Steak and Wine Galore
14.07.2010 - 16.07.2010 5 °C
We arrived into Salta around 9pm and found our hostel. The owners were so friendly that they offered us some of the leftovers of that night's 'Asado' (Argentinian barbeque with lots and lots of beef!). So after only being in Argentina for a few hours we'd already had our first taste of steak and red wine that we'd been looking forward to!
Thanks to some toasty bedside heaters, our hostel room wasn´t too bad at night. The only problem was that it was raining really heavily and I was rudely awakened by water dripping on my head!
The next day we had a look around the town, which was very Westernised. We tried some empañadas (Argentinian Pasties) which are very popular here and we can see why! very tasty! In the evening we went to a restaurant in search of some good steak, and we weren't disappointed! We found it really funny that the steak came completely on its own and you had to order accompaniments if you wanted. We decided to share one piece between us which was lucky because it was the most enormous steak I've ever seen!
The next day we'd planned a tour to the wine making town of Cafayate. When we booked the woman said that we'd be in a small group of 4 people, so we were not impressed when a minivan came to pick us up. We couldn't be annoyed with the guide as he worked for another company, so we planned on having a word with the tour agency when we got back.
We were hoping that after over a week of being cold cold cold in Uyuni and San Pedro, Argentina might be a bit warmer. When we woke up for our first morning in Salta it was snowing....for the first time in 10 YEARS! Looks like we´re destined to be cold for the forseeable future! All the locals were really excited to see snow for the first time in ages, but we were less than impressed to have to continue with the 3 jumper, hat, gloves and shiver combo.
The road to Cafayate passes through 'Las Conchas Gorge' which looks like something out of the wild west, with bright red jagged mountains and the odd cactus here and there. Wind and rain erosion to the cliffs has caused some spectacular rock formations (which I´m aware sounds ridiculously lame written down, but are actually really impressive). They also have exciting names like ´La Garganta del Diablo´ (The Devil’s Throat) and ´El Anfiteatro´ (The Amphitheatre).
Just before arriving in Cafayate we stopped off at our first vineyard to take a tour (frustratingly in Spanish) and try some of the famous Argentinian wine. It was delicious, especially the super fruity traditional ´torontes´white wine. We stopped for a while in Cafayate for a lunch of Argentine fare and then visited our second vineyard which was a lot prettier and had a ´translator´who attempted to explain the tour in English.
We tried a few more glasses of vino, a musty red Malbec and a sickly sweet desert wine before climbing back into the minibus for the 3 hour trip home. On the way back we stopped for some pictures of the snow covered mountains (an extremely rare sight in Salta which was completely lost on us but made our guide very excited indeed!).
When we got back we headed straight to the tour agency to complain that the "private"4 person English tour in a small car that we´d paid for was actually a 16 person mainly Spanish tour in a minibus. Unsurprisingly the only person at the office was a man who conveniently didn´t speak a word of English. We tried rather comedically to argue with him in our terrible Spanish, and it was clear he knew exactly what we were saying, but he just kept telling us we had to come back tomorrow when the English speaking lady was back. We´d be 2000km away in Mendoza by then though so we had to give up the fight and accept an extremely generous 3 pound refund for our troubles!
That evening we happily boarded the night bus to Mendoza, oblivous that it would be the worst journey of the trip so far...