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We spent about six weeks in Salta, Argentina and fell in love with its laid-back charm, cobbled streets and terracotta roofs. Practically the whole town closes from 1-5pm – even the surgeons go home to spend time with their families – giving a taste of the pace of life and values of the city. These were our highlights.
1. Plaza 9 de Julio
This is one of the best town squares we’ve ever seen. It’s full of beautiful trees – palms, orange and flowering – and the inside feels serenely secluded. It’s bordered by a plethora of cafes including our favourite, The Victoria, where we frequently went for an afternoon merienda of medialunas, coffee, orange juice and sparkling water.
There always seemed to be something going on in the square from concerts to protests, to marching bands and art shows. It’s a fantastic, and beautiful, community hub.
2. Cerro San Bernardo
The view from atop the Cerro San Bernardo is spectacular. You can get their via the gondola or walk up the hill. Bizarrely, in addition to a few permanent gym apparatus, there was a makeshift collection of weight and running machines on top during the time we were there – accompanies by blaring pop music. It’s apparently a Salta government fitness initiative. Granted, the views are amazing but I think we’d have trouble being motivated to get up there in the first place. Luckily, a cafe on the other side is sheltered from the music.
We went there on what would have been my Mum’s birthday to make a toast and watch the sunset. It was beautiful.
3. The people
Our time in Salta was made by the people – namely Leigh, Noah and their daughter Lila. They run Cloudhead Art, a brilliant arts organisation that does all sorts of things such as teaching media skills to disadvantaged teens, and helps connect volunteers and organisations in Salta.
We stayed with them for a bit and volunteered on some of their projects. It was a pleasure hanging out with them and we’re going to miss them – Lila even made us friendship bracelets when we left. We will treasure them
Salta is famed for its empanadas and we ate a mountain of them while we were there. Our favourites were the caprese in New Time (Caseros 602) and the cheese in The Victoria (Zuvira 16). We also loved Patio de Las Empanadas for its convivial atmosphere. It was full of local people sharing a mass of empanadas and a litre of coke and is apparently popular with taxi drivers – a good sign of a bargain. We were also fans of humitas – a corn mixture wrapped in husks. However, our all-time favourite empanadas were found in Cafayate.
5. San Lorenzo
Leigh and Noah live in San Lorenzo, an area just outside the city, about 15 minutes by bus. It feels like the countryside and is a wonderful hideaway from the city. The picture above was taken one day when we went out walking in the area and found a spot to share a mate drink.
6. Casona del Molino
Salta is famous for its peñas where group ps of musicians gather to sing impassioned folk songs. Most have been turned into tourist traps and lost their authenticity, but Casona del Molino stands outside that crowd. The sprawling multi-room restaurant is home to impromptu music sessions each night and never failed to delight us. Watch a video of a night at Casona del Molino here.
7. Our apartment
We were in Salta primarily to get some work done. I was working on this blog and our second project The Vegetarian Travel Guide, and Steve was working on his film Continuum. Luckily we had the perfect base for doing that in our beautiful flat on Santa Fe in the centre of town. The apartment block even had a sauna and a jacuzzi. Unfortunately, the jacuzzi was broken during our time there but we did make good use of the sauna. We also watched a slightly ridiculous amount of Friends re-runs, and on one night Dirty Dancing.
The view was wonderful.
8. Mercado Central
The central market in Salta is a great place to go to get cheap and unusual vegetables. Look out for what’s in season and you’ll find the best prices. There are also loads of spices on offer, which is great in a country that tends to avoid anything remotely hot.
Thanks to Leigh, Noah and Lila at Clouhead for helping us to find most of these excellent things in Salta, Argentina.