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Published: June 20th 2017
I was slightly dubious about spending18 hours on a bus, but it was by far the cheapest way to get up to Salta. In fact it wasn't too bad. As we moved north the scenery changed to plains and mountains, looking much more like the Argentina of my imagination. We did pass a double-decker bus by the side of the road which I can only described as decapitated. The prospect of an overnight bus didn't thrill me after that. But it was fine. Even if it did take 20 hours in the end.
We finally arrived at Salta. Our first job was to book onward tickets to Chile. Unfortunately due to a storm the mountain pass was closed and they could not confirm whether or not the bus we wanted would be running. This was unexpected, it's only autumn and the weather is lovely. But things in the mountains are very different. It's a real worry as flights are rather expensive. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed and wait and see.
We'd booked an apartment again, and on the way I'd had to steal some wi-fi on the way to rearrange our meeting time
when it became apparent the bus was running late. When our host didn't arrive on time I wandered off to find wi-fi to email her. In the meantime she showed up. All a bit confusing and the last thing we needed after hours on the road, but it did get sorted. Los Manderinos apartment was fine. As per usual on our budget, nothing fancy. But with a sepearate bedroom and kitchen it was quite spacious and comfortable. Plus it had the ultimate in traveller luxury - a washing machine.
Neither of us had much energy so we popped to a nearby supermarket for frozen pizzas and other supplies then settled down for a quiet night in. Even after our long day it turned into a late one. It's always a temptation to stay up late in an apartment where you have the comforts of home.
Upon leaving the apartment the following morning, almost the first thing we saw were hundreds of gauchos on horseback. They came from all around the region (we later read there were up to 4,500) and it was quite a sight. This was to commemorate the anniversary of General Guemes' death, which also meant
the shops were shut. There seems to be some bank holiday or other in South America every five minutes. Great to see though. The kids looked like they had been born on horseback.
We'd neglected to get onward bus tickets the day before (we're moving around the region a bit before Chile). So we popped back to the bus terminal and picked up tickets for Jujuy. On the way out David spotted a lady selling tamales, one of our weaknesses. We got one each, and they turned out to among the best tamales we'd ever had. Of course this is Argentina, so beef rather the usual pork of chicken. Yummy though.
Next stop was the cable cars, another weakness of ours. It was 200 pesos for a round trip. We managed to snag a car to ourselves which was nice. It was a ten minute ride with a great view of Salta. There was not much at the top but the view was good and there was a cafe. One annoying thing though, we'd paid 100 pesos at the bottom of the hill for the trip down and at the top they sell them for 75 pesos. So
if you plan to go up, just buy a ticket for the ascent and buy the return while you are up there.
We'd planned to go to a museum, but the weather was just too nice, sunny and around 32 degrees. Autumn here seems to be the equivalent of summer back home. In Mendoza it was warm enough for t-shirts as long as you stayed in the sun. Now we are further north it's much hotter. It's the reason we came north really. We would much have preferred to head south to Patagonia but it would be freezing. Oh well, we're now seriously contemplating a summer holiday to Argentina within the next couple of years or so. That way we can do Patagonia properly (i.e. with our camping gear) and have the added bonus of a trip back to Buenos Aires.
We sat in San Martin park for a while then went for a walk around the outskirts of the city and up to a plaza. One thing I have to mention is the sky. I've never seen anything like it. It was the first thing we noticed when we arrived. Some of the clouds had an iridescent
rainbow effect which is quite startling.
We popped into a supermarket for more supplies then headed back to the apartment. I cooked two massive steaks for dinner, no point having a kitchen if you don't use it. Of course it was then another late night, finally going to bed about 3am.
After another lazy morning we had some coffee and toast and headed to the main square, Salta escaped the earthquakes that hit Mendoza so there are more historical buildings. Our main aim was to visit the archeological museum. It was a little pricey at 130 pesos each and it was absolutely tiny. But, to be fair the artifacts on display were stunning. The main draw is the mummified Inca child sacrifices, although we hadn't realised they only display one of the three children at a time. Still, it was interesting as well as rather moving. We saw the youngest girl, about six years old. Of course it was a different time and different beliefs. But it was hard to see how they could have sacrificed the poor little mite.
We wandered around the old town a bit, but the weather was totally different from the previous
day. Chilly even. So we went for some lunch. David thinks we might be getting addicted to steak. He could be right. The restaurant, El Charrua, had good reviews and when we got there it was packed with local people. Luckily a table tucked in the corner was free. We ordered the tira, or short ribs, for a change. It's not topped bife de chorizo in our opinion, but it was good to have a change and we enjoyed it. Best of all was the wine, a Gata Flora Malbec. It was delicious, David said it was the best red he'd ever tasted.
On the way back we passed through the square. People were gathering outside the cathedral and we were treated to the most bizzare, energetic and wonderful, bell-ringing ever. It sounded like the intro to a Sepultura song. We watched that for a bit, leaving when the kids started to sing. On the way back we yet again had to call into a supermarket. It was getting cold so we decided to stay in and cook again.
We managed an earlier night as there was to be no sleeping in. We had to check out at
10am (the norm in Argentina but it seems early to us). On the way to the bus station we stopped off for a light breakfast at Van Gough cafe on the square. I'd highly recommended that you AVOID this place. They were clearing up unfinished juice from customers who left, and then giving the same glasses of juice to new customers! Needless to say we didn't drink ours.
Salta has been a good stop for us. We enjoyed the warmer weather, the apartment, the town itself, and I especially enjoyed the cable-car. We're only moving two hours north next. Hoping for some nice scenery, and that the road to Chile reopens.
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