Salta is a lovely place to spend some time with cobbled streets, older style buildings and some amazing scenery in the surrounding areas.
This is my last day here in Salta or at least last part day since I catch the night bus this afternoon back to Mandoza then straight onto a bus to Santiago Chile.
I decided to write up my few days in Salta in one entry instead of breaking it up by days.
So here it goes…
Monday, 29 November 2010
I arrived in Mendoza about 0715 hours after spending about 19 hours (or there abouts) on the semi cama bus from Mendoza. Despite what quite a few people keep telling me I still think the little bit extra you have to pay for Cama is better than Semi Cama.
Although perhaps the inconsistencies with peoples accounts in part is due to the different standards one can get between the busses of the same class even sometimes with the same company.
My home away from home for the next few days is the Hostal del Centro, about two blocks from the central plaza and main shopping area. After settling in I was debating with myself whether I should go out or get a few hours sleep.
Going out won.
First up was just all that boring stuff one has to do when one travels. Finding coffee, breakfast then money, in that order and coffee being the most important as far as I am concerned!
I ended up back at the hostel briefly and ran into Sarah who I met at the hostel in Mendoza and we ended up going out for a wander. At first we were thinking of having a wander through the museums etc however quickly discovered that many of them were closed.
We went our separate ways Sarah heading to a lookout over the city and I headed back to the bus terminal. I decided to see if I could upgrade my ticket from Semi Cama to Cama for the overnight leg from Salta back to Mendoza. It only ended up costing AR36 more (about $10) to get the better seat so I happily paid the extra.
On the way to the terminal I noticed that the chairlift to Cerro San Bernardo (the lookout over looking the city) was about a block and a half back. So I figured I might as well head up for a look.
AR$25 later with ticket in hand I was in the chairlift raising steadily up the hill. Up the top I ran into Sarah again and after a look around we went for lunch at the cafe and just enjoyed both the view and the day.
Before heading down we wandered through the small Japanese Water garden. Couldn’t help but wonder where all the water for the garden was coming from!
Back down we wandered through the San Francisco Church since it was open. It’s a little hard to miss since it’s candy pink on the outside and just down the end of the block from our hostel.
Next up we wandered through the main plaza then into the Catedral Basilica since it was open as well. I remember looking at one of the statues depicting Mary sitting on a throne in an ornate gown wearing a crown, holding baby Jesus who was also rather ornately dressed complete with crown and who at a guess was one of kings kneeling offering up a gift. Now I’m thinking the story as I remember it was a little different since Mary certainly wasn’t sitting on a throne or wearing a crown but hey, I guess one can put it down to artistic license…
That evening we went out to dinner which included singing and dancing (er professional types that is not me…). It was a pleasant way to spend the evening and round off the day at least.
Tuesday 30 November 2010
Other than the usual disturbances one has in a dorm, waking up briefly when someone came in late then again when someone left in the early hours of the morning I slept really well.
Today I headed off to the High Mountain Archeology Museum which is well worth not only the AR$30 to see but also worth the time. The centre piece of the museum is the remains of one of the mummies that were recovered from the peak of the Llullaillaco volcano. The volcano is about 6739 meters and one of the highest mountains in the Americas.
The Museum take the time to set the scene both in time and in the context of the ancient Incan Empire explaining the history, customs and beliefs. There is also a short video showing you the accent by the team that recovered the mummies, a little of the dig and finally finding the mummies and retrieving them from the graves tombs they rested in.
The exhibit also contains some of the smaller items like the statues, clothing and headdress.
That evening the hostel hosted an Assado (BBQ). We teamed up with some of the guys from one of the other hostels (run by the same people), although we didn’t realize that we were going to the other hostel until we were told the taxi was there. That was ok though since the hostel picked up the tab for that as well.
As one tends to do at the oddest of times when one backpacks I ran into the Spanish guys I meet on my first day in Buenos Aires as they were staying in the other hostel.
We had a fantastic night, great food, even better company filled with tales, plans and dreams and way too much red wine. The night finished off with one of the Spanish guys jumping up and singing karaoke.
Wednesday 1 December 2010
Well today didn’t go to plan, kind of just one of those things that happen. For my last day here I booked myself on a day tour that went around some of the surrounding countryside.
Unfortunately they cancelled at the last minute, way to late for me to arrange to do anything else. I’ve since learnt that it is the pattern here in Salta since there seem to be way too many companies running day tours. They all insist they have the correct amount of people on the tour so it will run. Take your money then cancel at the last minute when they of course do not have enough people to run.
It took a bit of, um, persuasion to get my money back off them. They were quite insistent that I could just do ‘another tour with them tomorrow’. The simple little hindrance of being on a bus traveling to Santiago tomorrow only dampened there enthusiasm a little. Eventually with some reluctance they opened up the cash draw and gave me back my money.
Have to give them points for trying though!
I wandered off to get a coffee since by this stage most of the morning had managed to pass by trying to decide what I was going to do with the rest of the day. Sulking in ones hostel because things didn’t turn out right just so didn’t appeal to me.
On the way to my favourite coffee shop in town I noticed that one of the museums that I’d been trying to visit was finally open. So I decided that the coffee could wait and I wandered in to the museum Historic del Norte. It only cost Ar $5 to get in and I spent a good couple of hours wandering around looking at the various pieces on display from the Inca period right through to colonial times. The display included a collection of uniforms and weapons of General Martin, who’s statue is everywhere in Argentina.
After wandering around that put me back outside in that time of day where everything or almost everything seems to shut down. Have I mentioned that one? Like many cultures where they eat late they seem to shut up shop in the middle of the day here. Don’t even think of tufting to get dinner unless you are cooking for yourself at the hostel much before 2030 -2100 hours here and even then your likely to be one of the early eaters in the place with it only just starting to fill up when you’ve finished eating.
Anyhow that evening for my last meal in town I went to Dona Salta (if you’re in Salta or going there it’s about 50 meters down the road on the opposite side from Hostel del Centro on Cordoba Street). I have to admit I had the best steak I’ve had in Argentina since I got here, it was coked to perfection and tender. I also ordered a plate of vegetables, just had too. Of course that meant I left half my meal behind since the steak by itself was big enough for a meal and the plate of vegetables was also enough by itself to fill one up.
Couples take note order one steak (it’ll cover half the plate) and one vegetable or salad dish then split it between you unless you’re really big eaters!