thumb_DSC_2881.jpg]

Most of the tombs you can look into and see the coffins and urns – occasionally you’d find one that had boxes and coffins stacked up on top of each other.

I felt a bit guilty taking photographs (what with all the angels judging me), but eventually I got over it and snapped away. I wouldn’t give a shit if people wanted to photograph my grave, so I hope these didn’t mind either.

City of angels

City of angels

On our way from the Subte to the hostel, Woz was handed a newspaper/propaganda that said LAS MALVINAS SON ARGENTINOS; he spent his evening researching more about the Falklands.

14 Dec

Tango night tonight! It’s a Friday, and we’re really looking forward to our meal and show tonight.

We met up with the free walking tour this morning at 11am near to Congreso. The guide was really good; he seems to be the main boss dude of the organisation. We walked around the downtown area for about two and a half hours. We checked out the main monuments of city, and the guide spoke about Argentina’s recent Dirty War and the desaparecidos.

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We had a quick break for a coffee/snack mid tour where we tried a submarino. This is hot milk with a bar of chocolate chucked in to slowly and deliciously melt, creating a super tasty hot chocolate. Plus, it has a cool name. We’re big fans.

Unfortunately, Woz got a migraine for the second half of the tour, but he stuck it out until the end. We walked back to hostel afterwards and Woz slept off most of the yuck.

The evening was spent showering and trying to snazz up our travel clothes (travel hair, and travel faces) to look as presentable as possible. We waited around the hostel’s courtyard until our pick up for the tango night arrived. The taxi was a swish van full of Eastern European men laughing at jokes we can only presume were seedy. Their laughter sounded seedy.

We had booked the show at Esquina Homer Manzi as it was the cheapest one on the whole of TangoTix’s website. Reviews on TripAdvisor were mostly ‘exceeded our expectations!’, so we were hopeful.

Red wine, what a mincer!

Red wine, what a mincer!

img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/408559/DSC_3066.jpg caption=A sample of sherry]

A four course meal was included, as well as a bottle of wine. We both ordered a steak and knocked back a bottle of red. The steak was lush. I think this is the only type of beef I like.

The show itself included a five piece band (piano, guitar, double bass, accordion, and violin) and four couples that took turns dancing around the stage dramatically. There was also a man and woman that sang, but the music sounded really cheesy...and we didn’t have a clue what they were singing about. The rest of the crowd (primarily OAPs), however, were loving it.

We had a fantastic waiter who took the piss out of Warren’s “Spanish”. He spoke to Woz only in English after hearing him attempt to order his food; but Spanish when he was taking the piss. He also “gifted” us a bottle of wine towards the end of the show. The menu said we were only allowed a bottle per two people; we had to chug as much as possible before our return transfer to the hostel dragged us away from the table.

Both are happy with the choice we made to splash out on booking the show. Apparently it’s possible to see tango for free in the streets, but not guaranteed.

15 Dec

Breakfast this morning included a couple of Scottish travellers, Marie and Ryan. Well, we didn’t eat them, but we chatted to them for two hours or something ridiculous. Eventually, the four of us peeled ourselves off the chairs to carry on with our respective days.

They seem a really sound couple; it’s nice to share travel stories with such a down to earth pair. We’ve met a lot of nice people on our journey so far, but many of them end up telling you how little they spent on something and we’ve felt really competitive about our budget. Or occasionally, we’re told how something could have been done in a superior way. This wasn’t the case at all with Marie and Ryan. They seemed honest and, to be fair, anyone who can sit through my stories for over two hours deserves a bit of respect.

After all the walking and sightseeing over the last few days, I wanted to relax in the hostel. Warren explained to me that “we’re not on vacation, we’re travelling,” but agreed to let me slob for the first half of the day.

In the afternoon, we went on another walking tour with the same company as before. This one was meant to be the cultural tour as opposed to general. It was more political than cultural, and the guide (a very clever student with English/Argentine parents) was very talkative.

I don’t want to deduct points for this; you’ve gotta be chatty in this line of work, but Woz and I both found ourselves drifting away from the conversation on occasion. My legs were also aching from having to stand for such a long time. This tour took over three hours, but had far less stops than the first.

San Martin Plaza

San Martin Plaza

Monument to fallen soldiers in the Falklands War

Monument to fallen soldiers in the Falklands War

Woz and a English/Argentine postbox

Woz and a English/Argentine postbox

Still, it was an interesting tour, and was a good opportunity to get to know Buenos Aires even better.

We got the Subte back from Recoleta to the hostel where we continued our newfound DrinksInTheEvening tradition. Warren was on Furnet and Coke. Furnet is a popular drink here in Argentina – not sure if it’s Italian in origin? At any rate, our guide the day before had said: you drink whiskey to get depressed, beer with football, and Furnet when you want to party.

It was a party of one for WoWo. I stuck to wine instead (but did finish off the bottle). Ryan and Marie were in the common area, so we had another good chat with them until midnight. Ryan sampled some of Woz’s Furnet as well. Apparently, it grows on you.

We were all in the common area to work on our travel blogs, but distracted each other enough to get very little accomplished.

If you’re interested in the lovely Scottish couple’s travels across Latin America (they do loads more excursions and trekking than us as they’re hardcore), check out their blog: blog.

16 Dec

It’s been a proper Sunday today. We decided to walk to the San Telmo area with Ryan and Marie.

It pissed it down on the way to the markets (Why didn’t we pack an umbrella?!). The markets in San Telmo all seemed to be selling antiques.

Right up Woz’s street!

The main sorts of things that were on offer were: soda bottles (fancy Argentinian ones...can’t explain better than that I’m afraid), old pull down maps of the country and continent, posters, and loads of old tat.

We hid in the indoor market for a bit trying to wait out the rain, but ended up back outside where we bought some old sheet music to frame when we get back to the States.

Also purchased some magnets for the fridge as Woz isn’t impressed with our current collection.

All of us were pretty cold and too cheap to pay for coffees in the touristy area, so bought some overpriced empanadas in from the indoor market and headed back to the hostel.

In the afternoon, we went booking mad and made reservations for the rest of our hostels and bus journeys. We were a little worried we’d have issues with the dates over Christmas, but all was well.

Apart from that pesky Santiago-Lima flight.

No buses were travelling from Santiago to Lima over the holidays, so we had to splash out on very expensive flights instead. We’re over it now, but if you do decide to travel over the holidays, we recommend you stay in one place for the last week of December.

17 Dec

Marie and Ryan got our room when we checked out. They’re hoping that as it’s further from the kitchen and bathrooms, it will have fewer cockroaches. Eek.

We tracked down an internet cafe where we could print all those tickets we bought yesterday, and took out some cash money to exchange in Uruguay.

We also ventured into La Boca (literally, the mouth – of the river). This area was highly recommended in guidebooks and websites due to its colourful buildings and tango in the streets. We found it to be a photogenic place, but full of people trying to drag you into bars with overpriced drinks, pin flags onto your shirt for money, beg for your custom in their shops, etc.

La Boca

La Boca

Poserrrr

Poserrrr

Colourful Corner in La Boca

Colourful Corner in La Boca

There were also “tango dancers” dotted around hoping to pose for photographs with you for a few pesos. We were less than impressed.
Additionally, we’d heard a couple horror stories about people getting mugged in the area, and we weren’t super comfortable walking around with our new swish camera.

In total, we spent less than thirty minutes in the area. What a shame.

We hopped back into a taxi to San Telmo where we hoped to explore further (now it wasn’t raining). This meant we got to see the plaza without antiques vendors, and after a good search around, we found a cheap pizza place to spend our last 40 pesos.

After lunch, we walked to the docks area in Puerto Madero. This was a really nice neighbourhood with loads of big name companies and their staff having lunch in expensive trendy restaurants. I’m glad our bellies were full of cheap pizza, or I would have been envious.

Buenos Aires from the docks

Buenos Aires from the docks

DSC_3207.jpgPuppeteer arms

Puppeteer arms

Buenos Aires also has an ecological park near to the docks. We had a little sit down in the grass here, but were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. We pushed ourselves on back to the hostel.

Our ferry across the river to Montevideo left quite early in the evening compared to our recent night bus departures. We left the hostel around 5 to get to the Colonia Express docks. Immigration here was a piece of piss – both Argentina/Uruguay stamps were taken care of without question.

I suppose there was the little mishap where they had given my passport to another girl in the waiting area. Thankfully, she handed it to me soon after.

We were excited for the ferry (it was a proper boat this time, no rafts for miles!). The trip was pretty quick and uneventful. There were expensive gaseosas available (and a duty free), but no water.

Ferry!

Ferry!

It wasn’t quite dark yet by the time we arrived to the Uruguayan coast...

Posted by alexis.johnson 22.12.2012 08:55 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Catching up with Che and Bertie

sunny 40 °C

10 Dec

So we arrived to Cordoba in time for breakfast, hurray! The hostel is about 20 min walk from the centre – not too shabby (says Warren, only with his own colloquialisms). Our room overlooks a main road, but it’s otherwise really nice. The ceilings are super high, and for some reason, we’ve been given the six-bed dorm as a private double.

This means we’ve got a bunk for Woz’s crap, a bunk for mine, a kitchen bunk, and one to spare. All for the price of a private double, shared bathroom!

Woz realized this morning that he had lost his wallet somewhere. We searched all of our bags twice, and contacted our last hostel, but no luck. He didn’t have any cash in it anyway, just a few cards and his English driving licence. We cancelled the cards today and will sort him out a driving licence when we get back to the States (his idea, not mine).

As far as the actual city of Cordoba is concerned, we went to a Jesuit Crypt in the city centre. It was recommended in the LP, but it was a bit of a disappointment. There wasn’t any dead stuff or skeletons to speak of! Having said that, it got us out of the hostel and only cost 4 pesos for the both of us, so not a massive loss.

We decided to get a better map from Tourist Information on the main plaza, and also went into the cathedral which was cool compared to the temperature outside. We dropped a bit of change in their donations box as well, so I didn’t feel so guilty about checking things out indoors.

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It reminded me of Baz Luhrmann’s take on Romeo + Juliet; I guess that goes to show how Europeanised it is here in Argentina.

Consulting our new shiny map, we walked around the Jesuit Block; a UNESCO world heritage site. The buildings were mostly pretty old and cool looking, but occasionally there’d be a 70s cement heap chucked into the mix.

A Jesuit building thinger

A Jesuit building thinger


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Manzana Jesuit thingy statue

Manzana Jesuit thingy statue

Apparently Cordoba is known for its universities and there were loads of students in the area. There were quite a lot of bars and cafes as well to serve this sort of clientele; all in all we thought it was a bit rundown and preferred pretty Salta.

These ladies were sweating as much as me

These ladies were sweating as much as me

11 Dec

Well, today changed our perspective a bit. We took a different route to the city centre this morning, and it was a lot...friendlier than yesterday’s.

We bought tickets to Buenos Aires through our hostel, saving us the taxis to/from the terminal, and decided we’d visit Alta Gracia tomorrow to check out the Casa del Che – a museum about his life. The staff in the hostel explained that we could rock up to the terminal and buy tickets before we wanted to go; it was all very straightforward.

We again tried a public post office here in Cordoba to send Ash some post, but the queue was massive (I’m talking over two hours wait) so we gave up on that, and decided to wait until Buenos Aires to try again.

CINERAMA

CINERAMA

The variety of food available in Argentine super markets has been exceptional. We had a package of rice for tea.

That sounded like I was taking the piss, but I wasn’t. It was really tasty Uncle Ben’s sort of rice. A+.

In addition for the planning for tomorrow, we’ve also been super forward thinking and booked/paid for a tango show in Buenos Aires via TangoTix (a website).

Woz also found a free walking tour we hope to take advantage of in the big ol’ city. (Called Buenos Aires Free Walking Tours, if you’re interested.)

We slapped ourselves around a bit to get back to the present and into Cordoba. We decided to walk around Nueva Cordoba and watched some water dance (big fountain). Oh, and the Capuchino church deal:

Fountains in Nueva Cordoba

Fountains in Nueva Cordoba

Capuchino

Capuchino

Capuchino II

Capuchino II

After snapping these shots, we carried on walking, and had ice cream near another park/plaza dealio before trekking back.

Helado = Happiness

Helado = Happiness

After supper, the lady at reception commented on how my skin looked horribly red, and explained in great detail a special plant called: aloe vera. Oh, you’ve heard of it? Yeah, so had I.

She was so concerned about my skin in her somewhat drunken state, she cut some up for me and encouraged me to smear it all over my arms and face.

I wasn’t even properly sunburned – that’s just the colour of my skin!

Anyway, she was nice and was concerned for my health. I shouldn’t be so harsh...

12 Dec

Today was 41*C. HOOOOTTT. It’s our final day in Cordoba, and the heat is overwhelming. There was a lot of butt sweat. (I’ll leave the photo out of the blog for those of you with weak stomachs.)

At breakfast, we met some young American lads who gave us some travel advice for Buenos Aires. They’d been attending uni there for the last semester and had just broken up; they were doing a bit of travelling before heading back to los Estados Unidos.

They gave us a few restaurant and tourist attraction recommendations, but made us feel properly old.

We checked ourselves out of the room, and deserted our bags for the day to kill time in Alta Gracia. The staff were right; we turned up to the terminal, bought tickets, and were on a bus within 20 minutes. Tickets to Alta Gracia only cost 9 AR pesos per person, per journey. The trip took about an hour.

After having lunch in a mystery park we wandered around aimlessly looking for tourist information. We decided instead to wait for a taxi to collect us and take us directly to the museum. This was the right choice.

Tickets into the Che Museum were free for people living in Alta Gracia, 15 AR pesos for Argentineans, and 75 pesos for foreigners. Glad to know we’re keeping them up and running.

It was a worthwhile experience in the end, and we’re both pleased we made the effort to get out there. Especially as we had recently read both Che and Alberto’s travel journals.

Replica of Guevara   Granado's bike

Replica of Guevara + Granado's bike

Woz. Loving the museum.

Woz. Loving the museum.

el Che

el Che

Back in Cordoba for the afternoon, we walked back from bus terminal to the hostel. An uneventful event made slightly more eventful by a dog that decided to follow us for 30 minutes. She continually checked our location if she fell back or had gone too far ahead.

A local tried giving her some water and told me the reason she was following us was because she was thirsty. She’d just had a massive drink in a fountain though, and gave the water a quick sniff before catching us back up.

A few blocks before we reached our hostel, she lost us. Woz was pretty sad, but I was glad – it was too hot for her to sit outside our hostel doorway where we couldn’t provide her with any food. Hopefully she found a giant steak somewhere.

From then on we camped out on the hostel’s roof terrace until it was time to leave for the bus terminal tat 9ish in the evening. The bus journey to Buenos Aires was easy, and we both managed to get quite a lot of sleep. There were a couple of younger (well-behaved) kids sat in front of us, and I woke up to the girl being sick, but fortunately we were nearly to the terminal.

We did a swift feet up/bags up routine, and were pleased that she’d not yet had breakfast.

Posted by alexis.johnson 22.12.2012 08:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Salta Salta

sunny 33 °C

Really fantastic staff here at La Posada de Don Simon. This one is another family-run jobbie, with a madre who speaks only English, but gestures enough for you to get the picture. And when in doubt, she’ll just give a shout and her son (who’s been travelling himself; probably a similar age to us) appears to translate, and to help you buy beer.

Hero.

Woz and I tried on two occasions to purchase beer on our own in Salta. We weren’t sure what they said the first time, but we assumed we needed ID. We brought ID the second time, but were still denied. Apparently you’ve got to bring in an empty beer bottle, hand it do security that then provides you with a ticket that enables you to purchase another bottle from the store.

It would be really useful to speak Spanish (better than I do). I’d be interested to know why this is the way it is, but it seems no one can really explain in English.

Something else I don’t fully understand: the postal system.

I asked where the nearest post office was, but the hostel staff tried to explain that it was closed or it was shit or there was a strike. I don’t actually know what they tried explaining if I’m honest. The private OCA they sent us to was closed at any rate. We’ll look for another public correo argentina in Cordoba.

Today, the 8 December, we tried to buy bus tickets to Cordoba from a travel agent, but her internet/landline/mobile phone weren’t working. We thanked her for attempting each of the above methods, but ended up buying from bus terminal instead.

The lovely gentleman at the Veloz del Norte desk (bit of a Mr Bean character) very enthusiastically pointed the picture of the bus and repeated VELOZ DEL NORTE, VELOZ DEL NORTE! It was a bit like Pictionary, only he could only speak to us in Spanish. They must get tourists even thicker than us through here.

We walked past the teleferico here, but it was way more expensive than the one in Cochabamba. We took a photo, and carried on our way to see some statue out in the boondocks (felt like it, as I'm properly lazy).

Humidity   Alexis = lion's mane

Humidity + Alexis = lion's mane


Cable car in Salta

Cable car in Salta

Cable car in Salta - a bit out of our price range

Cable car in Salta - a bit out of our price range

We also visited the Artisan Market here in Salta, but the souvenirs are starting to all look the same. The same bracelets and earrings (and baby alpaca socks) are for sale here as they were in Peru and Bolivia. There’s a bit more silver around here, but that’s out of our price range really.

Afterwards, we bought some empanadas (similar to saltenas; a Cornish pasty sort of thing) from some old lady’s living room. Woz was totally taken with them, and talked about how tasty they were for the remainder of the afternoon.

We walked for an hour until we made it back to the hostel. We tried some Yerba mate that we had purchased from the supermarket. It’s a bit different to the coca mate in Peru and Bolivia. We both think it has a bit more flavour. This is a bonus, as it’s apparently illegal to bring coca mate into the USA, but not yerba mate.

We smoked and drank (like rockstars) before bed...

Cigarro Numero Dos

Cigarro Numero Dos

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Not really a good look for me

Not really a good look for me

9 Dec

So despite Nan’s Living Room looking a popular establishment yesterday (and the food being hotter than the sun), we’ve both got the poops today. Gutted.

Both still keen to give these another go though as they tasted so good going down.

We decided to walk to the touristy area where there are many penas (a folky sort of musical show/dinner thing). We won’t be able to see one due to the bus tickets to Cordoba blowing our budget, but wanted to see the street anyway.

We found another craft market in the street (and cafe toilets timed exceedingly well). I bought some earrings and a metal wristband – hopefully to last longer (and smell better) than the other string/fabric type ones I’ve bought in the past. Woz is keen to buy something for the walls, but not having any luck with the tight ass budget he’s set.

For lunch, we made a second attempt at empanadas. This time we ordered four each of beef, chicken, and cheese from a restaurant. They didn’t taste as good as yesterday’s, but our tummies have been better. (Thanks, Immodium.)

Guermo   Woz

Guermo + Woz

Cathedral

Cathedral

Our bus to Cordoba left at about 8pm, so we once again had plenty of time to kill. We bought a couple yerba mate ‘gourds’ from the supermarket and paid a quarter of the price they were asking in the markets. They’re not as nice, but hopefully more practical.

We liked the family at the hostel so well, that we decided to give them our last gift of English tea and a postcard from Iowa. We were also sick of carrying the tea around, so this was a bonus for everyone. They seemed very grateful; I hope they like black tea.

We got to the terminal early (as usual), and to add to this, things are far more organised here than they were in Peru and Bolivia; it didn’t take long at all to get checked in.

The Veloz del Norte bus was a bit fumey but good. We had ace seats downstairs and were given blankets and pillows again for the first time in ages. They showed one of the newer Twilight films, but I couldn’t hear it for shit (and it was in English, darnit!). Afterwards, they put on Taken 2 which was so bloody loud I couldn’t sleep ‘til it was over.

I know. I'm impossible to please.

Posted by alexis.johnson 22.12.2012 07:31 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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