1st thing I knew was a microphone announcement saying we were about to arrive in Cordoba - couldnt believe how well Id slept on the 10 hour bus journey from Salta. Full Cama bus journeys are the way forward. Checked into our 1st choice hostal (Aldea) with another nice setup with a really bubbly receptionist who gave us a tour of the brand new hostal with kitchen (and free tea), pool table and roof top terrace with BBQ facilities. Our receptionist plotted a route for us to walk around Cordoba and we set off to see Cordoba which is very pretty - a slight step down from my favourite Barcelona with grand architecture next to downtown apartment blocks. Climate better still and scorching walking around the vast city.
Popped into a free art gallery for 30 minutes - a still dont really get art although I do have a litttle awe of history to see portraits of people who died 300 years ago. Nice cathedral and fountains before walking towards University where there is an immense landscaped park. Went on tour of the famous (in South America at least) Manzana Jesuitica, classed as the best example of a Jesuit church in South America., containing the oldest University in Argentina (3rd in Americas) and an impressive library with hundreds of books dating back to the 16th century. The guide was very proud and passionate about her subject but not quick enough in telling us photos were not allowed (after Id already taken 3). For a religious site, I was quite impressed with the place.
Chris and I picked up the hire car for tomorrow before Joel, Paul and I went out shopping for some Lomo for our BBQ.
Unfortunately all the best steak was sold out so resorted to the butchers suggestions with some sausages. Joel and Paul took a lead on the BBQ but just as the food was about to go on, the sun disappeared and the heavens opened. Chucked it down and our rooftop feast was in tatters. Finished off the cooking and took the food down to the dining area much to the other guests amusement. To make matters worse, the steak replacement was awful - so chewy you couldnt tell if the taste of blood was the meat or your gums. Regardless of the food, we settled down to a game of poker by splitting up a box of matches between the 4 of us and accompanied by 4 litres of red wine. I wasnt doing so well until Paul and Chris both started flagging and wanting bed and I easily took all their matches.
Joel and I had a stand off for another couple of hours before I lost. However he offered to disclaim his winnings if I stayed up for another beer. Obviously (especially as he was buying) I obliged and finally made it to bed at 3.30.
Up at 6.30 for our drive into the countryside. Chris happy to drive. We headed towards the pictureque mountain town of Alta Gracia for breakfast. Nice Jesuit Monastory but decided against doing another tour. Left Alta Gracia before we realised that Che Guevara had lived there and missed his house. Continued onto our main focus of the day - Laguna Molinos but weather miserable and our pre planned ideas of a bit of windsurfing or kite surfing got shelved.
Continued on only stopping briefly for a look at a dam at one end of the lake. Continued to a couple of German mountain villages (apparently a German submarine was hit in the war off the Chilean coast and the survivors came to Argentina to form their own village). Very weird as the locality has been turned into an alpine village complete with alpine trees and houses. German is openly spoken and lederhosens can be bought. Stopped long enough for coffee and avoided buying Belgian chocolate which made up the majority of shops. Walked to the top of the local watch towers for views over the town before moving off to the 2nd village. Rain getting heavier and as we climbed up into the mountains, we went offroad. Chris doing a grand job of sliding up the mud before hitting the pretty inlet of La Cumbrecita
Jumped out of the car and darted into a pizzeria for lunch. Unfortunately the rain just got heavier and for fear of getting flooded out, gave up on the sightseeing and headed back to Cordoba. Unfortunately, the road out of La Cumbrecita was already a river. Fortunately the local JCB was on hand to start moving earth and smooth out the road. Joel , Paul and I all had to jump out of the car to enable Chris enough power to torque his way up the hill through the sodden mud. The worst over, Joel and I kept Chris amused by playing "Never mind the Buzzcocks" intro game using Chris Ipod. Not the day we had planned, but an adventure anyway ! Called in at garage on the way back to wash down car before calling in a vantage point for views over Cordoba. I drove the last 10 minutes to the hire company both to say Ive driven in Argentina and to justify the 7 pesos it cost for a 2nd driver.
Quick turn around in the hostal and we were off for our next city - Mendoza.