Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End Jun 21, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Northern Argentina,
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

As usual after a night bus, we were absolutely knackered on the morning we reached Salta, so after a short taxi ride to the hostel, we went straight to bed for a few hours.  We eventually made it out of bed in the afternoon and made our way to see what Salta had to offer.  Like every other Argentinean town weŽd been to, Salta is built around a central square with obligatory statue of San Martin, Cathedral, and government buildings.  This was about as far as we got on our first day, as all the Churches and museums were closed for the afternoon, but we did make it to a restaurant for the usual steak and salad for dinner. 
The next morning, we decided that Salta wasnŽt really that exciting and that weŽd better see about getting some transport across the border back into Chile.  We quickly found out that this wouldnŽt be as easy as weŽd thought, as buses only go three times a week.  On top of that it was the 1st of May and so after walking across town we found the ticket office closed.  This wasnŽt all bad as we did go to see the ancient convent of San Bernado, and the park which was full of families celebrating the day off.  The rest of the day was spent wandering around town some more and we actually got a look in a couple of the churches, including the famous "wedding cake" Iglesia de San Francisco.  In the evening we finally got to try the famous Parillada, or Argentinean mixed grill.  This was a huge pile of beef, pork, chicken, tripe, kidneys, sausages, tomato and the rest and was awesome, with the usual bottle of wine.
The next day we actually succeeded in getting the tickets first thing and after a great breakfast at Cafe van Gogh we paid a more successful visit to the ticket office.  From the bus station we made our way to the cable car which took us up the hill overlooking the town where we spent an hour or so enjoying the gardens and drinking fresh lemonade on the terrace whilst taking in the views, before we walked down the path to the bottom of the hill.  From here we strolled to the shiny new shopping mall which was packed with wealthy young Argies, before heading back to the hostel.  In the afternoon we went back into town to take advantage of the 3-empanadas-with-wine-for-a-pound offer in our new favourite cafe, and generally lazed about after that.   In the evening we went out to a local italian (?) restaurant with some interesting characters from our hostel.  We were quickly convinced that the guy who invited us did so only so that we could listen to him talk about himslef all night and his many fabulous achievements.  Also invited was his new girlfriend heŽd met in a club a few nights previously who only spoke spanish, and his travel companion who worshipped the ground he walked on.  We managed to bring along a nice Swiss girl who made the meal a bit more bearable, but all told we were quite happy to pass on the nightclub visit and have a couple more drinks back at the hostel

The next day was more relaxing in cafes and walking around shops, and we didnŽt get up to anything particularly special.  Henry took up the empanada offer again for lunch, and in the evening we went to the cinema in the mall to watch Iron Man which was awesome, especially with pizza thrown in. 

The next morning we were up early to get on our bus to San Pedro in Chile.  The bus took a long winding road through the Andes, through some spectacular canyons and mountains.  The pass is one of the highest in South America and is closed at some times of year, coach companies even refuse to take the journey at night!  All was going well untill the bus suddenly pulled over and stopped for no apparent reason.  The driver and his mate then came up and asked if anyone was a mechanic.  Worrying.  It turned out that the bus was terminally screwed and that weŽd have to wait for another one to be called up; at this point we were 5 hours from both our point of departure and destination and so we knew that help would be a long time coming.  Henry took the opportunity to wander up a nearby hill to  look at some some cactii, and we were fortunate enough to stop by some old llama herder huts which were interesting, but the majority of the time we spent sleeping and reading.  Eventually, some six hours after we stopped, we were finally rescued by another bus company.  Hooray!  We quickly shifted our bags to the new bus and drove all of 10km till we passed another bus from our original company...and stopped again.  Then moved all our bags again.  Then moved on again.  Extremely annoying, but at last this was the final interruption before arriving in Chile. 
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