Salta la Linda.
Salta Travel Blog› entry 5 of 20 › view all entries
February 3rd, 2007 – by: gopackjo
After a bit of confusion I made my bus yesterday. I had bought my ticket in Arica two days previous, and apparently there was a mistake on the reservation. All was fixed, and I took my seat.... in the back of the bus... next to the bathroom... next to a 8 year old... with two of his younger siblings in the adjoining seats. It felt like it would be a long 13 hours.
Thankfully the proximity to the restroom wasn't much of an issue. The smell was negligible when the door was closed, and fewer people then expected used the facilities. And I wasn't tired, so I didn't have to worry about being awakened by the noise. The bus was of an even lower class then the previous two I had taken, but not horrible. And the 8 year old slept most of the time. Plus as we went higher and higher the temperature ended up being beautiful.
The landscape changed drastically as we went higher. First there was the sight of some grasses, which brought with them loads of Llamas, Alpaca and Vicuna. It was pretty cool seeing all of them out there wandering around freely. As soon as we crested the first mountain pass at about 11,000 feet, we started seeing lots of cacti. Big, huge, tall cacti!
After waiting about an hour at the Argentina border, we moved on and saw mist covered mountains in the distance. Big change from the world's driest desert. The Andes were, of course, spectacular. We negotiated switchback after switchback for a couple hundred kilometers, each one taking your breath away as you came in and out of low hanging clouds. I did feel a bit of the effects of the high altitude. Just a bit of shortness of breath.
Arriving at Salta a little early, I set out to find a hotel room. I wanted a decent single with a private bath, and without a reservation I had a list of about eight possibilities to try. No money changing at the bus terminal, so I hit the cash machine, and grabbed a taxi. I took the taxi to three different hotels, with no luck, before I sent him on his way to keep trying myself. I struck out at three more places, and a few of them were kind enough to check other places with no success. At this point I took a leap of faith to walk 10 blocks to the other side of the square, to try another area. Just my luck, first place I checked was great.
I took a stroll around town today, and there is alot to see. Salta is the 8th largest city in Argentina at about 220,000 people, so it still has a bit of small town charm. It is known in Argentina as 'Salta la Linda' or Salta the beautiful. It was founded in 1582, and is said to retain much more of an old Hispanic character then most Argentinian cities. The most impressive and historic buildings are the cathedrals and religious buildings, but a few other sights are certainly beautiful.
I had read all of the stories about Argentinian beef, so I really needed to find a big hunk of steak. The restaurant universally considered he best in town appeared to be closed, but I found one across the street called The Goblin. There I enjoyed a 'butter-knife tender' steak cooked to perfection, including bread, sides, dessert, and a coke for $16 pesos (about $5). Of course, I had to try a local brew.
Right now I am in the New Time Cafe on the Plaza 9 de Julio enjoying a tea, and their free wi-fi internet service. It also looks like the best bet to catch the super bowl at a bar tomorrow night. I will also certainly get another steak.
Today I booked my bus to the Bolivian border for Monday morning at 5:30am. So I've got two more nights in Salta. Tomorrow is a tour into the wine country of Cafayate about 180kms away, and to see some of the natural sights of the area south of Salta.
BTW, very good pics today!
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