The one thing you should do in Salta, Argentina

They call Salta la linda because it is so picturesque and lovely. When I arrived it was raining a bit. So I can’t say I had the best first impression. I also used couch surfing for the first time. It ended up being in a hostel called Loki Salta, or a famous party hostel in South America.

Almost missed the Loki stop. I literally laughed when I got off the bus, in the middle of nowhere!

Almost missed the Loki stop. I literally laughed when I got off the bus, in the middle of nowhere!

That was the mistake of Salta. I should have stayed closer to the city and at a hostel that didn’t try to nickel and dime you for everything (food, drink, etc.). I mean it was free so how much can I complain?

If you know me, quite a bit so I’ll just focus on the city. I am not a good tourist. I get really tired of the touristy things. I enjoy eating and walking in a city more than anything else. Salta is a great place to walk and explore. The food was a bit harder and I ended up eating quite a bit just at the hostel. Convenience won in this case.

The only thing I really did, partially due to less than great weather, is hike up the hill that had a great view of the city. It was about an hour walk up and another hour walk down. You can take the funicular but that takes most of the fun out of it. This is the one thing I recommend doing above all in Salta. 

The wonderful view from the top of the hill in Salta. If you are going to do anything, it should be this.

The wonderful view from the top of the hill in Salta. If you are going to do anything, it should be this.

I think pictures can say more about Salta than I can. I heard the areas around Salta are nicer but I didn’t get to do an excursion. Maybe I did not give it enough chance, but I think I prefer Cordoba.

Me all sweaty after the climb to the top. So worth it!

Me all sweaty after the climb to the top. So worth it!

Salta, La Linda

Salta, La Linda

Sierras de Cordoba – Alta Gracia y Villa Carlos Paz

Cordoba is surrounded by mountains called the Sierras de Cordoba which makes Cordoba a great base for those who like nature. I did not venture too far from Cordoba but I did have a chance to visit two nearby cities. It is quite cheap to venture out, around 20 pesos each way, or just under $2 dollars which makes it an affordable day trip.

Alta Gracia is known for being the childhood home of Che Guevara. Che is known as  a revolutionary. He was born in Rosario, Argentina. (Can you guess what other famous figure calls this town home?) He then moved to Alta Gracia with his family where he grew up which helped with his asthma due to the cities many green spaces and clean air.

A statue of 'Che' as a child sits outside the museum that used to be his former home in Alta Gracia.

A statue of ‘Che’ as a child sits outside the museum that used to be his former home in Alta Gracia.

‘Che’ as he was called (also a slang term of endearment in argentina, kind of like saying guy) went on to tour Latin America where he connected with locals and the indigenous. He studied medicine so he spent much time in leppar colonies. Later in life, he met Fidel Castro and fought beside him to overthrow the leadership in Cuba. He was honored with a Cuban passport and a position in the government. Later he fled to Bolivia where he also focused on gathering troops as part of the guerrilla war. Later, he was found and killed by the local Bolivian government, supposedly under orders from the U.S..

Che's Motorcycle from his famous memoirs, the Motorcycle diaries.

Che’s Motorcycle from his famous memoirs, the Motorcycle diaries.

Given that I am from the U.S., and Che’s given disdain of all things American and our influence around the world, I am torn on the topic. It is clear that Argentineans love Che and I believe many of his ideas are good, if not idealistic. However, I still love and appreciate my country and the opportunities it has offered me. It would have been very interesting to see what Che thought of Cuba in the present day, Argentina during the dictatorship, and various other occurrences after his death.

I’ve gone completely off topic now. The museum of Che’s childhood home is a must though. Although, they do charge differently based on where you are from. Basically, don’t say you are from the U.S. I think any other country would be better, and if you speak Spanish, say you are from Argentina.

IMG_2031

It is a nice city to just walk around as well. There is a small river and a few other museums if you care to check out.

Villa Carlos Paz was the other town I visited. This town has a larger lake, a casino, and a kukuclock which is much smaller than I expected. Carlos Paz is a nice place to escape the crowds in the city and just chill out. There isn’t a ton to it so if you skip it, you aren’t missing out.

There are some other towns around Cordoba such as Villa Belgrano and La Cumbrecita that are supposed to be lovely but I ran out of time to check out. I recommend exploring a bit outside the city of Cordoba in order to get a real taste of the area and the beauty that surrounds it.

Merienda

I learned a new word in Argentina (okay a few, but this one stood out). Merienda. It is now one of my favorite words. For a simple comparison, it is like tea time. It consists of usually sitting around, drinking Mate, snacking on facturas, and sharing with friends.

A few definitions:

Mate – A traditional drink of Argentina that consists of drinking out of a metal or wood like gourd filled with Yerba. Hot water is then poured over the leaves and drank through a  bombilla, or a special straw that filters the herbs. This is repeated until the flavor is removed from the leaves and all are thoroughly wet. Each person drinks until the water is finished.

Mate. Yum.

Mate. Yum.

Facturas– Small sweet croissants or criollias (small bread like biscuits). Sold at local bakeries for very cheap, 12 pesos (around $1 USD) for ½ dozen or 2 pesos each.

So, if you find yourself in Argentina, talk to some Argentineans. They will more likely than not invite you to share in Mate or Merienda. It is a great opportunity to just enjoy some company, take some time to relax, and of course, practice a bit of Spanish

Cordoba, Argentina

After a ~10 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, I arrived in Cordoba, Argentina. My home for the next few weeks. Cordoba is the second largest city in Argentina. It is in the middle of the country, surrounded by the Sierras de Cordoba. It is a city of around 1.3 million people, so a decent size.

I did not know much about Cordoba before I arrived. I actually still don’t know that much even though I’ve been here a few weeks. It has one of the oldest Universities in South America and as such, a lot of students and neat little bars and shops to explore. Did I mention that higher education is free in Argentina? Like totally free, even for foreigners (along with healthcare). To me, coming from the U.S. this is kind of crazy. It is also kind of awesome because those who really want to learn, have the opportunity. I have

Me in front one of the statues in the main squares in Cordoba.

Me in front one of the statues in the main squares in Cordoba.

noticed that a lot more people take longer to graduate here though, which I suspect is partially due to it being free.

Criss crossing the world gets expensive. So in order to reduce those expenses, I joined workaway and found a hostel in Cordoba where I could work for around 24 hours a week in exchange for free boarding. Not a bad deal, huh? Plus, since I first visited a hostel in Europe where I saw cool, hip foreigners working the desk, it had been one of those dreams that I wanted to check the box on. (Bartending is also on that list so we will see if I get to that).

It is also a great way to meet people and not feel so lonely when you are traveling by yourself. This has come in handy, especially when I want to go out. I’ve gone to the same club twice now. They do play a lot of reggaeton here, which I cannot say is my favorite.

Cordoba has quite a bit to offer and I do recommend a stop if you are traveling through Argentina. I specifically recommend you come on a Wednesday. All the museums are free on Wednesday and it is a great way to get to know a bit more about the city, Argentinean culture, and its art.

One of the hidden market ways around Las Paseo de los Artes on the weekends. You are bound to find something you will want to buy!

One of the hidden market ways around Las Paseo de los Artes on the weekends. You are bound to find something you will want to buy!

I would also recommend trying to stay until Saturday night at least as well. Not only would you get to experience the nightlife but you can also check out Paseo de los Artes. Paseo de los Artes is a little street fair that only goes on during the weekend from 6pm to 10pm. The stalls are filled with handmade goods ranging from wood to leather to jewelery. The area itself is also fun to walk around and lots of open air bars.

Cordoba is a city that grows on you the more you get to know it. There aren’t any world famous sites, but it does have a culture that is all its own. Its proximity to the Sierras de Cordoba make it a great base and its youthful atmosphere will have you missing your own school days in no time. While there are many cities in Argentina that get more attention, Cordoba is worth a visit.