As with most bus rides in Argentina, we hopped aboard early evening in Mendoza to arrive in Córdoba early the next morning. From the temperature outside it was clear immediately that we had moved away considerably from the mountains – the biting chill was out of the air, no longer stinging our rosy cheeks.
Where we stayed: It was only about 2km from the bus terminal on Boulevard Peron to Baluch Backpackers Hostel, an easy, level 20 minute walk. The hostel itself is quite nice – there is a rooftop BBQ and hang out area with amazing wall art, and an open and friendly lounge area with a balcony overlooking the street. We were pleasantly surprised to find that for breakfast they not only provide the usual of bread, jam, juice and cereal, they also set out a basket of eggs that guests can prepare. The current owners have only been managing the hostel for a couple of months, and they had a really great line-up of weekly social events like language exchange and pub crawls among other things. Beds and bathrooms were clean, and the four of us got a room all to ourselves!
Our explorations: In Córdoba we spent a lot of time walking around, exploring and just hanging around outdoors; there wasn’t anything specific we went there to see or do, so we were open to anything interesting that tourist maps offered up, or locals recommended. Our first exploration took us to a glittering decorated Manzana Jesuitica de Córdoba (jesuit church), an outdoor market with everything from precious stones, pipes, socks and an anti-Monsanto advocate; the imposing Iglesia Catedral with the expected iconography, exquisitely carved out of marble and wood. However, outside the cathedral the pastoral atmosphere was rudely broken into by a sound like a cat being strangled slowly and very painfully… turns out the guy walking around the San Martín Plaza selling cheap candy (or something) was making this inhuman sound to attract attention to his wares o.O We also stopped by the Capuchin Church which had really beautiful architecture, and seemed like a popular hangout place. The only odd bits were the grotesque mini gargoyles, scattered-around statues of men in tortured ecstasy.
Satisfying Appetites: We looped around our hostel and went to the Mercado Municipal just north of downtown (also called Mercado Norte) – an indoor market for really fresh, beautiful produce, meat (picture a whole pig hanging from the ceiling next to the walking areas, being carved as per the customers’ particular desire), dried and candied fruit. surprisingly it had a bit of a rustic European feel with a South American twist. The oranges and pears we bought were so sweet and juicy! There were also vendors selling chocolate, candy, spirits and wine (this is Argentina after all, wine is everywhere) as well as lunch eateries selling sandwiches, pizza slices and the ever-present empanadas. This is where we had some of the most delicious empanadas of the whole trip; they call it Empanada Arabe, a triangular pastry that contains ground beef, tomato, lemon and an array of different spices. That last bit of lemon juice they squeeze over the top is the tangy cherry on the cake! The owner also insisted we try soda water with the table wine – a first for me.
With so many options we took a small picnic back up to the roof at the hostel and had a feast of fruits, dried sausages, olives, wine, empanadas, and then had an impromptu jam session.
After Mendoza Tom and Ryan had kept in touch with the Aussies Todd and Billie and it just so happened that they were in Cordoba that night. After an afternoon nap Tom, Ryan and I headed out to meet up with them and Marelise had a night in. They were staying at more of a party hostel called Le Grand only 15 blocks away. We had a great night hanging out, having a few drinks, sharing stories, and playing a bit of pool and table tennis. Afterwards they took us to a small, odd nightclub called Black Sheep. The night is a little fuzzy after this but it seemed an interesting enough place, a decent crowd, but we weren’t very fond of the stale techno music. So after a bit we went for a walk, eventually heading back to the hostel in high spirits.
The entire second day was spent outside Córdoba in a town called General Belgrano. It is famous in the area for being a “German-town”, which means they had a lot of German expats there some years ago (a little German colony). In the present day it has translated into a tourist town of wooden carvings with very stereotypical blond German figurines in ‘lederhosen’ and brandishing a beer tankard… Photos and more in our next post. 😉
Moving on: After two days in Córdoba we were planning on heading to Buenos Aires, but somewhere in the recesses of the deep, dark Inter-web we heard the rumor of train travel through Argentina… As true as this turned out to be, we were not destined to depart from our bus-traveling ways – the train system in Argentina is not very extensive (there are a couple of lines between Buenos Aires and Cordoba, Rosario and one other southern city); the website is not updated at all and they don’t answer the phone at the train terminal. Therefore the only way to buy a ticket is to go to the terminal in person. This is great, except that tickets are so much cheaper than bussing around, that all tickets are bought up weeks in advance by the knowing locals. Oh well. 🙂