Pour me another one, Argentina...but keep the cheese
I write this post from the comfort of our sun blessed campsite a few days after leaving Argentina. Said campsite can be found in the dry land that is San Pedro de Atacama. Yes, after all that talk about camping I am camping...again
I feel guilty as I try to drown myself in water (combatting altitude sickness or at least preventing it) and lounge around while the poor woman who works here is cleaning our campsite, in what has to be around 26 degrees. It's desert so its not your London 26 but baking. Our situation and trip has reverted back to one of travellers rather than the holidaymakers and wine drinkers persona we adopted towards the end of our time in Argentina. Ok, i admit it we were boozers stumbling from one bodega to the next.
I left you last as we arrived in San Rafael for what we hoped would be a relaxing time of sampling the wine in one of the famous Argentinian wine regions. What we found was a very different taste of wine to what we receive back home. They like it sweet and young here. The Malbec resembled a sweet almost viscous wine. Not for me. Paired with the spots I seemed to have acquired (for those who are unaware a spot a year on me is even unacceptable) and the rubber cheese and lack of vegetables (potatoes are veg are they not?), my poor beleaguered palate had had enough! What was going on? Where was the amazing gastronomy I had heard tell of the Argentinians. Was the thread that I had read true, was Argentina in fact' the land that taste forgot'?
Yes, and no. Yes if you include from Ushuaia all the way north to the borders of the region known as Salta. No, if you include Salta. Known as La linda (the pretty), but to me 'my saviour'. Though the meat everywhere is great. I support this with the fact that I had the best lamb on a bus! Yes, you heard me, a bus. And, this is why you should take the bus.
The vegetables on the other hand, boiled to an inch of their lives if they are even present or packed between discs of flattened processed cheese. The picture below was part of our meal on the bus, before the lamb.
Now back to Salta. The town of Salta is a pretty town in northern Argentina (not far from Bolivia), a large central square where locals trough down in ice-cream on a regular basis (they should be fat with the amount of ice-cream they eat), and tourists retreat to the bars and fend off shoe shine men and children selling pens and jewellery.
There is a street that brings to mind a holiday in Crete where all the tourists go to be entertained. Local live music with singers, food, and clubs to rival London and even Ibiza. Pass, we went to the Chelsea of Salta, a street called Guimes. You will find this at the base of Cerro B, a hill at the edge of town with vistas over the city. Over 1,000 steps and once you reach the top you can do spinning or even work out. Really? like the climb up isn't a killer. We, just had a beer.
We hired another car. They are very into their chevrolets here. The roads are mad here as when it rains in Salta it floods. The streets are basically rivers which we walked through. It's important to know early on that none of my stuff is waterproof. The locals walk around in bare feet rather then ruining their shoes. Why didn't I think of that? 'The Man' drove us through a river (i have the video somewhere and for those on what's app you may already have seen it) first, and then around the region, through canyons and past rocks that looked like toads, people or other things. Personally, I only got the toad. Beautiful, well worth the drive but we were there for wine.
Cafayate, where we adopted our new roles of wine tasters. After the 3rd bodega, all within walking distance of our hostal, I have to admit to being not so upright. The wine was amazing, I have discovered two new grapes and about 5 new vineyards. Tannat and Torrentes; one red and one white. If you get a chance go for Nanni and El Porvenir from Cafayate / Salta.
And now we're in San Pedro, lounging for a week, though with a few adventures planned.
The road to San Pedro was not all plain sailing as when crossing the border I nearly passed out a few times. All well and good, usually, but not when they're trying to stamp your passport and let you out of one and into another country. Altitude is not and never has been my friend. So, of course on Sunday we're off to Bolivia where cities top 4000m, and i've been cycling around like a madwoman.
Until the next time....Sparky and i say hi, and don't forget to follow us on twitter @dontworrymysoul where there are a lot of pics.