After a long and painful border crossing into Argentina, Shelly and I were only too glad when we reached the city of Salta.
Salta, as far as cities go is an attractive city, surrounded by forested mountains.
We caught the cable car up to Cerro San Bernardo which had impressive views of the city.
At the summit, there were gardens and waterfalls.
With a jam packed schedule for Peru and Bolivia, Shelly and I were both looking forward to travelling at a more relaxed pace throughout Argentina.
No South American city would be complete without a cathedral set in its main plaza and Salta is no exception.
Shelly and I have an earthquake/natural disaster emergency plan in place if we ever get separated. The plan is to meet in front of the main doors of the main cathedral in the main plaza of the city we’re in (or the closest equivalent).
Lucky that isn’t something we have to worry about. Instead, we passed the time drinking tea in one of the cafes on the plaza and visiting the Museum of High Altitude, which houses a collection of exhibits from Inca high altitude shrines.
After a relaxing couple of nights in Salta, we caught a bus to the mountain town of Cachi.
The views along the way were beautiful.
The town was pleasant but small. It had a sleepy feel to it.
We had dinner at a restaurant where I got to try a local speciality. Quinoa and white wine risotto baked in a pumpkin.
We walked up to the lookout in the morning but other than that, there is not much else to do in the town.
After unsuccessfully trying to catch a bus to Molinos or a cambio/taxi to either Molinos, Angnastaco or Cafayate, we realised this region is better explored with a car at your disposal.
We had enquired into car rental in Salta but our options were either too expensive or non existent due to the approaching Easter break.
With this in mind, we decided to brave the 18 hour bus journey to Mendoza.
We bought tickets for the executive cama (seats that recline) bus which set us back a whopping $110! They were very worth it though as we were able to lie back and sleep for a large portion of the journey as well as watch movies.
Unfortunately having a working TV meant that I didn’t pay any attention to the views outside the window (as I normally would do). I did manage a quick look outside between movies and wasn’t disappointed.
Mendoza is a very well known wine region in Argentina and this was the major drawcard for us.
It is a city of wide avenues and lots of shops.
It´s main square is the Plaza of Independence which has a fountain surrounded by a small park.
There are various horseriding and trekking excursions in the nearby mountain area but the main tourist activities involve the wineries.
We opted for the cycling wine tour, where we hire bikes and visit each of the wineries for a tasting.
We visited a wine museum first but didn’t go on the tour as it was in Spanish.
It was still nice to look around.
At least we were able to appreciate the free glass of Malbec wine.
The second stop was my favourite as we got to taste balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tapenades, olives, a shot of liqueur and chocolate.
Needless to say, we bought some chocolate.
The third stop was the same sort of tasting but in a nicer environment.
It was a beautiful day for cycling, neither hot nor cold.
We had a light lunch at the beer garden before making our way to Trapiche, a high end winery.
We were taken on a 40 minute tour of the winery and were given 4 tastings.
We caught the 13 hour night bus to Buenos Aires, arriving to peak hour traffic and the morning rush hour.
Buenos Aires is an elegant and cosmopolitan city.
I immediately felt at ease as it’s similar to any large European city. I could have easily been walking around Madrid. Even its metro system is similar.
We stayed in Palermo for the first two nights. It is an upmarket and chic district, filled with cafes, restaurants, boutiques and a few beautiful parks.
I don’t think I have seen many parks in Europe as beautiful as the main park in Palermo.
We visited Plaza de Mayo, of which held the presidential palace that Eva Peron gave her rousing speech from.
The main city cathedral surprised us as it looked like a Roman temple. It came as no surprise that an Italian architect designed it.
We decided to ease ourselves into the city with some retail therapy.
The pedestian shopping mall was the longest we had ever seen in a city.
There was plenty to see there, including impromptu tango street performances.
Argentinians are fond of a sweet paste called Dulce de leche which is basically caramelised condensed milk.
It is delicious. I’ve been trying to avoid it but have not been able to resist all temptation.
One of our favourite sights around Buenos Aires is the professional dog walkers.
We visited the beautiful Recoleta cemetery.
It is where Evita (Eva Peron) and many famous diplomats, past presidents, poets and other echelons of society are buried.
I thought Evita’s mausoleum would be more elaborate, given how beautiful some of the other crypts are.
Given that the cemetery is free to enter, I wondered how it is maintained so well.
I suppose it costs a fortune to be buried there.
We visited the Japanese Garden in Palermo, hoping to see Bonsai trees.
I only saw a few bonsai plants but we found a Japanese cafe serving Japanese curry, which is a very good consolation prize.
What visit to Argentina would be complete without sampling some true blue Argentinian steak?
Shelly and I headed to La Estancia to sample some of the steak everyone has been raving about.
While the steak was nice, I was more impressed with the wine.
Shelly is now a Malbec fan.
We couldn’t finish the steak as there was just too much meat but we didn’t waste a drop of wine.
We finished the evening at Tango Porteno, a flashy professional Tango show.
The dances were very good, despite the show being aimed at tourists.
After a week long visit to Patagonia (see Patagonia blog post), we returned to Buenos Aires where Shelly had Lasik eye surgery. Her surgery was a success so we celebrated over dinner with our new French friends, Warren and Francois whom we met in Patagonia.
They took us to a restaurant called Juana M in the Retiro district where we polished off two bottles of nice wine , helped ourselves to a generous unlimited salad bar and Shelly and I shared ribs and a 400gm piece of tender and delicious steak.
The meal cost us $25 each. You can’t get that kind of quality meal and wine for that price in the UK or in Australia.
On our final day in Buenos Aires, Shelly and I went shopping and watched a movie. We stayed at Francois’s apartment that evening, which gave us the opportunity to see Palermo Soho, a very trendy area in Buenos Aires.
The area has plenty of boutique shops, bars and restaurants. It has great nightlife and is very self contained. I felt as though we were peeling off more layers of this electrifying city.
We had dinner at a Mediteranean restaurant with yet more great wine and company. It was great to leave Buenos Aires on such a high note.
Shelly and I flew to Puerto Iguazu, a touristy town built 20km from Iguassu Falls.
Iguassu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguassu River located on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
It is considered by many to be one of the natural wonders of the world.
We met up with Jess at our hostel and headed into the national park to view the falls.
The park itself is very well organised. There are five main paved tracks throughout the park which offer different viewpoints.
As river levels were so high, the San Martin island track was inaccessible.
Our first stop was the Devil’s Throat circuit which we caught a train to.
The Devil’s throat viewpoint is the main attraction on the Argentinian side of the falls.
It’s very impressive on sight so it was a good vantage point for our first viewing of the falls.
We could hear the thunderous sound of the falls from afar and see the mist a km away.
While the national park was very touristy, it was still less tacky than the tourist centre of Niagara Falls.
The park is full of birds and butterflies.
The butterflies were attracted to bright colours……….
while the birds just wanted food…..
We hopped on a dinghy which took us down the river.
I thought it was likely that the river had crocodiles but I certainly didn’t want to see proof of it.
Other than that, it was a very relaxing ride.
We were dropped off at the start of the trail to the Superior and Inferior circuit.
We walked along the Inferior circuit, making new furry friends along the way.
The circuit gave us amazing views of the falls and lead us to the Bossetti falls.
It also led us to Dos Hermanas, which gave us a chance to get really close.
We also got slightly wet.
We saved the best for last and hopped on a speedboat that took us for a spin near the falls. We were given lifejackets and told to put ALL our belongings in a waterproof bag provided by the tour company.
The ride up the river to the falls is pretty fun as the boats are powered by the two large motors needed to navigate the rapids.
The captain drives as close to the falls as possible in order to get the passengers completely soaked!
There is just no avoiding getting wet, even if you wear a raincoat and a shower cap (not that we would wear them in public)
With this, we end our wonderful holiday in Argentina.