Leaving Bolivia really did feel like a relief - to get out we had to pass through Villazon which must be the coldest place in the world. Thankfully it only took about an hour from arriving there to crossing the border into Argentina, and being on a bus from La Quiaca to Salta. The difference in the quality of the bus was huge, it was actually warm inside which was something totally new to us. The ride lasted a pleasant 8hours and passed through some spectacular desert landscape. We gave up on making hostel reservations ages ago, instead trusting recommendations or people at bus stations with flyers. This tactic came good again as a lovely lady offered us a twin ensuite room with tv for 60pesos. It really was a charming place to stay with a little old lady running the show, hot bread for breakfast with home made jam. We were introduced to just about every member of her family, including the numerous grandchildren. These places are always a lot nicer to stay in than the soulless backpacker hostels.
Salta itself was a breath of fresh air, a very western city. In the taxi on the way from the bus terminal we spied a multiplex cinema, shopping centre, Mcdonalds and Blockbuster Video...civilisation!! There isn´t a huge amount to do here aside from adventure activities in the surrounding valleys (our budgets don´t stretch that far anymore) and the usual list of museums, so the cinema and mcdonalds made for nice diversions (read large double quarter pounder with cheese meal and Narnia 2).
One thing that struck us walking around was how everyone buys everything on credit - its clear to us now how Argentina recovered from it´s major economic crisis a few years ago, by spending big and paying later. Because of the amount of ´interest free credit´ all of the prices are massively inflated, I needed a new shaver and the cheapest most basic model was still above 50pounds. Madness.
Amazingly we didn´t have any steak here, a tragedy, but we promised to make up for it later...