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Travel Adventure - Backpacking Latin America's Gringo Trail Backpacking Latin America starting in Cuba, then travelling from East to the west coast of Mexico before making our through Central and finishing in South America.

Amazing wine and cheese/meat bar in Salta.. Oh and a rainbow rock

ARGENTINA | Friday, 11 September 2015 | Views [480]

We caught a 10 hour day bus from San Pedro, Chile to Salta in Argentina. Border crossings are just a bit of a hassle more than anything these days but with the Argentinian visa we had to purchase online it actually made the border crossing fairly smooth, only having to get out once to stamp passports etc. We lacked Chilean pesos (and didn't need to withdraw any more and be charged an ATM fee) so couldn't buy breakfast before we left but we were getting fed two snacks on the bus. By the time they served it, it was after the border crossing and around 1pm so I was starving! I was excited for the packet of chips, poppa, muesli bar and chocolate they gave to us in a little lunch pack. We didn't know much about Salta but was a main destination in Argentina and easy for us to check out coming from San Pedro and break up the journey to Buenos Aires. We realised when we got there there was a lot to do around the outside of Salta such as ruins, mountains, a rainbow rock, white water rafting, horse riding and wine tours. When we entered Argentina and neared Salta, it became quite mountainous winding down the road (as you can tell by all my journal entries, there are lots of mountains in South America!) There is apparently a well known rock formation you can visit called Rainbow Rock or Rainbow Mountain or something but apparently you past it on the bus. We drove through some beautifully coloured mountainsides. The rocks were like looking at an opal and had colours of pink, blues, purples, yellows, greens etc running through it. It was quite pretty! I'm not sure what caused it. 

We arrived in the late afternoon to Salta. It was also a larger city than I expected (I thought it would be a small town), although not as big as La Paz. The streets seemed more European and the people more western here. The streets seemed a bit dull and bit shitty here, not sure if that was the fact that there were lots of trees in the park with no leaves on them considering it was Winter, maybe it would look more pretty in the Summer. There were a couple of purple jacaranda trees around which was nice. We had to walk 9 blocks to our hostel, which was quite basic. We asked the hostel worker where a place to eat was. What kind of food? Something cheap and easy. Which shouldn't be a surprising answer, coming from a backpacker. He kind of looked at me funny and said Cheap? In Argentina? He proceeded to circle a BBQ place, a vegan and empanada place on the map. 
We had been told about exchanging money on the black market. Apparently at one stage Argentina tried to increase their currency or something so they printed off a heap or their money but it didn't really work so now there is too much of their money which isn't really worth much. We withdrew $600US in La Paz and Matt exchanged it with one of they guys standing on the street on the black market. I didn't really understand how it worked but when we paid for dinner, because we had exchanged our currency on the black market with US instead of just withdrawing Argentinian pesos from the ATM, we got a way better exchange rate and dinner, instead of costing us equivalent to $60AUS it only cost about $30AUS! I don't know how it all works but we were saving about half our money! Dinner was really good too! We tried to find the vegan place for something a bit more relaxed but it was closed so went round the corner to the recommended BBQ place. It looked a bit fancy with wine glasses (hadn't seen them waiting on the dining table for a while!) and professional waiters, white table cloths etc. but the menu wasn't too expensive (and after working out at the end how much we paid it was really cheap!) We ordered some wine. We both tried Malbec which is apparently Argentina's best wine from the wine region of Mendoza. I had white and Matt had red. I didn't love mine, it tasted a bit Chardonnay tasting, which I don't really like. Matt ordered his first steak p, which he was waiting until Argentina to try so he hadn't had any steak for the last three months. It was quite thick but it didn't have any sauce (I think that's how they eat it, with nothing on it) and Matt just ordered a side of mash potatoes with it. He said it was good but I think I would have preferred a sauce or it marinated in something. I just had a creme pasta, which was cooked well and nice but all it was was pasta and sauce so it got a bit boring and full after a while I couldn't finish it. It began to get pretty busy as we were towards the end of our meal. I think they eat quite late here. A good first dinner in Argentina though. 
I was looking forward to a good nights sleep and finally a sleep in. We weren't really planning on doing much here and we're gonna book a bus the day after next to Buenos Aires. We were in a 6 bed dorm and half way through the night someone came in to our room loudly moving about, slamming the door behind them. They got in to bed, the one below my bunk and were mumbling and fidgeting around. The bunks weren't very good so the whole frame was shaking with this person fidgeting or scratching or something in their bed and moving my bed on top. I thought there might of been two people in the bed having sex or something there was so much notice and movement. But then I instantly heard loud snoring and talking in their sleep. They got up again went out the door came back in mumbling, fidgeting in their best and snoring so loudly. It was soooo annoying and frustrating to get to sleep. Eventually I did but woke again in the morning to the same person moving loudly about the room and slamming the door behind them. What the fuck was he doing? Matt and the other guy in our room both heard it too. Let's hope he was gone the next night. I was annoyed I didn't get my good night sleep I was hoping for. We had the free breakfast at the hostel which was pretty basic - bread with jam or dulce de leche (which I'm now obsessed with, I'm gonna buy a jar to bring  home with me!) and tea or coffee. We then walked to the bus terminal to book our overnight bus which left tomorrow at 4:30pm so we had two days to kill. We had a quick walk through some pretty crappy markets then went to get some empanadas for lunch at a local place. They were actually really good and the cheese one had potato, seasoning and onion in it. I had another thing which was like mashed up corn in a corn leaf. Matt were good too, he tried a few different ones. We had about 10 empanadas, plus my corn thing and a drink each and it all cost about $10AUS! And who said Argentina was expensive!? It probably would be if we didn't change our money on the black market...
Afterwards we went to a museum which was recommended in TripAdvisor. It was actually quite interesting. I learnt that the Incan empire actually originated in Salta. There were facts about the mountains surrounding Salta, the Incan's, how they used to live and their beliefs, spiritual offerings and ceremonies etc. The museum showcases artefacts found in these mountains from the Incan's. There were things like pots, combs, sandals, clothing etc. they even had images of three children mummies that were found in the mountains and blurbs about how they were adorned and offered to the PachaMama in ceremonies. There was even a really well preserved mummy of one of the children. It was a little bit creepy/sad and a little weird but this mummy was so well preserved it looked like there was a young 6 year old Incan boy sitting in front of us, frozen in time and still dressed in all the clothes he was dressed in for the offering. We walked around for a little bit and saw a really cool looking antique bottle shop which looked like an old school bar down the back and you could buy wines and cheeses and condiments etc. we had to come back here later on for pre dinner! We walked back to the hostel and just chilled out on our beds and relaxed for the rest of the arvo, Matt fell asleep for a bit.
We then showered and got ready for dinner. We got a little lost trying to relocate the place we saw today but soon found it. It was called Moderna Casa. We weren't sure what the deal was as there was no one sitting at the bar now. The guy behind the register spoke English and said to sit down and they offered tapas style cheese plates with wine or beer. It was so cool! It was a massive warehouse looking place with a huge collection of beer, wine and spirits on the walls. There was a ladder you had to climb to reach the antique ones! There were cabinets at the front selling deli style meats and cheeses and condiments. We got the one person tasting plate with two cheeses and 3 meats with breads. I wouldn't eat the meats so just had the cheese which were so tasty. One kind of like a Swiss cheese and the other like a Gouda. Matt had a Salta beer and I had a white wine. This one was a lot fruitier than the one I had last night and I liked it a lot more. Wine and cheese is my vice back home and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting there indulging in this fabulous wine and cheese! We got up to pay and the guy asked if we liked Salta, I said this has been our highlight. Matt asked how long this place has been here? The guy was actually the son of the owners and it had been around for over 100 years! It began in 1904 and was originally in the corner of the main square and a few years ago it moved along this street. It must have been a family run business and this family was now pretty well off! He asked us where we were from and when we said Australia he said he loved Australia and used to live in Melbourne for 3 years. He loved Sydney but said it was a pretty busy place and Melbourne is a lot easier to live, especially when moving from an overseas country. He also asked where we were heading next and wrote down all these recommendations of places to eat and things to do in Buenos Aires. His sister lives there so visits quite regularly. Wow! He was so nice and it was such a cool place, it definitely heightened my experience of Salta! We then went to the vegan place we were going to go to last night. We were now not feeling that hungry so just shared a lasagne which was more like a veggie stack and absolutely delicious! Unfortunately I didn't get a good nights sleep again as the guy (who was actually a girl) did the exact same thing as last night, I don't know what her deal was. Her alarm just kept ringing in the morning aswell and she didn't turn it off or get up. Just kept putting it on snooze. Whenever we saw her around the hostel she was on the computer playing games or on Facebook, singing loudly and just being weird in general. I don't k ow what she would do with her day.
Anyway, the next day our bus left at 4:30 so we kind of had the day to kill. We had our free breakfast, then about 10:30 we just went for a walk around the streets for an hour, we played in the park equipment, we got a McClurry which had dulce de leche sauce and chopped up chokis! A bit of window shopping. We went back to the empanada place and had lunch and then on our way back to the hostel we saw an arcade which has racing cars, air hockey, shooting games, shooting the basketball in the hoop games, hit the crocodile on the head game.. All like tilt! So we played a few games there and then chatted to the French guy who was in our room and heading to Iguazu next and also ran in the the English guy in our hostel who we bike rides with to Devils Throat. So that took up our day before we went to the bus terminal to get on our overnight bus. This bus was even better than our last one from La Paz! It was a double decker and full cama which meant the seats reclined all the way back so you could lay down with this little foot thing that came out. The seats were quite spacious and only three in each row. There was a waiter guy who gave us a blanket and pillow and lollies on arrival. We were served snacks and even a hot meal and wine for dinner! It was like being in what I can only imagine first class would be like on a plane! It was pretty good and meant  for a pretty good nights sleep considering we were on a bus travelling all night. I actually think I got a better nights sleep being on a bus than being in that hostel room with that girl! 
 

Tags: argentina, beer, cheese, meat, rainbow rock. mountains, salta, wine

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