6) A short stay in Salta, North Argentina – 12 to 16 hours on a public bus (with toilets on board) from Chile to Salta. The border crossing check routine roughly takes from 2 to 4 hours, depending on how many people are there and how fast border officials work.
The border – Be careful what food you buy when you are at a border crossing, where it can be very strict on what kind of things are brought into a country (when I arrived in Chile, all of our bags went through a scanner). No vegetables, fruit or animal products that are not processed – even cheese. Nuts, cookies and crisps are fine. So, eat before the border. We crossed the Andes mountain range, where the scenery is of course, beautiful, winding and high and it was our last day at high altitude.
Food – There are not so many restaurants for vegetarians that I could find, but for fish eaters trouts is a worthy option, if a little on the expensive side. Breakfasts are limited, many people choosing toast and marmalade, but far more popular locally are media lunas, a golden, flaky biscuit similar to a croissant but covered with a sweet, sticky glaze. We loved the ice cream shop Dipsydo’s, in the main square.
Activities –I have listed some optional activities. With only a day and a half, we decided to tour the city by foot and take a cable car to check out the city from above.
- Full Day Cafayate Gorge – a wine tasting tour, the drive is 4 hours.
- Horseback riding with barbecue included. The horseback ride is about 2.30 hours followed by a real Argentinian BBQ, the price is the same for vegetarians.
- Rafting with barbecue included – (more river floating than rafting).
Buildings – There are churches amidst orange and red buildings. We appreciating the colonial architecture that the town has preserved with buildings dating back to the 16th century. It is bit further right on the main square so don’t miss it!
Iglesia San Francisco’s church and tower stands 177’ high and has history since 1625. It has been rebuilt several times to retain its impressive aesthetic form and bold contrasting colors of Italian-influenced architecture.
Iglesia Nuestra Senora de La Candelaria de La Vina church – another colorful church south of the main square.
Inca Mummies small museum – There is a museum with mummies found in the top of a volcano (2 hours more or less away). The story goes that the mummies and children were frozen 500 years ago, 6,739m high up in the Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina. I didn’t realise this was in Salta! Plaza 9 de Julio, the main square, is by the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña, a museum which exhibits the 3 Inca children found frozen at the peak of Mount Llullaillaco.
Considering the history of Inca tradition, the display is a bit unsettling when you realise this was a very real child who was murdered. There are some displays of clothing, dolls, and other items used in the daily life of the indigenous people.
The museum said they take visitors feeling towards the exhibition of human bodies into consideration, and the museum offers the option of watching these children.
The Plaza is wonderful for seeing everybody just sit around in the evening and watch or have a bite to eat in, surrounded by bars and historical places.
Florida Street is the main shopping thoroughfare, leading to Plaza San Martín, a busy park that was once the site of a bullfighting arena. It is an interesting shopping area, they have a modern mall with lots of shops.
Galerías Pacífico is a pretty shopping mall which has murals around, and its decoration blew me away. It has 12 frescos (mural painting on wet lime plaster) by artists decorated in 1946. The huge foundations in the middle are my favourite views when I come into the entrance.
The shops are expensive, and I noticed some international chains. Most of the stores are independent but you can also find some stores of Argentinian arts and craft. There is a food court hall and a vegan cafe called Green &Company. I highly recommend Cocina Patagonica shop for its chocolate gifts, and Patagonian ice cream – I kept came back for more. I recommend the pear flavor.
Hop on hop off bus – Like most cities there is a hop on hop off bus, a dandy option to explore historical and cultural landmarks for a day around in the city in 24 stops.
La Boca is not to be missed, colourful houses and all – there are lots of tourists and people everywhere trying to make you pay for a picture, etc. There are plenty of outdoor cafes to eat at & watch tango. Most tango dancers offer quick dance lessons and pose for pictures for a charge (like £3).
Eva Peron – You can’t miss the line drawing of Eva Peron on the side of one of the buildings, a giant tribute to Argentina’s most famous first lady. She is still adored by millions of people and fresh flowers are placed at her tomb everyday. She was from a poor town and became first lady. On the side of the building facing south, the picture on the building is talking to the people, she was loved by the poor, on the other side is just her face, the rich hated her. Her story is interesting, you might have seen this film, starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.
The style of the neighbourhood is rather like in Paris, home to the Recoleta cemetery where Evita was buried. Her body was stolen and then restored as a display next to her husband who died later. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18616380
Teatro Colón (Colón Theater) This is one of the world’s top five opera theatres – breathtaking in size, with a grand central chandelier with 700 lights! I was not prepared to see an opera or ballet like this one, which seats 3,000. Highly recommended.
International sign language – I love to meet other Deaf people during my travels, their different sign language inspires me to learn. Most countries have their own language just like a spoken language, and some use international sign languages which is useful: here is the International Sign Definition.I met these lovely people and they signed Argentine Sign Language, at first we struggled to understand each other so we gestured and used google translation from Spanish language.
Random facts: The standard greeting in Argentina is a kiss on one cheek.
Celebrate Day – Most countries celebrate Mother’s or Father’s Day, and was surprised that they introduced Friend’s Day, a day dedicated entirely to friendships. In the early 1970s, an Argentinian scholar founded Dia del Amigo – he said that he felt connected to everyone on Earth when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Friend’s Day is an official holiday in Buenos Aires, although it is not a national public holiday. Friends gather, parties are held, and everyone gets together late at night to celebrate friendship on July 20th of every year.
This is the penultimate post – the last one will be on Brazil