Salta, a city founded in 1582 with a unique blend of Spanish and Indigenous culture and home to one of the highest trains in the world.
Arriving into Salta just after mid-morning we stumbled to our hostel and for the first time on our trip, Dee was able to understand the Spanish-speaking receptionist. Hooray for Spanish practice on our trip :)
Unfortunately whilst in Salta James had come down with a cold and spent much of the time trying to recover. When he did venture out of his darkened cave we came across a few unusual sights, including what appears to be becoming the norm of at least twenty or so dogs roaming the streets, as well as the Barny Gomez Resto-Bar. Taking inspiration from the Simpson’s, the bar stood out like a sore thumb against the more traditional Spanish Colonial style buildings.
We spent much of our time around the popular Nueve de Julio Plaza, lined with some very impressive colonial buildings, dating back to the 18th-20th centuries. The Cabildo, previously the town hall, the Musuem of Contemporary Art, The Cathedral and the Museum of High Mountain Archaeology which houses three mummified Inca children are just a few of the sights around the square. Between these buildings the square is lined with cafes and bars, filled with every cake and type of sandwich you could possibly think of. In the middle of the square stands the statue of General Jose de Arenales - a governor of Salta. The plaza provided excellent people watching opportunities, the more Spanish - gaucho style lifestyle was completely different to the European like cities we’d encountered so far.
Given the large Gaucho influence, the traditional food in Salta was different to what we’d seen before as well. Of course there was barbecue, which we avoided this time around, opting for a taste of traditional soups, and some of the Italian influenced food instead. Slow-cooked goat and tripe stews were on the menu and definitely made the trip to the more expensive Dona Salta restaurant worthwhile. This apparently is home-style Argentinian cooking at it’s best, served with lashings of bread, salsa and of course wine. On another of the days, Dee came across a place who’d only just opened and ordered the Menu Del Dia for $7aud and could barely finish it, homemade vegetable soup, Italian meatballs and of course more bread. Bread seems to be the staple beginning of each meal; here, you don’t just get one piece either, it’s usually a full basket with oils, flavoured mayonnaise or spicy tomato salsa.
The further north we’ve moved the more bread there is, and the notable presence of family in the management of the restaurants has provided a homely feeling when you arrive. We were also pleasantly surprised with our hostel in Salta and their quality of coffee, waking up in the cold is not always pleasant but being greeted with a hot cappuccino in the mornings had definitely made it much easier! James was very excited by the prospect of something resembling a real coffee. The food in Salta definitely did not disappoint, the abundance of wine also made our visit rather enjoyable.
Salta is home to a teleferico (a cable car); this is something else that appears to be a common occurrence in South America. Every city that has a hill seems to have a teleferico. This particular one took us up to the San Bernado Hill, where we able to see Salta’s version of Christo Redemptor, no clouds hiding Jesus today! The view from the top was quite amazing; Salta is much bigger than either of us had thought. We walked around the gardens that held a waterfall and a random silver shop having a rather large sale (not something we expected to see at the top of a hill!) The cable car starts in Plaza Del Lago, a large park with a lake, gumtrees paddleboats and the standard knick-knack markets and food stalls around it. During our visit we had attempted to catch the “Train to the Clouds” which would take us for a journey on one of the worlds highest train tracks. Our luck with trains wasn’t helping, the train was booked until the start of October – it wasn’t meant to be.
Our stay in Salta definitely wasn’t long enough to see everything this beautiful city had to offer. We did manage to grab our picture in front of the parliament, fighting past a bunch of school children, and tried amazing food and wine… This is definitely somewhere we’d love to come back to Struggling with the bank situation again (because they close at 1:30pm everyday) we got everything packed and made our way back to the bus station for the 6:00am bus… next stop: San Pedro De Atacama.
Go see all the photos from Salta