Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week Four Daily Journal

Friday, October 22
Cafayate, Argentina

We headed back to the plaza for breakfast and shared an overpriced omelet and some coffees.  On our way to the first winery, we stopped off to see some ruins and picked up a local guide named Miguel.  We never would've found the stuff we were supposed to see if we hadn't had him with us, although we're still not sure how much of what we saw was actually ancient cave art, or more recent Miguel art.  Jesse practiced driving stick and then we went to Finca las Nubles.  We had a tour and tasting in Spanish (doesn't even matter any more, since we've done so many winery tours we would probably understand it in any language) and then had a dream lunch - empanadas, grilled veggies, 2 small perfectly cooked pieces of steak and a cheese plate.
Old wine barrels at Porvenir

Next we went to Estecco, where we sampled DSM's namesake wines from the Don David line.  At our next stop, El Porvenir, we wine tasted with a group of men from all different countries who were developing a resort and golf course in the area on land owned by the owner of the winery.  Needless to say, we got to try some of the good stuff that isn't on the normal tasting menu.  We finished up at Salvador Figuera, a tiny one-man operation.  After resting up (and recuperating) we went to El Terruno for a very tasty dinner.

Saturday, October 23
Cafayate, Argentina to Salta, Argentina

Great scenery on the road between Cafayate and Salta
We spent part of our morning trying to find the winery San Pedro de Yacochuya, and when we finally found it, discovered that tastings were only by appointment.  Oh well.  The road from Cafayate to Salta was gorgeous and we stopped to check out the many signposted rock formations.  We stopped for lunch at a lakeside restaurant where Dave accidentally ordered the fish with garlic sauce rather than the chicken with garlic sauce much to his disappointment.  Back in Salta, we checked in to the gorgeous Sheraton Salta for only 3000 points and went to the pool and then had a proper shower without flip-flops.  Dinner was at Viejo Jack where we ordered steak and chicken which turned out to be enough for at least 4 people.

Sunday, October 24
Salta, Argentina, to Tilcara, Argentina

Billy goats!
We drove north from Salta, past Jujuy, and stopped in Purmumarca, where we paid 5 pesos to park (enraging Dave for hours), ate our lunch of Viejo Jack leftovers and perused some of the traditional Pumumarca textiles.  Next we drove to Humuarca (stopping at a museum and at the Tropic of Capricorn monument) and after about an hour there drove back south to Tilcara, where we spent the night (after driving around for a while and looking for a place to stay) at a hotel Agua Canta.  We went to a local place for dinner where Dave had llama in gravy (sort of like a mediocre brisket in gravy (and adding insult to injury, not one hour before we had been petting llamas)) and Jesse had locro (a traditional maize based stew, it was ok).

Monday, October 25
Tilcara, Argentina to Salta, Argentina

Road back to Salta
We drove back past Pumamarca along a windy road that climbed to over 12,000 feet until we finally reached the edge of the salt plains.  We stopped (along with a tour bus) at a salt mining operation and explored the salt bricks, huge piles of salt, and miles of salt flats.  Also the salt llamas and other salt creations being sold by local peoples.  We spent a while taking funny pictures that used the lack of perspective, most of which we subsequently lost when our memory card failed.  After driving for an hour and a half down a horribly rutted road, we stopped in San Antonio de Los Cobres.  We were starving for lunch but since it was siesta obviously everything was closed.  So we (along with some other people from BA) approached a lady on the street who had a little portable oven grill type thing.  She ran home and made us some empanadas, they were delicious.  J then bought a knit hat and fittens from a lady on the street.  Before leaving town we drove to the "don't miss" viaduct, which we surely could have missed especially given how long it took us to get there.  The last part of the day was the drive back to Salta along the route taken by La Tren de Los Nubles.  Especially noteworthy was when road work required that we drive along a dry riverbed.  After we dropped off the car back in Salta we attempted to go to a new hostel we had made a reservation at but they totally screwed it up so we were back at Inti Huasi in the same musty smelling room with the same somewhat questionable shared bathroom.  We couldn't find any of the places we wanted for dinner so we ended up a random place by the square where J had a mushroom omelet and D had grilled chicken.

Tuesday, October 26
Salta, Argentina

Steak and eggs, clean plate club
We slept in and then changed to a different room with private bathroom that was well worth the extra 20 pesos ($5).  Then we dropped off our laundry and picked up the rental car and drove out to San Lorenzo, a leafy suburb of Salta.  We checked out some of the huge mansions and then had lunch (J salad, D steak with onions, peppers and an egg).  We drove up to the Quedabra de Caminos which turned out to be a nice looking woodsy area to hike in, except J was wearing flip flops so we passed and headed back to Salta where we tried to return the rental car.  However, since it was the middle of the afternoon, the rental car place was closed.  Pretty much everything in Salta closes from 12-5 which really screws up many of our days.  So we drove it back to the hostel and then back in later.  For dinner we went to a pizza place.  Definitely not NY pizza but it was ok.

Wednesday, October 27
Sayta Estancia, Chicoana, Argentina

We were picked up at 9am and driven to Sayta Ranch where we were met by the charismatic owner, Enrique.  The incredibly fun day consisted of breakfast, ride, ridiculous pork feast, afternoon ride (really difficult after all that wine and food!), tea, and empanadas and tamales for dinner.  There were some great people staying atthe ranch - a family from VT on their own RTW trip (Tammi, Brian, Ian, Reed and May), a German couple (Niko and Rebekah), and a French couple (Doris and Patrick).  We all got along really well, and Niko and Rebekah taught us to play Schneffel (?), a dice game similar to Uno.  J lost.  I can't even imagine how well Taryn would do with her crazy 4-5-6 dice-rolling skills.  

Thursday, October 28
Sayta Estancia, Chicoana, Argentina

Another full day at the ranch.  The French couple left, but we were joined by Claire from England.  Lunch was lomo, dinner was pasta with salsa de Enrique.

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