Friday, November 19, 2010

Week Three Daily Journal

Friday, October 15
Mendoza, Argentina

Francisco dropped us off at Hostal Lao in the morning and we joined a group trip from our hostel to Pulenta, a bodega and winery in Valle de Uca. After the obligatory tour, we had a great wine tasting and a delicious asado for lunch (see post Asado with Money, Asado with Love).  We didn't get back to the hostel until early evening and Dave napped and then we headed out to an Internet cafe and had a few crackers for dinner.

Saturday, October 16
Mendoza, Argentina

Look at the love in the pup's eyes
Diego picked us up at 10:30 for our horseback riding trip.  We had a great day with him, riding our horses Balthazar (J) and Toki (D) through the foothills outside of Mendoza.  After about 3 hours we stopped at a mountain cabin in a clearing and Diego cooked us a delicious asado (see post Asado with Money, Asado with Love). We hung out eating and drinking for a few hours before returning to the ranch. A great day - Diego can be reached at  In the evening (well, around midnight) we headed out to the bar Por Aca with Pablo (Rachel Packer's friend) and a few of his friends.  It was lots of fun and the music and company was great. The dancing was just getting started when we left at 3am.  We really have to start getting used to the crazy hours these Argentines keep!

Sunday, October 17
Mendoza, Argentina

Multi-tasking at Anna Bistro
After our late night, we slept in and barely made it out of our room by the 11:30 check out.  Our big plans for the day (laundry, movistar (the cell company)) were foiled because  everything in Mendoza is closed on Sunday.  We went back to Cafe Havana for more coffees, this time trying alfahores, an Argentine pastry that is basically a cookie sandwich with dolce de leche in the middle, and all the whole thing covered with chocolate.  Yum.  We walked around for a while but nothing was open so we headed to our next eating spot, lunch at Anna Bistro, recommended by our hostel.  It was full of families celebrating Mothers Day and we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in their beautiful garden.  Next we checked out the big city park ("the Central Park of Mendoza" (hardly)).  That night we boarded our bus to Salta - 18-20 hours in "executive class" seats (see post 18 Hours of Whining and Carbs).

Monday, October 18
Salta, Argentina

BJM, we'll send you the (tiny) bill
We arrived in Salta at around 3:30 PM and checked into our hostel, Inti Huasi.  It was our cheapest hostel yet ($25/night) and, i guess you get what you pay for.  It ended up being fine, although 1) it had a musty smell in the rooms, 2) neither of us let the blanket touch us while we slept and 3) the shared bathroom was kind of grungy (this was our first non-private bathroom, and the experience taught me that yes, I'd prefer a private bathroom but I would be ok sharing a really nice bathroom. Although I think the odds of a really nice shared bathroom are low.).  We were starving so we walked to the Plaza 9 de Julio (the main plaza) and had a snack of empanadas and salad (bet you cant guess who ordered what), went to movistar and claro (turns out its extremely expensive for us to get a data plan for the iphone, ughhhh), did some sightseeing and bought Jesse a watch (we were getting a little tired of checking the camera to see the time).  For dinner we went to Monumental, which many people recommended as the best steak in Salta, and celebrated our traditional dating anniversary steak meal. We greatly missed Brian and Erica, who generally join us and pick up the tab as a result of a horrible bet Brian made many years ago.  The steaks were only $8 usd (!!!) and were delicious.

Tuesday, October 19
Salta, Argentina

We spent the morning talking to various car rental agencies and comparing the prices for a week long rental.  After lunch at Dona Salta (voted "best empanadas" by the guy who helped us at the cellphone store) we went for a walk up to the top of a huge hill overlooking Salta.  It ended up being quite a hike, with over 1000 steps, an uphill road portion, and the searing sun blasting us.  At the top was a nice little park, a major water feature, and a great sense of accomplishment.  However, we opted to take the funicular down.  Later that evening we visited MAM - I'm not sure what the acronym stands for, but it is a museum that houses an incredible archeological find (see post Salta La Linda).  We returned to the car rental spot we liked the best, ANKA, and booked our car for the week (only managing to get a discount on the GPS rental). 

For dinner we went to a peña, like a dinner spot with a "traditional" Salta song and dance show, at a place called El Viejo Estacion.  We do love our cultural immersion.  This time, however, we put our heads down and avoided being selected to suit up in a gaucho vest or skirt and perform a dance on stage with the performers. The reason we weren't fun was probably from being hungry, having been barely able to find any edible meat in our mostly bone goat dishes.

Wednesday, October 20
Salta, Argentina to Payogasta, Argentina

This morning we picked up the car and (after a brief stick shift practice period on some quiet side streets) headed out towards Cachi.  Dave admirably drove us through the busy streets of Salta and then the treacherous unpaved, hilly, narrow, winding mountain passes towards Cachi without stalling once.  We checked out the town of Cachi (not much doin) and spent the night at a great hotel about 10k away, Sala de Payogasta, where we ate lunch (ok), dinner (delicious lamb and a quinoa salad) and breakfast (fab). The views from our room were incredible.  (See posts Road Trip Part Uno and Road Trip Part Dos)

Thursday, October 21
Payogasta, Argentina to Cafayate, Argentina

We were sad to leave the luxury of Sala de Payogasta. After a quick stop in Cachi we drove to Colome, to visit the winery and museum (which was really cool) and have a light lunch.  We spent so long at Colome that we didn't get to Cafayate until after it was dark. Luckily the last part of the drive was paved.  Ahhhhh.... Paved road.  We finally found our lodging for the night - we had emailed a different place for a reservation and they wrote back that they were full but had booked us elsewhere.  So, knowing nothing about the place other than that it was 90 pesos per night ($22 USD) and had a private bathroom, we went.  It was fine.  There was a big party going on in the backyard but it turned out to be for a 4 year olds birthday, so it ended pretty early (early meaning 10pm... this is Argentina, after all).  We went to El Rancho on the plaza for some steak and then to Heladeria Miranda, where Dave had the banana-dulce de leche ice cream (delicious) and Jesse decided to go for their famous wine ice cream (meh).  (See post Road Trip Part Dos)

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