Argentina - Cordoba

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June 9th 2017
Published: June 10th 2017
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David here...

The 7 hour bus journey from Rosario to Cordoba was hell, hell I tell you. Actually it wasn't at all, it was surprisingly comfortable and the people on this bus seemed to have a bit of consideration for once. We both read, dozed, watched the scenery pass by, ate the lovely ham and cheese sandwiches Suzanne had prepared the night before, and before we knew it we were in Cordoba. The bus station was only a few minutes from our apartment but we were quite early to meet the host so wandered round for a bit. The place seemed to have a vibrancy missing from Rosario and numerous choices for food and drink.

We got to our apartment just before 17:00. Ana was waiting for us and showed us into the lovely apartment at Barclava Deluxe. Clean and modern, it had a seperate bedroom and a proper dining area and sofa. It immediately felt comfortable. We rushed out, bought supplies for the evening and breakfast and settled in for the night. We had a creamy tomatoey vegetable pasta, and no alcohol for a change.

The following morning, after a light breakfast we made our way to the bus station and bought tickets for a day trip out the next day and for our onward travel a couple of days after that (a day later than planned, more on that later). We managed to do all of this in Spanish, even getting a discount on the expensive tickets for cash. Feeling pleased with ourselves, we decided to go for lunch. We wanted to try an Argentinan classic, lomitos. Steak sandwiches very reminiscent of the wonderful chivitos we had in Uruguay.

We picked out the highly rated Betos Lomos chain, expecting a fast food type of place. We arrived and found an actual restaurant with wine glasses and complimentary bread. Yet the food came out at a fast food pace and was served on metal trays. Suzanne had one with peppers and bacon in it and I went for, what Suzanne called 'the fat b*stards' sandwich, which had double steak in it plus ham, cheese, egg and salad. Both were delicious, better than a chivitos in my opinion as the meat is slightly more tender. We really didn't need the bacon and cheese fries with it, but they were also lovely.

Feeling stuffed, we wandered round the city, looking at some of the sights while the sun was out. We saw some wonderful architecture, the cathedral and many squares with tons of activity. There is also a big shopping area here, already we liked Cordoba a little better than Rosario. We tried to get into a park near our apartment however couldn't find a way in as it appeared walled off for most of the perimeter and as we could see what might be the worlds worst big wheel, it looked like it belonged in a prison. We gave up and headed back to the apartment with more supplies for cooking that evening. We were also feeling a little under the weather as we both appear to have picked up colds.

After another veggie pasta we decided to hit the town and try to find some Rock, despite feeling rough. We dosed up on Ibuprofen and walked first to one bar (shut) and then to our second choice, which was open but playing some Argentine pop. We decided to have one drink before heading back to the apartment, where we had some sparkling wine and a beer each before bed.

We were up at 07:30 the next morning for cereal and then it was out to the bus station to catch our 09:00 bus to Villa General Belgrano, a small town about 2 hours away. We'd decided to visit it because the village was settled by a lot of Germans who have built the town up in the style of an Alpine village, making it a big tourist attraction, plus we miss visiting Germany.

Sure enough, as our bus approached the town, among some of the most beautiful scenery we've seen in Argentina so far, you could see that many of the buildings looked Alpine and German, most of which sported German or German Regional flags. We felt right at home. We wandered into the centre and walked from one end of town to the other and back again, stopping off at Cafe Rissen for a coffee and a lovely piece of selva negra, or black forest gateau. We felt like we could be in Germany with all the steins for sale, the references to Oktoberfest, which is celebrated in town as well, and all the flags we recognised. We loved it. We spent about 2 hours walking and looking at the shops before deciding to have lunch at Viejo Munich.

Suzanne went for beef goulash and I went for smoked pork with patas bravas. We also had a pint of the Viejo Munich beer each. The meal was going well until I found a screw in my meal. Yes, you read that right, a 1 inch screw underneath my patas. We showed it to the waitress who gasped and took the plate away. She then came back and asked if I wanted the same meal. I said yes and about 5 minutes later I got a fresh plate. No apology and no gesture when the bill came. A little disappointing, a bit like the food really.

After the meal we wandered town again, sitting down next to the stream that runs through the back of the town in the sun for a while before heading to the bus station and jumping on the next bus back to Cordoba. It was really great to get out of the city and to a smaller town, a bonus that it felt like Germany. It would've been great to have seen the place in high season or during Oktoberfest as we could imagine the place being great fun with all the bars, restaurants and little beer stalls all being open.

After relaxing a little we went out and tried Ruta 40 bar again and found it open. We bought 2 litre bottles of beer (under £2 each) and ended up staying for about 2 hours. The music wasn't anything we knew but was pretty heavy and Argentinian. It was a pretty relaxed evening. On the way back to the apartment we stopped off at Lo De Jacinto Empanadas and bought 6 empanadas (a carne, a carne picante and a pollo each) and bought a beer each from a nearby kiosk. The empanadas were the best we've had since Colombia and came with a little 2 letter key stamped into the crust, so you could identify the flavour easily. A very tasty late supper.

We were ready to leave the next morning by 10:00 when Ana arrived. We walked the 5 minutes to Hotel Casa Urbana and dropped our bags off before heading out again to do some shopping. I won't bore you with details but we did manage to buy new trousers each, I got 2 new Metal t-shirts and a replacement ear stud for the one I lost earlier in the trip.

We went to Patio de la Cañada for a steak lunch, which was divine. We had a bottle of Malbec to go with our cuts of vacio and bife de chorizo and had mashed potato and chips as sides. The bill came to £30 with a tip and was a lovely experience. We are really enjoying the steak and wine in Argentina, we're yet to have a bad example of either. As it sometimes does, it hit me just how lucky we are to be where we are, doing the things we're doing.

We got back to the hotel and checked in properly and relaxed for a few hours before hitting the town again. Argentina has some very strange opening hours for shops, restarants and bars. Some shops are open all day, some shut at lunch and some don't open until late in the day. Restaurants usually open for lunch until about 15:00 and again in the evening until late. Bars don't usually open until gone 21:00.

Zombi's Rock Bar opened later than most. So it wasn't until 22:00 that we made our way out. This place was the entire reason we'd extended our stay in Cordoba by a night. We were due to leave on the Thursday morning, but then read about the place, and discovered that it was shut until Thursday night. As you can see from the panorama at the top of this blog, we had high hopes that this would be a proper Heavy Metal bar so thought it worth the gamble. As it was a last minute decision to stay, the apartment was not available, hence moving to a hotel.

As we arrived they were playing U2, not a good sign. However the music soon perked up and by the end of the night we had only heard one or two songs that we didn't recognise, we could sing along to practically to every song. The guys behind the bar were really friendly and we were soon settled in with a big litre beer and some crisps, which kept being refilled (good as we'd skipped dinner). The music mix was great, going from classics to newer stuff. Of course we got the obligatory Manowar!

As it approached 03:00 we decided to have one more beer before heading back to the hotel. We'd drunk about 6 or 7 beers already so were quite tipsy. When I went to pay, the staff had a quick discussion and gave us the beer 'en la casa' (on the house), a lovely touch. We were about to leave at 03:30 when they then brought round free empanadas for everyone so we then had yet another beer before leaving at around 04:00, just one hour before closing time. We'd had a wonderful night, Zombi's being right up there with Dynasty in Bogota as one of our favorite bars we've been to on our travels.

We woke the next morning with the alarm at 08:45 and promptly turned it off and stayed in bed until 10:00, missing breakfast but we needed the sleep more. It was then quick showers and checking out of the hotel, leaving our bags with them again. It's fair to say that we were not feeling that perky so our first stop was a cafe for coffee and some empanadas before going to the nearby park (found the entrance this time!) to watch the world pass by for an hour. We then had another coffee before heading to the Palacio Ferreyra - Evita Fine Arts Museum,

The gallery was really good and cost 15 pesos each, about 70p, well worth a visit. We then walked to the free Museo Genaro Perez gallery, which was small but still had a few pieces worth looking at. The restaurant we picked out said on their website that they were open all day, but was actually shut. So we had a lomito each at a random family run cafe in the main shopping area. It was tasty enough. Nowhere near as good or filling as the first ones we'd had, but it was much cheaper. It was then back to the hotel where we picked up our bags and sat in reception while we charged devices up and prepared ourselves for another overnight bus journey.

We loved Cordoba. We'd read that Rosario had the happening nightlife and Cordoba was more a functional place with not much going on. We'd also read that Cordoba is like a mini Buenos Aires, which is much nearer to the truth. It has a vibrancy and life about it that Rosario was just missing. It helped that the apartment we stayed in was so nice and of course we had Ruta 40 and the exceptional Zombi's to look back on. We're seriously considering coming back on ourselves to revisit Cordoba and Buenos Aires we enjoyed them so much but a lot of that is going to be down to how much we are enjoying the rest of Argentina, which from what we've experienced so far is going to be a lot.

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