Salta – Days 207 & 208

Mon 27th – Tues 28th Aug

It’s time to leave Mendoza and head north. It’s my first long long bus journey and I’m looking at about 20 hours to get to Salta. Of all the empty seats on the bus I end up sitting next to someone who of course has no earphones and decides to listen to music. I can’t hack this for 20 hours so have a word with the driver and move seats!

Sitting comfortably, I kick back and relax. I manage to write up most of my Spanish notes, get chatting to 2 cool Ozzie guys sat in front of me and watch a few movies. Having successfully killed 10 hours and now around 10pm, I deem it a reasonable hour to try and get some sleep. Seat back, ear plugs in and it doesn’t take long. It’s not the best nights sleep I’ve had but do manage to get some. We arrive in Salta about 8am ish and me, Matt and Pete walk into town together to our respective hostels, swapping details to hook up later. I’m hoping my hostel will let me check in but the guy was a bit of a jobs worth and even thou the whole room was empty, I’m not allowed to check in until the allowed time of 2pm! I’m repeatedly told it is stated on! Cheers mate! After much deliberation, the receptionist guy yields and I can at least take a shower! Not being able to get some sleep, feeling marginally refreshed I go into town to do the free city walking tour.

There’s only a few of us and we start in the main square with the beautiful pink catherdral building.

This part of the country is staunch catholic with about 96% of the population. The pope visited in 1987 and the city’s population grew ten-fold. There is also a huge religious ceremony in September and schools are already visiting by the dozen to attend special masses in the cathedral.

Our next stop is the beautiful picture postcard San Francisco church. Created by an Italian architect in baroque style.

Then it’s on to what used to the San Andres hospital.

In the late 1800s, the city experienced a boom and grew so much that it had outgrown this little hospital and so it became a cloister convent – the same as Santa Catalina in Arequipa.

We walk through a very nice neighbourhood with some amazing houses and hefty price tags up to the Guemes monument.

In 1810, he joined the army destined to fight the Spanish troops. In 1815, he organized the resistance against the royalists (forces loyal to Spain) with no army help, he created his own militia by employing local gauchos trained in guerrilla tactics to protect the northern part of the country. He became a national hero after dying fighting for the cause of independence from the Spanish. Every year in June there is a big celebration where guachos gather here to commemorate him.

Salta was discovered when the spanish were building the road that would connect Buenos Aires to Lima. They needed hubs for stopping and reading along the way and Salta became a main location for this. This road, once known as Royal Road id not the Pan-American Highway.

Walking around I stumble across this beautiful church.

Salta is a beautiful city and that is what the word means. Salta is taken from Quechua which literally means pretty pretty or beautiful – Salta la Linda.

Tour done and starving, it’s time for some lunch so go to one of the famous empanada places in town – La Tacita and they’re bloody good.

It’s such a hot day, the sun a welcome break from all the cold weather Ive been in the last few weeks I decide to walk up Cerro San Bernardo.

Back to the Guemes Monument and 1200 of so steps. It’s a pleasant walk and not too taxing but all the locals are donned in gym gear running up….another time for me maybe! They have these religious stands every so often and it only strikes me at number 7 that they are the stations of the cross!

The top is a lovely place with a big water feature, restaurant, lots of religious statues and even a wine truck.

The view is pretty cool down over the city too.

Photos done and gone 2, I can now head back to my hostel to check in.

Checked in and chilling, I get a text off the Ozzie’s to join them for a beer. It would’ve rude not to and it’s such a gorgeous day. Their hostel has a garden so it’s a few beers sat chilling in the sunshine and booking a tour to this regions bodegas tomorrow.

Pete, having been here before, is meeting up with a friend for a drink and Matt and I go along too. Looking to go for food I mention to Cami a restaurant I had read about and wanted to try. Turns out it’s a good place to go and literally just around the corner. Cue – more wine and the best steak I’ve ever had in my life…wow! Tannat is also a really nice wine.

A great night with good food and company.

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