Another early morning today and we were downstairs for breakfast at the hotel again at 6:15am.
We were picked up just after 7am again for our day trip south to Cafayate.
Just over an hour out from Salta and about halfway to Cafayate we stopped in the town of La Viña for pit stop.
And also bought some crackers for morning tea.
When then continued on Route 68, leading to the beginning of the Valles Calchaquíes (Calchaquí Valleys).
The vast and serenely beautiful Quebrada de las Conchas (Shell´s Gorge)
The ravine is geologically quite young, produced by tectonic movements that took place two million years ago.
Water and wind have since carved the towering red rock walls into unique and peculiar shapes.
As we got closer to Cafayate, we stopped at Vasija Secreta Winery.
The oldest winery in the region, Vasija Secreta dates back to the 18th century. Our tour of the winery was conducted in Spanish but our guide translated for us into English.
Some of the original oak barrels used for again. Apparently the very small door at the bottom was used for someone to climb inside for cleaning!
The wines produced in the region benefit from the low-humidity mild weather with average rainfall of less than 250 mm per year.
And some obligatory wine tasting. First starting with one of their torrontés white wines, the most characteristic type of wine cultivated in the area made from the white Argentine wine grape.
Described as "Organoleptically intense with notes of tropical fruits with a background to floral notes such as jasmine and rose", it was surprisingly refreshing and quite delicious!
And enjoying their very fine Cabernet Sauvignon, described as "...aromas of green pepper mixed with red fruits such as plum and cherries, accompanied by touches of tobacco and vanilla characteristic of the passage through oak barrels."
We then drove into the centre of Cafayate.
It was just after midday so we headed to Peña y Parrillada de la Plaza for lunch and enjoyed some delicious ravioli and cheese.
And the tasty chicken escalope.
We then stretched our legs for a stroll around Plaza 20 de Febrero.
A flag in the middle of the Plaza with a memorial for Guerra de las Malvinas.
Looking down on the Plaza in the centre of town.
Quebrada de las Conchas to the north where we drove through earlier.
East with the local vineyards stretching out to the mountains.
And a panorama to the south-west.
Our guide had recommended checking out the nearby Calchaquitos for their Alfajores.
Definitely an extensive collection!
We couldn't resist buying a few to takeaway.
Stopping at another restaurant on the Plaza.
And enjoying an afternoon espresso and café doble.
Another stop recommended was the local Heladaria (ice cream shop).
And trying their delicous Malbec-infused ice cream. It was quite strong and I'm sure we would have been tipsy if we had seconds!
An old Ford parked by the Plaza. We then met up with the group again to begin the journey back to Salta.
A weathered rock formation appropriately called 'The Palace'.
We then stopped to explore El Anfiteatro (The Amphitheatre).
A natural formation caused by rock eroded away from water flow off the mountain. Quite a surreal and beautiful location.
And a cool place for some gravity-bending photographs!
A short drive away was our final stop, Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat, although this one was not as impressive as the one at Iguazú), before starting the journey back to Salta.
We made it back to Salta at dusk just after 6pm.
The magnficent Iglesia San Francisco in the fading light.
After an evening walk we ended up at a local Havanna café.
And enjoyed a panini, quiche and coffee at the end of another great day exploring Salta Province.
Our last day in Salta and thankfully we got to enjoy a bit of sleep in this morning before heading downstairs for breakfast.
After checking out of hotel and storing our bags, we headed to the meeting point on Plaza 9 de Julio for the Salta free walking tour. They split us into English and Spanish speaking groups and our guide for today was Almero.
Outside Cabildo de Salta on the southern edge of Plaza 9 de Julio. Almero said that the building dated from 1700's during the Spanish colonial era. It is now home to two museums.
A couple of the local dogs greeting us enthusiastically! Almero said that local businesses give the dogs winter coats in exchange for advertising on them. The dog on the left was called Canelo (masculine form of Canela, or Spanish for Cinnamon) and he said it often followed him on the walking tours.
Our next stop was at the Iglesia San Francisco.
The first building on the location was built in 1625, rebuilt in 1674. It was again rebuilt after fire in the mid-eighteenth century.
Friendly Canelo following a group of school kids as they visit the church.
Continuing our walk down Calle Caseros. Also on the tour was Andy from Ontario. Quite an interesting guy who wrote software for blood splatter analysis. He was seeing some of Argentina before later attending a conference next week in Buenos Aires.
Outside Convento San Bernardo, built in the late sixteenth initially as a hospital but later converted into a convent for nuns.
It was quite interesting chatting to Andy about his profession and the intricacies of blood spatter analysis that result from gruesome murders. I had watched a real crime documentary on Netflix only a few days ago and Andy was well versed on the details of the case and the discredited blood splatter analysis. Definitely one of the more unusual chats with a fellow traveller while on vacation!
At a monument to Martín Miguel de Güemes, a military leader born in Salta who defended Argentina from the Spanish during the Argentine War of Independence in the early nineteenth century.
Walking back into the city centre where Canelo managed to find us again!
As we walked along Bartolomé Mitre the traffic was backing up and we could hear chanting in the distance.
Getting closer we realised it was due to protests outside the Dirección General de Inmuebles. Almero said that with high inflation (20+%) and other economic issues, regular protests were now quite common in Argentina.
And ending our tour in Plaza General Don Martín Miguel de Güemes where we thanked (and tipped) Almero for the great tour.
For lunch we headed to a café that Almero had earlier recommended, El Café del Convento. Coffee and a very sizable alfajores to share.
Followed by some tasty chicken and ham and cheese empanadas.
Some souvenir shopping.
Walking down Calle Alberdi. A lady holding a Argentinian flag for the soon to start World Cup match against Croatia.
At about 2pm we visited the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (Museum of High Mountain Archeology) on the recommendation of Almero. The museum is dedicated to the discovery of archaeological ruins on mountain tops first made in the 1950's.
In March 1999 during an expedition financed by National Geographic, the frozen bodies of a seven-year-old boy ( "El niño" ), a six-year-old girl ( "La niña del rayo" ) and a young fifteen-year-old woman ( "La maiden" ) were found on the summit of Llullaillaco Volcano.
The children were taken to the top of the mountain, fed alcohol to make them sleep and then buried alive as an Inca offering.
A photo of one of the mummies that are kept at the museum in a frozen, preserved state.
La niña del rayo.
After the very interesting and slightly morbid visit to the museum, we briefly joined the crowds at the start of the Argentina and Croatia World Cup group match.
We were a little worried about finding a taxi to the airport with World Cup match on, but luckily it didn't take long. The match was playing on the car radio and managed to hear a Croatia goal just before we pulled up at Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport.
With our boarding passes after passing through security. The World Cup game was playing in the airport cafeteria and while it was packed with people it was awfully silent. I glanced at the screen as I was walking past and was surprised to see Croatia were up 3-0!
Boarding the LATAM Argentina A320 on time at 5:45pm.
Heading for take-off.
And some amazing views out the window as we make our way back to Buenos Aires.
A snack of bizcochos de arroz (rice biscuits) and a coke.
Flying over Buenos Aires on finals to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. It was interesting to see the mix of sodium (yellow) and LED (white) streetlights below.
And catching a taxi into the city centre.
Our room for our one night stay at the Buenos Aires Lancaster on Avenida Córdoba. Only $71 and with its proximity (~400 meters) to the ferry terminal it was perfect for our short stay.
A short stroll away was the Galerías Pacífico on Avenida Córdoba. Originally built in 1889 and modelled on the Le Bon Marché. After having been abandoned for years, the building was renovated and re-opened in 1991 as the current shopping arcade.
For dinner we shared a burger and fries at Madison Café.
And then walked back to the hotel to get some sleep before an early morning tomorrow.
Up before dawn on the morning of day 10.
The headline of Quebrados / Broken with a photo of an aggrieved Lionel Messi on the frontpage of the local newspaper after the World Cup loss to Croatia the day before.
We then made the short walk down Avenida Córdoba to the Buquebus Ferry Terminal.
The terminal was quite modern and almost resembled an airport. After checking in we headed to security and immigration.
Argentina exit migration and Uruguay entry immigration was situated right next to each other so we were conveniently stamped into Uruguay before even boarding.
The departure area had comfy couches, decent wi-fi and was a good place to relax while awaiting the boarding call.
The morning sun about to rise above Dársena Norte (North Dock).
We boarded on time just after 8am.
The journey across to Colonia del Sacramento is ~50 kilometres and would take just over an hour over the mouth of the Río de la Plata.
Settling into our seats at the front of the ferry.
For breakfast we shared a chicken and mozzarella sandwich and hot coffee purchased from the onboard canteen.
Passing another Buquebus ferry making the return journey back to Buenos Aires.
We arrived in Colonia del Sacramento at about 9:45am.
The jetty surrounded by the muddy brown water.
After disembarking we headed off for a walk through town.
The sign outside the old abandoned train station.
The historic Puerto Vieja (Old Town) of Colonia. The city was formed in 1680 by the Portugese on the Río de la Plata.
Since 1995 the historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A short walk away in the historic was La Posadita de la Plaza.
While looking for a place our short stay in Colonia La Posadita de la Plaza not only jumped out for its glowing reviews but also its slightly quirky and interesting decor. At $130 per night including breakfast it wasn't the cheapest option but we couldn't resist booking a night here.
Established by a Brazilian photographer, the posada front room was filled with his photographs from his travels.
It was only 10:30am but we were allowed to check into our room. The posada consisted of four guest rooms, each with a different decor and style.
An old car radiator grill amongst other interesting objects just outside.
And our room for our one night stay.
Although it had quite quirky interior design, it still managed to be quite usable and comfortable.
An old camera, a Aeroflot flight ticket and a James Bond novel in the bedside cabinet.
A world map with other travel related items on the wall.
The bedroom didn't miss out on some of the quirky treatment too!
Turismo en el Uruguay.
After freshening up we headed out for a walk.
But not before having a chocolate brownie and an Americano to share at Gitana Gastrobar.
A tree partly submerged in the brackish water in the Río de la Plata.
A bust of José de San Martín, an Argentine general and leader of the southern and central parts of South America's struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire.
Looking up the tree-lined Avenida General Flores.
The yacht pier stretching out into the muddy water of the Río de la Plata.
And from above.
The Centro Cultural Bastión del Carmen, a theater and gallery complex that hosts art exhibits and concerts.
The tall and enchanting trees on the corner of Rivadavia and Washington Barbot.
La casona (The big house).
Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento.
Established in 1680, it is one of the oldest churches in the country.
For a late lunch we headed to Charco Bistro, located beside the shore of the Río de la Plata.
A very frothy cappuccino and some still water to start.
Followed by fresh warm bread and olive oil.
Rianda opted for the delightful and tasty grilled haddock with seasonal vegetables and green curry with coconut milk.
While I had the mouth-watering braised lamb lasagna and mashed sweet potatos with fresh basil dough. A great location with some amazing food and definitely worth the many superlative reviews!
The Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse, dating from the 1860's and located on part of the ruins of the towers of the San Francisco Xavier convent.
After paying the ~$1.50 entrance fee we ascended the spiralling steps.
A great view over the old town and the Río de la Plata.
And a great place for another holiday selfie!
La Pintada. We then continued our meandering stroll through the old town.
Intendencia de Colonia.
The sun low on the horizon at the end of the day.
And about to set over the Río de la Plata.
And looking back to Colonia del Sacramento.
We then headed back to La Posadita de la Plaza where we finally got to meet the owner and manager, Eduardo. A very welcoming and friendly guy, it was great to chat about how he setup the Posada and all the interesting and eclectic decor.
In the evening we headed out to the nearby Don Peperone.
After the filling and late lunch we opted for a dose of muerte por chocolate and a glass of smooth Irish coffee.
And getting a very friendly buenas noches by one of the neighbourhood dogs at the end of a very relaxing day 10.
In the very colourful and eclectic dining room at La Posadita de la Plaza.
Eduardo busy in the kitchen.
And enjoying our breakfast in the unique decor. It was hard not to get distracted whenever your gaze settled on something you that was a little starnge, quirky and/or very intriguing!
We chatted with Eduardo after checking out, get a brief history of his colourful establishment.
A photo on the wall from nine years ago of one of the neighbourhood dogs.
The dog was still hanging around all these years later too!
After saying farewell to Eduardo and thanking him for the great stay, we made the short trek back down to the ferry terminal for the ride back to Buenos Aires.
Today's ferry was quite a bit larger with a few more cars boarding for the trip back to Argentina.
And equally spacious inside.
Back on Avenida Córdoba after the ferry journey across the Río de la Plata. We went back to the Buenos Aires Lancaster and were luckily allowed to store our bags for the day before flying back home later this evening.
Paro General (general strike).
The flag of Argentina in Plaza de Mayo. In the background is the Casa Rosada, the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. It is also the location of the balcony where Evita gave several of her speeches.
On the western side of the plaza was the Buenos Aires Cabildo, a building that was used as seat of the town council during the colonial era and the government house of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.
The building today hosts the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution. A reconstructed prison cell inside.
Numerous paintings, artifacts, clothes and jewelry of the 18th century were on display. In the background the Cabildo with its eleven original arches. In 1889 to create space for the Avenida de Mayo avenue the three northernmost arches of the original eleven were demolished to create space for Avenida de Mayo. And again in 1931, to create room for Avenida Julio A. Roca the three southernmost arcs were removed, leaving only five of the original arches which still stand today.
After walking down Avenida de Mayo we arrived at Café Tortoni, a famous Buenos Aires coffeehouse first established in 1858.
There was a bit of a queue but luckily we didn't have to wait very long.
The café still has its original decor from its early years and was almost like stepping back in time.
Famous former guests include Juan Manuel Fangio, Albert Einstein, Hillary Clinton and Robert Duvall.
Being our last proper meal in Argentina we couldn't resist indulging with this very tasty spread for lunch.
After eating a little too much at Café Tortoni we attempted to walk it off by continuing our walk through the city centre.
The health ministry building in the background with a mural of Evita at the microphone on Avenida 9 de Julio.
Outside the Palace of the Congress of the Argentine Nation.
Don't cry for me, England. A movie poster outside a cinema featuring the Buenos Aires Cabildo with its original eleven arches.
Back at Obelisco de Buenos Aires on Avenida 9 de Julio.
Teatro Colón, the main opera house in Buenos Aires.
Tango dancers outside Galerías Pacífico.
Watching the Germany vs. Sweden World Cup match with the locals in General San Martin Plaza.
Just before 6pm we headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags and caught a taxi to Ministro Pistarini International Airport to begin the journey home.
The deep red sky as the sun sets at the end of our trip.
Heading inside to check-in at one of the automated kiosks.
Airside with a sándwich de jamón y queso to hold off until dinner on the plane.
And about to board the ET787 at the end of another amazing trip to South America!