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  • Day40

    Erste Eindrücke in Argentinen: Salta...

    December 10, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Salta ist eine schöne Kolonialstadt und mein erster Stop in Argentinien.In vieler Hinsicht wirkt sie sehr europäisch- nur nicht beim Essen und beim Geld...

  • Day334


    April 5, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    The landscapes in Northern Argentina are ridiculously beautiful and we were treated to very dramatic red-rock landscapes much of our drive up to Salta. This is a part of the country not to miss!
    Salta has a feel similar to Jujuy, but is larger. Many crumbling and some updated adobe buildings, churches and squares make it a very charming place to walk around. And the North keeps their cities much cleaner than other parts of the country with almost no litter or dog doo anywhere. How wonderful! We loved Buenos Aires, but could have easily spent a week or longer in this nice-sized, safe and charming city.Read more

  • Day40

    Back to the Land of the Incas

    June 6, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    It's not easy waking up at 1.00 am. But when your flight is scheduled at 4.50 am in the morning, that is what you have to do. When the alarm sounded it would have been so easy to just switch it off and ignore it. If I did that I knew that the consequences would have been even more dire than our missing the ferry yesterday.

    I rolled out of bed, jammed my luggage closed and made my way down to the foyer. The hotel was situated within the airport precinct, but outside it was dark, cold and deserted. It felt a little strange to have now separated from the rest of the group. From now on it would be just Paul and me.

    At 2.00 am our taxi arrived and we jammed our luggage and ourselves aboard for the short trip to the terminal building. The driver was interested in where we were from (in fact this is the most commonly asked question) and told us that he would like to bring his family to Australia. Since he had previously spent two years in the USA his English was very good. In fact he seemed like just the sort of person who would be an asset to our country.

    We gave him a modest tip for his service and he was genuinely thankful. It was a good way to start the day. When the time came to check in for our flight (it was the first of the day), we were happy to see that very few were lined up in the queue. To our great relief this meant that the flight was only very lightly booked and there were dozens of empty seats throughout the plane. If only all flights were like this.... I propped my head against the window and managed to sleep for almost the entire flight.

    A couple of hours later we were descending to land at Salta Airport. It was still pitch dark outside and the plane braked to an abrupt stop on the short runway. It did not take long for our luggage to join us and we exited the terminal to find a driver waiting for us. We knew it was for us because he had the name "HARRY DAWSON" proudly printed on a piece of cardboard. It was almost correct.

    Soon we were making our way along the quiet streets to our hotel. Although we were extremely early, the hotel managed to find an empty room for us to rest in. We also sneaked our way to the breakfast room to take advantage of the breakfast buffet. In the overall scheme of things, I am sure this is classed a "minor sin".

    Paul and I then decided to explore the city. Our initial impressions were very favourable. The streets were clean, the shops modern and the air was fresh. At 1200 metres elevation Salta is nowhere near as high as we were a couple of weeks earlier and we relished the cool, clean air of the early morning.

    We arrived at the central plaza just in time to hear the music playing. We were soon joined by a large marching band that proudly welcomed us to their city. I assumed that they had heard we were coming and had been patiently waiting to perform for us. Their gesture was surely appreciated.

    Later in the day we were treated to a half day bus tour of the city. We were the only English speaking people on board and the monotone drone of the guide/driver soon had me on another trip altogether - to the wonderful Land of Nod. It was most relaxing.

    Tomorrow morning we once again start early and take a 200 km bus journey to Cafayate. This is a famous region that is located at a significantly higher altitude than the 1200 metre high elevation of Salta. It promises to be a long and interesting day.
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  • Day41

    A Lovely Day in Mexico

    June 7, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 1 °C

    Up until now I had never been to Mexico. Along with the Congo, Kazahkstan, Iceland and about 160 other countries I had never had any reason or desire to travel to the land of cacti, sombreros and siestas. You can therefore imagine my surprise when that is exactly where I found myself. Well almost.

    The day began with yet another early start and a long 200 km bus trip to the mysterious sounding Cafayate region of Salta. When putting together this part of the trip, I cannot now recall why I decided to include the Cafayate, other that it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

    After making our way out of Salta, the bus joined the famous "Route 68", apparently one of the most "iconic" national highways of Argentina. Paul and I were both clutching our passports since we had been warned that, on any national highway, police roadblocks are common and everyone has to produce their identity papers. Neither of us had any wish to be sent to some sort of Argentinian salt mine, so we decided to behave ourselves.

    About two hours later we were leaving the flat plateau and entering into a strange, alien looking landscape of huge twisted and raised tectonic plates. Whole mountains appeared to have been lifted and dumped on their sides. Weird manifestations had been given wonderful names like The Titanic, Amphitheatre, Devil's Throat, Obelisk, etc. This was not what we expected to see. If fact I am not sure what we expected, but it wasn't this. In any case, it really was impressive.

    From time to time the bus stopped to allow us time to take photos of the landscape. Each time this happened three young American girls took the opportunity to do what all young Gen Y people now do - take selfies of themselves in front of each and every interesting place. When they got back on the bus they then spent the next 10 minutes admiring every photo. Sad but true.

    As well as the amazing mountains, there were also numerous cacti scattered across the barren landscape. Apparently it only rains here for about 2 months of the year. The rest of the time it really is as dry as dust. At this time of the year every day is clear and sunny, although the temperatures do plummet to around freezing very soon after sunset. It is actually the perfect time of the year to visit. The air at 1500 metres was clear and fresh and the viewing was excellent.

    We were also warned about the various dangerous creatures that live here in the desert. These include Black Widow spiders, huge tarantulas and rattle snakes. Apparently the huge spiders can sometimes be seen running across the road, maybe with a large rabbit in their mouths. On this day we didn't see any, although I would have loved to.

    After passing through the Cafayate Mountain region we finally reached the lovely little town of Cafayate. To our delight it looked even more Mexican than any town in Mexico possibly could have. With the brightly coloured shops, large central plaza (every town has a plaza) and the blazing blue sky overhead, it really seemed magical.

    Paul and I found a sunny cafe and sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee. A few of the local stray dogs were sleeping in the early afternoon sun, while the rest of the population looked like they had knocked off for the daily siesta. After the early start to our day, a sleep would have been very welcome. In any case, we were both really glad that we had discovered this treasure.

    We wandered back to the bus to face the long journey back to Salta. We followed the same route back, however the changing angle of the sun allowed some better photos to be taken. As the afternoon drew on, the gentle rocking of the slow moving bus rocked just about every one on board into a deep sleep. It had been a lovely day.

    In the evening Paul and I wandered to the centre of Salta in search of dinner. Hundreds of people were happily walking the streets. A few buskers filled the evening air with bright music and many of the old colonial buildings were beautifully lit with feature lighting. We both agreed that this seemed to be quite a lovely place to live. We also agreed that the cold was starting to creep up our legs so we returned to the hotel to thaw out.

    Tomorrow we have a free day to do some more exploration of this fascinating city.
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  • Day42

    We Enjoy a Salta Free Day

    June 8, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    After more than a month of quite relentless travelling, I always look forward to the occasional "rest day". It is a blessed relief to not have a tight schedule to adhere to, and it also gives an opportunity to make some inroads into that other pressing task of catching up with laundry.

    Once again I awoke to yet another perfectly clear morning. I really could get used to this climate. With its low humidity and perfectly clear and dry weather, it was absolutely perfect for exploring this delightful city on two feet.

    On our previous walks around the city I was impressed to see that all the stray dogs had been provided with lovely warm coats to wear. With the extremely cold nights that you get at this time of the year, I could appreciate that the dogs must have been grateful. I could also believe that any city that showed such compassion for its stray dogs had a lot going for it.

    After breakfast Paul and I headed back to the central plaza. It seems that any exploration of a colonial city must always start with the plaza as that is where all the action always seems to take place. We had heard that the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology had a fascinating exhibit of an Incan mummy and we both wanted to see it. Unfortunately so did about 200 local school children who were already lined up at the entrance. Judging by their behaviour it was evident that most of them must have been fed copious amounts of red cordial before the excursion. Or maybe they just didn't get out much.

    Whatever the reason for their exuberance, we decided that it might be a good idea to come back later in the day. Hopefully the kids might have left by then. We walked through the city to the base of the nearby San Bernando Hill. This small mountain dominates the landscape of Salta and has a modern cable car to take visitors to the summit.

    We went to the ticket office and were delighted to see that there was a special rate for "elderly" travellers. After carrying my senior's card all over South America, now it was finally time to make it pay. And it did. The elderly price was about half the price for "normal" people, so sometimes being ancient really does have its own perks.

    Thus equipped with our special elderly tickets we staggered to the nearest gondola and made our way to the summit. The views down over the city were superb and the neat rectangular layout of the streets was clearly evident. Unfortunately the glorious views at the top of the mountain were offset by the extremely loud music that was blasting from the cable car station. After a brief stay we climbed on board for the downward trip back to the town.

    On our way back to the plaza we found ourselves in a group of high school students. Judging by the nice clothes and makeup they were wearing and the impressive smart phones they were carrying, we got the impression that the town was relatively quite prosperous. We have not seen a single beggar or homeless person since we arrived here and the modern shops and dozens of classy eateries all seem to be doing a very healthy trade.

    Back at the museum the rowdy schoolchildren were nowhere in sight. I walked to the counter and proudly produced my elderly card to get another discount. It didn't work here. Only locals get the lower rate. At least I tried.

    The main exhibit in the museum is an incredibly well preserved mummy that was found on the top of a 6700 metre volcano. I guess it must have been a bit disappointing when the first modern climbing team reached the summit, only to discover that the Incans had been there over 500 years earlier. Not only had they climbed just about every major summit,but had done so without oxygen, modern gear, climbing boots, etc. They had also carried enormous amounts of artefacts to the snow covered peaks and dug excavations to bury their preserved offerings to Patchamama. It was an amazing feat.

    The mummies that have been discovered on the highest peaks are mostly of young children which had bee specially chosen because of their perfect beauty. They were amazingly preserved and the one in the museum at Salta really did look like she was just sleeping. Not only was the body almost unmarked, but the clothing and other items were as pristine as the day she was buried. It really was quite touching to see her beautiful face and the sensitive way her body had been arranged. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures in the museum, but maybe that was not such a bad thing. Perhaps the sleeping child mummy was entitled to some dignity.

    Apparently the Incans did not look on it as a human sacrifice. They believed that they were taking the special chosen one to the highest place where she would be close to heaven and would be able to see out over all the surrounding region. I could not help but wonder if the body should not have been left in peace where she had been placed all those years ago.

    After our time at the museum it was almost time for afternoon siesta. After all , when in Salta, do as the Saltanas do, or something like that. It was a habit that I could easily grow accustomed to.

    Much later in the afternoon Paul and I ventured out for a lovely coffee at a nearby coffee shop and then made our way back to the plaza. Where else would we go ? A gaucho band was getting ready to play. We had arrived just in time for some free lively entertainment. The sun was dipping behind the colonial buildings and the chill was already coming into the air. A lovely dog was enjoying being patted by those listening to the band. It obviously enjoyed the attention and its warm coat would ensure it did not suffer too much when the temperature dropped. Young lovers sat on the seats and cuddled. Everyone seemed genuinely happy. It had been another typical day in Salta.

    Tomorrow we head further north to the very top of Argentina. Another chapter of our adventure is about to unfold.
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  • Day44

    The First Stagecoach from Purmamarca

    June 10, 2018 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    It was not an encouraging sight. After the numerous attempts to restart the ancient generator, the hotel owner had obviously given up. The motley handful of hotel guests were left sitting in the foyer in darkness. The few sad remnants of the would be breakfast sat forlornly on the table. Outside the wind was kicking up the first of many dust devils. Hundreds of large cacti looked on malevolently from the surrounding hillsides. We certainly did not want to miss our first (and only chance) to leave this place.

    Our instructions said that we would be collected by some form of transport at 10 am. We did not exactly know what form the transport would take - minibus, horse, stagecoach, etc. We weren't really all that concerned. We were more than ready to leave.

    Right on time at 10 am, a mean looking hombre pushed in through the door, looked around the foyer and then said he was looking for "Dawson". I wondered for a minute if I had offended someone and this guy was looking for a shootout in the main square. Fortunately he broke into a half smile, introduced himself as Raoul, and told us to grab our bags. We didn't waste any time. Soon we were were squeezed into a Toyota Hilux 4WD, along with another couple. And you guessed it, they didn't speak a word of English. Not a single word. We were learning that no one speaks English in these badlands of northern Argentina.

    Overhead the sky was completely clear and the warm dusty wind foreshadowed a hot day. We bounced our way out of Purmamarca and soon the view from the rear window was completely obscured by a huge cloud of dust. It had been a surreal experience, but one they we will never forget.

    We were soon back on the highway. Not just any highway but the famous Pan American Highway. This incredible sequence of roads stretches for around 30,000 km, all the way from Ushuaia in southern Patagonia to Alaska. Apart from a small gap in central America you could drive, pedal or walk the entire length of two continents.

    Our initial route took us north along the famous highway, towards Bolivia. In this section the highway follows the path of the Rio Grande River Valley. Since we were going upstream, the elevation steadily increased. My ears popped several times. My drink bottle expanded. We were getting used to these manifestations of rapid changes in elevation, although I am not sure if my lungs will ever really adapt.

    The drive would have been relaxing if Raoul did not have the somewhat disconcerting habit of taking his hands from the wheel and turning around to talk to his rear seat passengers. I am not sure what the official speed limit was, but Raoul seemed to think that 140 kph was a reasonable speed in these conditions. The incredible scenery flashed past our windows. This region really is breathtaking, and not just because of the altitude.

    By midday we reached the comparatively civilised town of Humahuaca. This marked the northernmost part of our journey in Argentina. Somewhere in the morning we had crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, officially placing us in the tropics. No wonder it was so warm.

    Paul and I, along with our new (non English speaking) amigos found a likely looking restaurant for lunch. Soon we were enjoying a plate of delicious empanadas . These are like small pasties, filled with hot meat or cheese. They are a staple food item in this region, and they really are quite delicious.

    After wondering the plaza and examining some of the "maybe alpaca" handicrafts that were on sale, it was time to climb aboard the Toyota for the return trip down the valley. We had a long way to go before reaching our destination for the evening in Salta. Once again Raoul revved the engine and wound up the speed. The car wandered over the road. Numerous passing manoeuvres were executed right over the continuous double lines. Sometimes his hands were on the wheel and other times they weren't.

    One common sight along this highway were motorcycle riders without helmets. Sometimes whole families were on a single motorbike, with the smallest sitting astride the handlebars.

    "Are helmets compulsory in Argentina ?", I asked. "Of course", Raoul replied, "but this is Argentina". That explained everything.

    Another interesting sight we observed was several heavily laden cyclists making their way slowly north along the highway. I wondered if they had ridden from Ushuaia. I also wondered how far they would go north before common sense finally dawned on them.

    Very late in the afternoon we finally arrived back in Salta. According to my GPS we had travelled almost 400 km during the day. It was a wonderful feeling to be back in familiar territory. By now we had both developed a warm affection for this lovely city.

    After checking into our hotel we walked back to the plaza. The night was uncharacteristically warm. Young lovers sat in the park. The city dogs wandered about, proudly wearing their free jerseys. Music wafted through the streets. Unlike Purmamarca, we would both be sorry to leave this place.

    Early tomorrow morning we catch the first flight back to Buenos Aires. This adventure is drawing to a close.
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  • Day90

    84. Change of Plans - off to Argentina

    November 20, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    Due to all of the demonstrations and roadblocks in Bolivia, we were forced to cut out many of the Bolivian cities from our itinerary, and ended up in Chile about 10 days ahead of schedule.

    Chile is plagued with political unrest as well, so rather than fight it by heading down the Chilean coast, we scooted over to Argentina. I do have a flight home from the Chilean capital of Santiago on Dec 4, where the political demonstrations are focused, but we're hoping tensions subside before then, so I can get to the airport. If we can't drive through Chile safely, I may have to grab a flight from Argentina to Chile, just to get access to the Santiago airport. Geez. (Btw - when I mention this to my youngest sister, she just says "Well, that's what you signed up for, right?". And yup, she's right)

    In the meantime, we went north in Argentina to a town called Humahuaca, which is described as "a painter's palette of color on barren hillsides". Enjoy the astounding colors of the mountains in these pix - they are not touched up.
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  • Day86

    Adios Argentina - Mate, Carne & Fussball

    January 31, 2019 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Salta, 7 Uhr morgens und der Bus fährt los in Richtung Anden mit Destination San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Noch vor Abfahrt wird ein Frühstück serviert, bestehend aus einer Guezli Rolle und einem Becher mit Teebeutel oder Kaffeepulver - Zeit, um ein paar Gedanken über Argentinien zu verlieren:

    Mit einem weinenden Auge verlassen wir nun dieses fantastische Land! Insgesamt 40 Tage hat uns Argentinien in seinen Bann gezogen. Mit einer Länge von 3700km sind riesige Distanzen zu überwältigen. Pflanzte man das Land in Europa ein, würde es sich von Kopenhagen bis in den Süden von Ägypten strecken. Einzigartig ist auch die Grenze mit Chile welche sich über 5300km ausdehnt.
    Bei diesen Dimensionen ist es auch nicht verwunderlich, dass sich das Klima, die Menschen, die Natur und die Landschaften immer wieder von einer komplett anderen Seite zeigen. Das Land hat soviel zu bieten und doch steckt es seit Jahren in einer wirtschaftlichen Kriese. Die Einheimischen sind gut gebildet und können nicht nachvollziehen, wieso es dem Land nicht besser geht. Der eine oder andere klagt uns sein Leid über den Staat. Vor 3 Jahren hat man für 10 Pesos einen Dollar bekommen. Heute kostet er 40 Pesos. Die Preise sind überall angestiegen doch die Löhne steigen kaum. Eine Reise ins Ausland ist für die Einheimischen somit praktisch nicht finanzierbar. Und trotzdem scheint es ein zufriedenes Volk zu sein. Die Menschen machen das beste daraus und versuchen das Leben zu geniessen. Die Armut ist gering, Bildung und Medizin sind gratis. Sie sind stets freundlich, geduldig, herzlich und absolut nicht aufdringlich, was das Reisen sehr angenehm macht. Ob im Reisebüro, am Busterminal oder in der Autovermietung - man wird stets geduldig beraten und es ist absolut kein Problem, wenn man nicht gleich bucht, sondern sich das ganze nochmals überlegt.
    Im grossen und ganzen ist Argentinien ein sicheres Land um herumzureisen. In Städten ist natürlich Vorsicht geboten aber sobald man in kleineren Dörfer unterwegs ist, scheint Kriminalität kein Thema zu sein.
    Die Argentinier lieben Fussball! Dass Fussball hier zulande als Religion gilt, ist wohl kaum übertrieben. Maradonna ist der Fussballgott schlechthin! Messi hat mit Argentinien noch keine Titel geholt, deshalb hinkt er etwas hinterher.
    Für Fleischliebhaber ist Argentinien eine gute Adresse. Carne (Rindfleisch) gibt es überall. Mal ist es etwas zäh, öfters aber unglaublich zart - und für uns Schweizer zu einem regelrechten Spottpreis. Da könnt ihr euch ja denken, was es an unserem letzten Abend in Argentinien zu Essen gab:-)
    Wir können Argentinien wärmstens weiter empfehlen, ob nun wegen dem leckeren Essen, dem weltbekannten Wein, den anspruchsvollen Trekking Touren, den atemberaubenden Landschaften, der eisigen Winde in Ushuaia, des bezaubernen Nordens mit den vielen Farben oder der gutmütigen Einheimischen! Hasta luego Argentina!

    Mittlerweile ist es 12 Uhr, schönstes Wetter und geschätzte 30 Grad Aussentemperatur. Unser Morgenkaffee/tee Becher wartet immer noch auf heisses Wasser, aber das ist jetzt auch egal. Bald sollten wir Salta erreichen. Jep richtig gelesen, dort wo wir um 7 Uhr morgens gestartet sind. Um etwa 10 Uhr informiert uns der Fahrer, dass er schlechte Nachrichten hat: der Pass de Jama sei gesperrt, zu viel Schnee. Eine Ausweichroute gibt es nicht. Nachdem der ganze Bus einmal leer geschluckt hat, treten wir die Rückreise an und hoffen, dass es morgen klappt. Also so schnell habe ich mir das hasta luego (bis bald) Argentina dann doch nicht vorgestellt...
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  • Day417


    January 8 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Mir kam die Idee zu diesem Tattoo schon in Brasilien und ich dachte es wäre eine tolle Sache wenn Gonza mir es sticht. Das war der eigentliche Hauptgrund warum ich Salta wieder besucht habe.
    Er hat es ein bisschen seinem Style angepasst, was mir sehr gut gefällt. Leider hatte er keine Zeit mehr das Rot so zu schattieren damit es aussieht, als ob das Messer rein schneidet.
    Das wird aber im lauf der Zeit nachgeholt.

    Es repräsentiert meine Berufung die ich liebe, wie auch die Schattenseiten die damit hergingen. Das Koch sein, passt zu mir wie die Faust aufs Auge, ist wohl mehr als offensichtlich.
    Ich habe die letzten 15 Jahre diesen Beruf nicht nur ausgeübt, ich habe ihn gelebt, vielleicht hat er sogar mich gelebt.
    Ich habe einige der schönsten Zeiten in meinem Leben durch das alles bekommen und ebenso einige meiner tiefsten Täler durchschritten.
    Dieses Tattoo bedeutet mehr als ich sagen kann.
    Es hat nicht umsonst einen Platz so nah an diesem Tattoo bekommen das so viel über mich erzählt. Dieses Tattoo erzählt mein Leben und wer ich bin oder war, nun kam dieses Messer als ein neuer Lebensabschnitt hinzu.
    Wer weiß wie viele noch Folgen werden. 😂😂😂

    Die ersten 2 Bilder wo Gonza tattooviert, habe ich gemacht als er jemand anderes tattoviert hat. Dann ist da noch sein Laden und die restlichen bin ich. 😆

    Ich hoffe es gefällt euch. Wenn nicht, ist auch nicht schlimm. 😁😁 ich darf ja damit herum Laufen..
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Salta, سالتا, Горад Сальта, Салта, Σάλτα, Saltaurbo, Ciudad de Salta, סלטה, साल्टा, Սալտա, SLA, サルタ, სალტა, 살타, Salta llaqta, Сальта, 萨尔塔

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