Argentina - The Potato Chick

Salta & Quebrada de Humuhuaca, Argentina

In a sentence...mind blowing.

Food we loved...tamale – corn dough filled with meat and vegetables and steamed in a banana leaf wrapper. Very tasty.

When we planned a stop in Salta little did we know that what would come next would blow us away. South America’s natural beauty continues to amaze us.

Salta is a lovely colonial town with a few gorgeous churches which have been restored in bright colours to make them quite eye catching. After an overnight bus from Mendoza, we spent a day there wandering the cute town and climbing up to the highest viewpoint. Whilst we were there we also ate the best steak we have had in Argentina.

Thanks to another tip from our Argentinean friend Miguel we then headed into the incredibly unique Quebreda de Humuhuaca region, about 5 hours North of Salta. The area is barren and desert like,  and overlooked by mountains which have been eroded into zig zag formations in an amazing array of colours.

We visited the tiny indigenous towns of Humuhuaca, Tilcara and Purmamarca. We got a taxi up a winding road to see Humuhuaca’s “Hill of fourteen colours” and walked all the way around Purmamarca’s “Hill of seven colours”. Both were just incredible. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing – the colours were so intense that they looked fake. In between we spent the night in cute little Tilcara which was also surrounded by natural beauty and had a distinct “middle of nowhere” feel.

Visiting this spectacular part of the world was the perfect way to finish our time in Argentina.

Next stop...Atacama Desert & Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.


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Posted 1 April 2015

Mendoza, Argentina

In a sentence...warm weather, good company and delicious cheap red wine.

Food we loved...Portugese style baked fish from the market.

After a spectacular journey through the Andes we arrived in Mendoza ready to indulge in one of our favourite pastimes – drinking wine.

We spent a day simply wandering the shady town and had a fantastic lunch at the central market. After lunch we popped to Parque General San Martin and climbed Cerro de Gloria for some beautiful views of the city and its green surrounds.

The next day we hooked up with four new friends from our hostel and headed to Maipu, where all the wineries are located. We hired bikes from the adorable Mr Hugo and spent the day riding between the wineries tasting their wines. It was a truly fabulous day which culminated in a delicious dinner of ridiculously cheap super pancho (large hot dog) when we returned to Mendoza.

It seems that we had worked up quite an appetite with all that drinking and riding.

Next stop…Salta & Quebrada de Humuhuaca, Argentina.

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Posted 30 March 2015

Bariloche & surrounds, Argentina

In a sentence...lakes, mountains, chocolate and beer.

Food we loved...choripan – a chorizo sausage grilled, cut in half and served in a crusty roll with lashings of chimichurri.

Hard core hikers can spend months in stunning Patagonia in the South of Argentina and Chile. We didn’t have enough time to venture that far down and, let’s face it, hiking is not my favourite activity. So we settled on a short jaunt to Bariloche in the beautiful Lakes District (well, by short I mean a mere 18 hours on a bus).

Bariloche is a kitschy little German-style town set on Lake Nahuel Huapi. It’s filled with shops selling everything they think the tourist might need – outdoor gear, chocolate and ice cream basically. Whilst we were not going to waste our hard earned blue dollars on North Face clothing we did enjoy sampling the locally made chocolates. The ice cream wasn’t bad either. My favourite thing about the town, however, was the dogs. They were lying comatose absolutely everywhere.


Bariloche’s main attraction is its beautiful surroundings and we spent a full day exploring the area on foot and by bike. We started with a walk up to the viewpoint with views of lakes and mountains as far as they eye could see. It was absolutely gorgeous. After that we hired bikes to ride the 25 kilometre “Chico Circuit”. Whilst the ride was a hard slog at times (I was actually crying while trying to get up one of the hills), it was absolutely beautiful as well. And when we finished we visited a few of the local breweries to reward ourselves for all that hard work.

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At the suggestion of our Argentinean friend Miguel we also spent a night on the other side of the lake at Villa Angostura. I liked this little cute as a button town better than Bariloche, perhaps because while we were there we ate the best ice cream we have ever tasted. Before the ice cream discovery we met up with a Dutch girl from our hostel and took a boat trip on the lake to the Arayann forest. We had a picnic lunch on the dock soaking up the sunshine and the amazing views before walking the 13 kilometres back to town.

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We finished off a fabulous day with homemade chilli con carne and a bottle of Argentinean red. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Next stop...Santiago, Chile.

Posted 19 March 2015

Buenos Aires, Argentina

In a sentence...another city added to my “favourites” list.

Food we loved...the steak. Enough said.

After over 10 months on the road the highlights continue. Buenos Aires is a fantastic city which I could happily live in. It has everything I need – good food and coffee, interesting neighbourhoods and plenty of street art.

We stayed in the very cute area of San Telmo which is filled with lovely old buildings, bars and restaurants. Our location proved to be an excellent choice when we simply had to wander around the corner from our hostel to visit San Telmo’s famous antique market. It was a really fabulous market and it was hard to leave without picking up a couple of vintage soda stream bottles (me) or a fob watch (Nick).

The free walking tour we did in Buenos Aires was one of the best we have been on. The guide was a proud passionate Argentinean who gave us a real insight into Argentina’s fascinating history which has included a military dictatorship with all the usual crap that accompanies it – people critical of the regime going “missing”, torture, executions, the list goes on. We were disturbed to learn about the suspicious death of someone who perhaps “knew too much” only a week before our visit.

As we usually do in capital cities, we did a lot of walking exploring different neighbourhoods. In Recoleta we did what thousands before us have done and hunted out Evita’s grave in the cemetery. Palermo was gorgeous and leafy while La Boca was gritty and colourful. During a morning run we checked out Puerto Madero, the old port which has been revamped into an area similiar to London’s Docklands. Running through that area lead us to the lovely Costanera Sur Nature Reserve, a magnet for both bird watchers and avid exercisers. We enjoyed good coffee at Melbourne-like cafes in Palermo and in the midst of San Telmo market.

We paid next to nothing to visit the modern art gallery which was filled with fantastic colourful artworks. We also visited El Zanjon de Granados; the remains of a mansion, a series of tunnels, a sewer and some water wells which date back to about 1730. The entire complex has been beautifully restored and it was a fascinating place to visit.

In between all of this exploration we spent a bit of time sidling up to dodgy looking men on the street to buy “blue market” pesos. Argentina’s economy has never been particularly stable and it suffers from terrible inflation. Argentineans  don’t trust their government and they don’t trust their currency to hold its value. Any pesos they get they change into US dollars as soon as they can. This stash of US dollars is their savings.

In simple terms what all of this means for us travellers is – if we were to withdraw pesos from an ATM our bank would give us the official exchange rate of approximately 8 pesos to one US dollar. If we bring in US dollars from another country and change them on the blue market we get somewhere between 12 and 13 pesos to one US dollar. A huge difference.

On a lighter note, time to talk about food...

One of the nicest things about Buenos Aires was the return to supermarket shelves of some of our favourite items – crusty baguettes, cured meats, yum yum. We were able to enjoy a few picnic lunches after visits to the very cute San Telmo market.

And the bakeries - they were filled to the brim with fabulous treats, most of which utilise the infamous dulce de leche. Literally this translates to the rather gross sounding “milk jam” but it’s basically a delicious caramel sauce.

And of course, in the evenings, we had to sample some of Argentina’s famous steak. We went to a restaurant recommended by our Canadian friend Marty. The decor was terrible and the service was appalling but the tenderness of the steak made up for all of that. We loved our first experience of chimichurri, a sauce made from finely chopped tomato or red pepper, parsley, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. It’s the perfect accompaniment to steak. We went back the next night. And we didn’t even mind when it took them 20 minutes to take our order.

Our time in Buenos Aires was far too short but I’m sure that even if we had spent two weeks there I still would not have wanted to leave.

Next stop...Bariloche & surrounds, Argentina.

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Posted 16 March 2015