Monday, February 21, 2011

Salta, northern Argentina

For those of you that follow both my pictures and blogs on Facebook, apologies. I have been very remiss in the posting of blogs and now they are a few weeks behind. Today's blog concentrates on my visit to Salta.

I reached Salta, northern Argentina, after another painless, dare I say enjoyable, overnight bus ride from Cordoba. I rocked into the Terminal de Autobuses at 8:30am, jumped in a cab and within a few minutes I was at the Hostel Las Heras. Despite being too early to check in, I got a friendly welcome and was able to store my bags whilst I went off, new map in hand, to find somewhere for strong coffee and breakfast (desayuno). My immediate impressions, confirmed over the next couple of days, were that I was going to enjoy my stay there. A great homely feel to the place, good outside seating options and only a couple of blocks from the main plaza.

Salta turned out to be one of my favourite places in Argentina. A city but with a small town feeling. Beautiful, large plazas. Great restaurants and caf├ęs. An amazing cathedral and the most ornate church I have ever seen, the Iglesias San Francisco (church of Saint Francis).

And very friendly locals. Not to mention a fantastic museum. Now, I must admit, culturally I have been a bit bereft on this trip. I tend to think that once you have seen a museum, you have seen them all. However, that was before I went to the Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana ( A museum dedicated to the finding in the 90's of 3 perfectly preserved Inca children mummies. It was unreal. During an archeology expedition in the Andes around Salta, these mummies and their burial site was stumbled upon. It turns out that the Incas believed that if they sacrificed the children, buried them alive with Inca treasures, then no harm would befall their Inca tribe. And these 3 unfortunate children were the ones sacrificed. The 6 year old girl was in a display cabinet, a bit eerie, and was preserved down to the last detail, including her teeth that were baked into a grimace. Fascinating to witness, but I have to admit, I needed a beer after.

Also in Salta is the Cerro San Bernardo. A hill that gives awesome views all over Salta. For my first visit I decided to walk the 1070 steps to the top. Wow, was that a good idea? I was pissed through in sweat by the time I reached the top. The views made it all worth while. I even walked back down after but made a return visit the next day, this time on the chairlift, Complejo Telefrico Salta, for $25AR. A much more relaxing day, but equally enjoyable.

On my last night in Salta I had planned to have no booze and an early night as I had a 7:00am bus to San Pedro de Atacama the next day. Now as this was an 11 hour bus ride I thought a good nights sleep was the perfect preparation. However. This was before I discovered that there was an asado planned for that night in the hostel. And being the sociable sort, I thought I would join them. And what an asado! Beautiful steak, as much as you wanted. Chorizo sausage and heaps of fresh salad, all washed down with carafes of regional wines. And there was a great bunch having the asado. A couple from Dublin, a couple from the Yukon in Canada (near Alaska apparently, where they regularly contend with -40 degree temperatures) and a couple from Denmark, together with a couple of locals who worked at the hostel.

As I left the hostel to walk to the bus station, in the dark at 6am the following morning, I just wished, just a little bit, that I had a soupcon less wine. Oh well, life is for living.

Until the next time chicas.

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