As a preamble to this post, I’ll have you all know that I wanted to write another joint post – since the last one was so well received. When I mentioned this to Jon, he said “No problem. I love wine, I love beef, and thusly I love Argentina. End post.” And I’m pretty sure ‘thusly’ isn’t a word. While this captures most of our 18 days in Argentina, I thought I might give you a somewhat more thorough summary of the time we spent in the country.
As Jon’s one sentence post clearly conveys, some of the highlights in Argentina were indeed the food and the wine. In fact the most notable experiences in our first 9 days in the country were related to food and drink. One of the first things I think about when I heard the word “Argentina” is steak. It is seriously amazing. We think it is because the cows are happy and they are grass fed. Happy cows make tasty meat.
After a long and arduous train and bus journey from Bolivia, we arrived in a town called Jujuy in north-west Argentina. We had wanted to get to Salta that day but since it was about 10pm when we arrived in Jujuy we decided to stay. We were worried that our late arrival time would preclude us from getting a good meal but we quickly learnt that Argentineans eat late. It’s no problem to show up at a restaurant at 10:30 at night; in fact, about a week after Jujuy we were eating a tasty meal in Buenos Aires and we finished our meal at 11:30… and people were still arriving. And it isn’t just young people who eat late, full families with grandparents and kids show up to restaurants at this time. Needless to stay that first night in Jujuy we ate delicious steak.
Next stop, Salta. We spent the first day in Salta running around trying to figure out how to take out more than $100 CAD at a time. Some friends we met on the salt flat tour in Bolivia had recommended we stay at Inti Huasi hostel for it’s delicious BBQ. For the “hefty” price of 30 pesos (about $10) you get virtually unlimited salads, meat and red wine. They put this on every Wednesday and Saturday night. The BBQ was really amazing, and we were starving by the time it started… of course, this wasn’t until 10:30.
So, after enjoying the food in Salta we were of to Cafayate, Torrontes capital of Argentina. Torrontes is a white wine produced in Argentina. It is amazing. If you don’t like sweet white wines, this is the wine for you. Cafayate is a small town and it is easy to walk from bodega to bodega doing (mostly free) wine tastings. We stopped for lunch at “Casa Empanada” and ordered their special. Twelve empanadas plus wine for 28 pesos (again around $10). We assumed it would be a glass of wine, or maybe, if lucky, a half litre, but instead she brought out a bottle! We teetered to one more tasting that afternoon and then back to the amazing Rusty-K hostel for a siesta. For dinner we bought two thick steaks (for $1.50) and had our own bbq!
After enjoying the Torrontes in Cafayate we were off to Mendoza. Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina. The highlight here was certainly Mr. Hugo’s bike and wine tour. For about $10 you rent a bike for the day and visit a circuit of bodegas. The region produces mostly Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon so this was our red wine day. When you arrive back at Mr. Hugo’s place he fills you up with red wine for a couple of hours until the last bus of the day comes and whisks you back to town. I highly recommend wine and bike tours. They are great!
So, while we did spend most of our time in central and north-west Argentina eating and drinking away the hours, we spent our remaining days getting to know Buenos Aires, we took a serious luxury bus, and we went to the most spectacular natural wonder I have ever seen (and we spent the rest of the hours eating and drinking because, of course, we were still in Argentina).
We arrived in Buenos Aires after an overnight bus from Mendoza. Buenos Aires is a great city. It is full of neat neighbourhoods, tango, and good food. Both Jon and I think we could live in Buenos Aires. We spent 5 nights there and got a chance to visit trendy Palermo, ritzy Recolta (home of Evita’s grave and funky modern art museums), San Telmo, Centro, and Boca (my personal highlight, where we sat in a cafe and watched a breathtaking tango show for hours). It is hard to summarize 5 great days in a paragraph but I think you may just need to visit for yourself!
Our last overnight bus ride in Argentina was the one where we spoiled ourselves. We took luxury class. Luxury class means you get lay-flat seats, your own pod, hot meals, wine with dinner and a champagne or whiskey nightcap. When we arrived in Puerto Iguazu 17 hours later I wasn’t ready to get off the bus, a new experience for me.
Iguazu Falls, our last stop in Argentina, was amazing. They are simply breathtaking, for me they easily beat Victoria Falls and I haven’t yet seen Niagara Falls so I’ll have to wait to pass judgement on that one. We spent a day at the falls walking along all the trails, getting several different views, including one very misty view point right above devil’s throat, going swimming in the river and taking a jet boat right underneath the falls! They are simply spectacular. The next day we crossed over into Brazil and saw the big picture from the Brazil side. It was simply amazing to realize just how massive the falls are.
As I’m sure you have gathered, our time in Argentina was wonderful and I can’t wait to go back and spend more time in BA, and go to Patagonia.