Our Marketing Intern, Natalie, just got back from a week exploring Salta, Argentina and would love to share her travel experience and tips with you in her series of blogs this week. Look for entries covering the city of Salta, a tour to Salinas Grandes, wine tasting in Cafayate, biking Valle Calchaqui, and her excursions in between.
A Day in the Colonial City of Salta:
After a 20 hour bus ride from the bustling, asado eating and tango dancing city of Buenos Aires I arrived in the historical colonial city of Salta and immediately celebrated with a trip to the Patio de Empanadas. It’s a solid stroll from the bus station through a lovely long green park festive with pick-up futbol matches and street food venders selling Sunday´s tamales (corn dough filled with meat or cheese then wrapped in the corn husks and boiled. You can only get them on Sunday´s and maybe Monday if there are any left over, so make sure to grab the steaming pockets while you can).
Entering into the Patio de Empanada you are greeted by several tiny elderly ladies with hands still hot from baking and frying. The patio is surrounded by these grandmother figures ready to win your love with plates of one of Salta´s claim to fame. The cheese, carne picada, and calabaza empanadas topped with dollops of salsa picante are the traditional flavors and they go great with the local Salta brew.
Hot Spots and Vistas
After a stroll to the main plaza, a lap around the Easter-egg colored Cathedral in Plaza 9 de Julio with a dizzying floor resembling the art work of Escher, followed by some minutes of respectful silence in Iglesia San Fransisco (claimed by the Salteñas to have the highest bell tower in all of Argentina) we headed to San Bernardo Hill for Sunset. Most tourists pay the fee to take the glass, ball shaped cable car up the hill, which gives you a stunning 360 degree view of the city, but we opted for buddying up on motos and took the windy road to the top passing a good number of healthy hearted walkers tackling the 1070 stairs to the look-out point. The view is expansive and the Submarinos (steamed milk with a chocolate bar submerged inside) at the hill top café counteracted the crisp mountain air as the sun set and the city lights illuminated.
Peñas: A Salteña Goucho Dinner and Dance Fiesta
After a jam packed day of sight-seeing and empanada indulging we miraculously found ourselves hungry again and headed to the Balcarce strip to choose from one of the many peñas pumping live folkloric music into the streets. We ordered the traditional parrilla asado, which came with a surprising number of piping hot cow parts I had yet to taste in Buenos Aires. The mountain of meat and organs washed down perfectly with the Salteña Malbec table wine.
As the night progressed the cantante (singer) migrated from classic argentine love songs, sporadically accompanied by the heartfull wails of the local diners, to a full on folk dance party with hankies waving in the air. Finishing up dinner around 1 am, Balcarce was packed with young Salteñas sipping fernet and cokes and ready to dance till the sun rose to anything but folk music. During the day Salta is a quaint colonial city, but at night it´s a whole other story, possibly rivaling Buenos Aires for cultural nightlife enthusiasm!