Argentina

What a lovely country Argentina was. I threw my budget out the door as soon as I stepped foot in it; with all those delicious steaks, empanadas, and wine in front of me it was impossible to stay on my meager backpacker budget.

I spent a few days in Salta where I had the best empanadas in Café Madera. This place had good food overall, and the perfect location: right on the square.

Salta

Salta

street vendor in Salta

street vendor in Salta

salta drum

newstand salta

best empanadas I've ever had

best empanadas I’ve ever had

dinner night

I was a gaucho for a day in Salta: this was my horse Princess. I liked her, except she kept stopping to eat the grass and leaves around her. But when she started galloping, boy did she galloped!

me and princess

After Salta was the city of Mendoza, the wine vineyard capital 🙂 Of course one cannot leave Mendoza without doing a bike and wine tour.  A bunch of us rented bikes and we biked our way from vineyard to vineyard. Halfway through I had a fleeting feeling of guilt for drinking and driving.

wine bottles

I spent a nice Sunday leaving the city of Mendoza for Aconcagua where there was an awesome view of the snow-capped Andes mountains, perfect sunny weather, and a nice hike through snow to the Cerro Aconcagua viewpoint.

cerro aconcagua

Cerro Aconcagua viewpoint

Cerro Aconcagua viewpoint

stones

From Mendoza I crossed the border to Santiago, Chile, spent about a week around the area, then planned on crossing the border again for Buenos Aires. However a storm came in and the border was closed so I was forced to fly to Buenos Aires (which I didn’t want to do because a. flight ticket was a heck more expensive than the bus ticket and b. US passport holders had to pay an extra $160 reciprocity fee.) Sucks but I had no choice. And so I arrived in Buenos Aires by air. The day I arrived the rain had just stopped, and I learned that it had been raining non-stop for almost a month here. I spent a day walking around, without a camera, not knowing that it was the only day I would have in this wonderful city. But here are fragments of my memory there:

There was a harp player in a corner who told me how he got burnt while living in Uruguay.

While browsing inside a bookstore I heard music so beautiful, at first I thought it was coming from a CD player in the store. And then I heard people clapping outside, and I saw 2 very young girls with big voices singing classical music in front of the bookstore. I thought they sounded like heaven.

I strolled along Florida street with a guy who was madly in love with an Argentinian woman he lost from a past mistake. Afterwards we stopped in Cafe florida where over a cup of espresso, I listened to him outline his plan on how to win her back. This guy was in cloud nine; a very happy place where roses are red and the sun always shines. It was almost annoying being around so much happy bubbles 🙂

I visited Evita’s grave in the Recoleta cemetery and found it littered with flowers, postcards, letters and other trinkets from strangers. Afterwards I just sat in the plaza and watched the people out and about enjoying the brief respite of sunshine from a month’s nonstop rain.

I love the tea culture in Argentina. And Buenos Aires is where they perfected it. Everywhere I see people carrying a mate cup in one hand and a thermos in another. They drink it in buses, cars, parks, and while walking on the street. There are even vending machines here for hot water!

My trip through Argentina ended in one of the 7 wonders of the world: Iguazú Falls, a place of such beauty it merits a separate post….

iguazu falls sign