Salta la Linda.

Salta Travel Blog

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Plaza 9 de Julio from the southeast.
Hello All,

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.
Iglesia San Francisco.

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.
Parque San Martin's boating lake. Check out the foilage!
But that means next week should be interesting when I hit the really high altitudes.

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.
The view from Cerro San Bernardo.
Single room, private bath, even A/C and a TV with 70 channels! And cheaper then alot of the other places I struck out at ($17/night). I think it has to do with the other trendier side of town where most of the hostals are being preferable to most backpackers. Now I can watch the Super Bowl in the room if I can't find a fun looking bar tomorrow.

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.
Salta's main cathedral on the Plaza 9 de Julio.
The Parque San Martín is a long narrow park on the southern edge of the downtown, with a very mellow vibe, a boating lake, and tons of natural vegetation. Cerro San Bernardo is a 800 foot hill to the east of town. It can be reached by auto, or via a swiss built tramway from Parque San Martín. The views are 360 degrees, and really give you an idea of the geography of the area.

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.
Still a bit touchy about that whole Falkland Islands thing. The sticker on this van says 'Never Forget'.
I picked a good one. Cerveza Sainka Negra is a darker beer made in an oldartisian style right here in Salta and was well worth the $6 pesos! The steak had me thinking about the way steak used to be in the US. Part of the reason why this piece of meat was so good was that every speck of fat had not been cut out. I seem to remember when you bought a steak at a US supermarket 20 years ago, they used to have about 1/2 inch of fat all the way around. I'm not sure anyplace there could get away with that now. Too bad, I love fat!

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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Plaza 9 de Julio from the southeas…
Plaza 9 de Julio from the southea…
Iglesia San Francisco.
Iglesia San Francisco.
Parque San Martins boating lake. …
Parque San Martin's boating lake.…
The view from Cerro San Bernardo.
The view from Cerro San Bernardo.
Saltas main cathedral on the Plaz…
Salta's main cathedral on the Pla…
Still a bit touchy about that whol…
Still a bit touchy about that who…
photo by: wvijvers