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Serrania del Hornocal

sunny 16 °C

What sounds like an Indian fight scream is actually our last proper stop before crossing over to Bolivia. It s another little town of 10.000, with narrow cobble stoned streets, a very strong quechuan and Bolivian influence, but also a very charming square with a loevly Cabildo (majors house) where every noon the town patron comes out of a door in the clock tower...one of the most random things we ve seen. It looks a bit like robot trying to do the holy cross. On the streets you find lots of stores selling Lama woollen clothes, socks, hats, gloves (needless to say we had to stuck up on our belongings ;) ), unlimited little food restaurants and women and kids dressed in wonderfully coloured clothes and hats. It s a busy little place and it seems to be more Bolivian than Argentinian yet so far. Our hostel was a nother lovely little place and after Rob had fully recovered we had some lovely walks and also drove up to Serranias del Hornocal which is the Quebrada behind Huamahuaca with some picture postcard views and Lamas alongside the nonexistent road. After a lovely selfcooked dinner we packed and set of to the border at 4:15 in the morning.

Posted by PEANUTSONTHERUN 13:32 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Tilcara, where Rob was almost assassinated :/

getting closer to Bolivia

sunny 25 °C

To break up the long journey to the Bolivian border we decided to stay in two villages one of which was Tilcara. Tilcara be a lovely little spot with just 7000 inhabitants, lots of charming cobbled stoned streets and a beautiful (wunderbar as Rob likes to challenge his German) surrounding Mountainside. Tilcara is set in little valley along the Rio Grande (which appeared to be the tiniest river I have seen so i guess that the Rio Small would be a better title) and dry and hot during the days but freezing cold at night. Unfortunately all our hiking and walking plans to see the countryside were changed after the first night as Rob got food poisoning of a nasty Lama. This wasnt just a minor illness as we all know that Rob is one of the toughest and most macho people we know and it must have been laced with Cyanide. The two days we had in Tilcara ended up to be quite chilled (more chilled for me than Rob I guess) but we still managed to see the forts around town and some of the surrounding mountains. I (Rob here) managed to see all of the toilets in Tilcara which i can tell you are quite the tourist attraction. After our time was up I managed to push my peanut partner on the bus to Humahuaca as planned on the third day. Still we liked Tilcara and it was well worth a stop and we re sure there s lots to do around there.

Posted by PEANUTSONTHERUN 16:33 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Cafayate...stunning scenery, goats cheese and more wine

The place to be and some more!!!

sunny 35 °C

We took the overnight bus from Cordoba sucessfully made it up to Tucuman and mangaed to catch the connecting bus to Cafayate straight away. Whilst Rob dozed off straight away (it was 6 in the morning and he needs his beauty sleep) I tried to stay up and stare outside the windows as the views on the trip are meant to be beautiful. Even though it was hard after a long night bus I was rewarded with some of the most stunning sunrises I ve seen and when the sun painted the mountains at the top of the jouney red and the lake at Tafi del Valle turned into a mirror even Rob managed to open up his sleepy eyes. We drove though little indigenous villlages, saw cowboys chasing horses before the bus made it down the tiny little roads to Cafayate (I passed out for the last hour though but Rob was keen to announce that we were there). Cafayate greeted us with a clear blue sky and 28 degrees, we immediatly felt comfortable in this little town. (Cafayate is a town of 13.000 people. Its lying in a special valley which keeps it s climate quite stable and it s one of the wine regions in Argentina and known for it s amazing Torrontes, which is a fruity, crispy white wine, im also pretty sure that Catha has just copied this from the internet). Our hostel, Casa Arbol deserves a quick mention as we had a lovely time there...the owners (a couple from Malta and Buenos Aires) made it a very pleasant stay and gave lots of great tips. We decided to head out straight away and walked up to the towns Cabras de Cafayate (goats cheese farm). Rob couldn t get enough of the goats and with me not getting his attention anymore I decided to buy some boxes of the goats cheese...which instantly brought his attention back! ;)
The cheese was amazing and as you can imagine that wasn t our last visit there ;). After a lovely first day we had a chilled night and decided to get physical the next day (no innuendo intended). Full of energy and against every single piece of advice given from the locals we decided to give the 9 km bike ride, uphill and over unpaved roads to Domingo Molina (vineyard). After giving the bikes a good check over (Rob kicked one of the tyres and that was his check completed) we set off only to find after around 5 km of uphill cycling we had managed to get on the wrong road and had ended up in the middle of nowhere...but at least with some baby goats and stunning views around us. Luckily we managed to find some farmers that helped us instantly and as our spanish gets a little better we finally found the right way. Full of new energy we set off back down the hill and managed to get half way up the next hill fairly quickly...needless to say we were sweaty and dusty, but still happy. The last few kilometers however really killed us and when we arrived at the vineyard it felt like the best thing ever!!! The woman who greeted us gave us lots of time to recover in the shade, before we started with the tasting of the 8 amazing wines. The tasting was very informative and the host was very welcoming, we were given lots of goats cheese and nuts. which immediatly sent her into Cathas good books. We were sat on a beautiful terrasse, overlooking the whole valley and she would pour more and more again and again. We bought a bottle of wine and even got one tasting for free (a tasting is only 45 pesos anyway ~ 3,50 Euros). The downhill ride to the next Vinyard was lots of fun and the wild horses trotting on the roard seemed to enjoy it as much as we did (i can concur that there was infact wild horses and it wasnt the bottle of wine that had effected our vision). The next stop was another vinyard (Piatelli), a bit more modern and commercial, but still nice and we ended up buying another bottle of Torrontes. I should add that Catha managed to complete the tour without breaking her bike this time!!! We arrived back tired and dusty and then happily found out, that two friends we had met in Mendoza had arrived and were staying in the same hostel. We met up for dinner that night and found a great little Parrila street restaurant. Rob and I had enough time (we had a booked another night), so we decided to join Charlotte and Kieren on their wine tastings the next day and surprised the woman at the Molina Bodega once more. Obviously we had more wine and goats cheese and really happy faces we finished the day off with some empanadas, goats and lentil stews...and very happy faces :). Our friends had decided t stay another day and so we booked a tour for the next day, to get into the Quebrada, which is a stunning mountainside/desert between Cafayate and Salta. The views are just breath taking, the colours change with the sun getting higher and lower. Our non english speaking guide (this comes with a bargain of a cheaper tour ;) ) tried his best and we had a great afternoon...even though an hour long walk in 33 degrees wasnt the greatest at the time but now seems to be one of the best things that we have done. With lots of great pics/memories and a dry throat we entered the first cafe on the main square after the 5 hour tour and enjoyed a large cold coke and beer. Obviously we had to go back to the first days parilla on the same night!!!

Posted by PEANUTSONTHERUN 11:19 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)


second biggest city of Argentina

After a terrible bus ride with Cata transport, no blankets, an unfriendly service guy on the bus, several hours of waiting and then having to change buses as ours had broken down we really didnt think it could get any worse only to find that HostelBookers had failed to book our room again (Catha had wrote this passage and i had to remove all of the swear words that she had used to describe both Hostelbookers and the bus company!!!) We were allowed to stay in the common room of the hostel until we found a new place to stay. Luckily the owner of the hostel rang around and found us a place near to the bus terminal from where we had just been. Needless to say that we were thankful that we had a room but a little annoyed (ive had to change a certain word to annoyed).We arrived at the new place, which had at very nice staff and we got a double room. The day was good, we walked around town. Cordoba has some pretty places, lovely little street markets, amazing empanada take aways and a lot less english speaking people than in Mendoza (ordering a cheese topped piece of meat didn t come quite close to what we thought off when ordering something that had the word pizza in it ;) ). It turned into a nice day and we were pretty happy. We returned to the hostel around midnight only to find that the hostel was full of loud, drunken Argentinians which scuppered the plan for a nice sleep to recharge our batteries. After a rough nights sleep we went to the town of Alta Gracia which was an hour away from Cordoba. Alta Gracia is the town where Che Guevara grew up and started his trips. There is a museum dedicated to Che Guevara in his old childhood home however the enterance fee to the museum was so high that it can only be described as a capitalist venture of the worst kind!! Catha had decided that she didnt want to pay the enterence fee so decided that we should dart through the gate when the guards back was turned. After the museum we headed out of town to a Jesuit monestry located on one of the mountains (small hills) surrounding Alta Gracia. After one of the longest walks any human has ever done we arrived to find a stunning view over the town. As the walk had taken longer than expected we only managed to have a quick stop at the monestry before heading back to Cordoba. It was pretty late when we got back (for us...not for the Argentinians..their late means sometime after 2am) and we decided to grab food, found a nice restaurant and went to bed for a good sleep with a little lie in the morning!!

Posted by PEANUTSONTHERUN 10:59 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza....or "How many bottles of wine can you carry?"

Melbec, Torrontes, Cabernet Sauvignon...any question?

sunny 20 °C

Mendoza, one of the best known places in Argentina...if not THE best known, at least for it s red wines. Mendoza is a mid sized town which spreads out quite far, but it s actual centre is easily walkable and plastered with nice colonial buildings, cafes and plazas. We arrived early in the morning after a surprising good 24 hours bus ride from Madryn and without any trouble made it to the hostel we had booked. As you can tell "without any trouble" in southamerica isnt going to happen...so it ll started when we found a looked door and noone answering our knocking (well door slamming after 5 minutes) at 7 in the morning. We decided to wait until 8 and walked to a cheap cafe at the corner...just to find that after waiting noone still came to the door. To say that we were pretty fustrated was an understatement but we decided to go to McDonalds to get Wifi and check the hostel....happily (NOT) Rob then got an email from the hostel saying that the hostel was very sorry for the inconvinience but there are no room available. (Thanks hostelbookers for the confirmation mail you sent us!!). What a great start for Mendoza! The last thing we wanted to do was to search for hostels at 7 in the morning (sorry 8), after 24 hours on the bus...but...we finally managed to find another room and luckily it wasnt too far away from where we were and also the room was avaliable straight away. When we turned up we even got an upgrade to a little apartment. Punto Urbano (the hostel) turned out to be the best place for breakfast we ve had been so far, having everything you want from omelettes to crepes...! Mendoza itself is a typical South American town as there are not many touristy things to do and more of a place to enjoy, walk around have a coffee and good food. The hostel offered free wine for an hour in the evening and Rob actually had to convince me to go downstairs to try the wine (which is rare thing and shows how tired i was that evening ;) ). We met some nice guys and girls and decided join up for a wine tasting in a little bar in Mendoza the next day. Our planned 2 hour wine tasting session turned into 5 hours and being kicked out cause the place shut down. We had a great Somellier, 5 amazing bottles of Reds an Whites with crackers and a cheese platter and a great time with Kieren and Charlotte. Encouraged by this we bought another two bottles on the way back and stayed up until 3. The wines which we tried were pretty special although we did have a pretty good hangover next morning! :) The only problem we had, was we had planned to do a bike ride to a few vinyards through a little valley in Maipu which was around an hour away on the bus. The bike tour didnt really go down the way we had planned it ;). After we finally made it on the bus to Maipu (with probably 20 people wanting to kill us as we stopped the bus, not knowing that you pay with a swipecard...which unfortunately leads to us not understanding the bus driver trying to explain this... :) I thought I d never survive this drive and seeing the faces of Rob, Kieren and Charlotte didnt show anything different really. We all had our hopes on getting off at the right stop and walk up to Mr. Hugo ( a place supposed to be very nice for bike rentals, discount vouchers for the vineyards and information telling you where to go)...the obvious did happen...we got lost on the bus and jumped off in the middle of nowhere, .... This is when we were tired, hungover and probably looked like a bunch of idiots walking around through random streets of Maipu...just to find all the locals to be unbelievable friendly and trying to help us out. (note to self: Spanish skills NEED to be improved apart from ordering food). Finally we really found a bike shop...not Mr Hugo, but decided to give it a go and least to make it to 2 vinyards (it was 3pm at this time). The ride turned out to be be nice and the first vinyard La Familia di Tomaso was a nice litte place for our first tasting in a beautiful setting, the snowtopped Andes in the back. Our moods started to rise again and after we had a bite to eat (mainly rolls and eggs stolen from breakfast) smiles turned back on our faces. Not for long obviously....one of the bikes got a flat tyre (due to my fat bum) so being true professionals we decided to go to the next vinyard to call the bike rental man to come and replace the bike. The only problem with this was that the closest vinyrard looked like an expensive version of the Ritz (George Hotel if your from Huddersfield) and had a massive gate that was CLOSED. Eventually we were let in and so we cheeky tried asking for a tasting too while we waited for the bike replacement. First we all thought, it was going to be too expensive, but that changed quickly, after our amazing Somellier Juguito kept pouring the wines...he just refilled the glasses again and again (and we still had only payed a basic tasting). After the tasting we we sat on the terrace, in the sun, chatting enjoying the wines and and waiting for the bike guy to come. As we were having such a good time we hadnt really thought of the bike guy and at 6pm (the time we were due to hand back the bikes) we started t panic a little. Juguito offered to drop us and the biked off and we all walked out the building to find out...hahahahaha th bike had been replaced. Unbelievable but true! Juiguito still drove us up with his pickup...he was such a nice andguy and an amazing host for the tasting. He decided to give us a lift back to Mendoza which we could n t believe...he was probably one of the most friendly and funny poeple we ve met so far and we were a little sad, that we didn t have more time in Mendoza to catch up with him. The last day wwe went for another stoll through Mendoza, up to a lovely terrasse with a stunning view over the town and on the Mountains, had a coffe in and a sleep in the sun and got on the bus to Cordoba...which is another story... ;)

Posted by PEANUTSONTHERUN 16:15 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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