We spent just over a week and a half in Sucre, Bolivia, learning Spanish with a great teacher. Having spent part of her childhood in the US she could speak fluent English which was ideal when our monosyllabic Hispanic grunts didn't quite make sense - or worse, made sense but was not what we were trying to say.
We left Sucre for the salt flats. Having been on the salt flats previously, Dan wanted Cara to experience the unique landscapes offered by Southern Bolivia but unfortunately, in line with our current run of luck there was a freak snowstorm which closed down access to the salt flats. As such we booked our direct tickets from Bolivia to Argentina. This delightful experience entailed a long and rickety journey along poor roads, fending off a drunken Bolivian who refused to sit in his seat and spending four hours at the crack of dawn in a ticket office at the freezing border.
Nethetherless we made it to Argentina in one piece and stopped at Salta, northeastern Argentina for a few nights. Meat and wine have defined our experience of Argentina thus far and Salta was our first introduction to these delights and whether it was a quiet drink in the plaza, a meal out in the evening or a barbecue at a rural ranch after horse riding, we were assailed by both. Delicious! Cara is also particularly fond of the cerveza negra (black beer/stout) here which must be good to divert attention from the plentiful vino.
We spent two nights in Cafayate, a rural retreat famous for its Torrontes white wine. Hiring bikes for the day we started our day trekking to a waterfall and realising the true extent of our relative lack of fitness, and then consoled ourselves with a tour of selected vineyards in the area, with increased confidence in our biking and spanglish abilities noticeable throughout the day.
The plan was to catch a 25 hour train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires, but with no functioning website, a disinclination to pick up the phone and rail offices closed, it was no great surprise that in the end we had to settle for a bus. Surprisingly it was much cheaper to share a two bed sleeper cabin on a train than to take the bus, but regardless of this the bus journey (an overnight one) went relatively quickly and we arrived in Buenos Aires to the...
Sheraton 5* hotel. This wasn't worked into the budget but was a result of a kind offer from Mark, Cara's brother, to trade his solo hotel room for one with two doubles in. Mark was working in Buenos Aires for two weeks. Our time at the Sheraton was defined by morning swims (on the 22nd floor), buffet breakfasts (MORE than just bread and jam and including REAL COFFEE) and a great location for the suburbs. It would be fair to say that a number of the staff were suspicious of us when we entered the hotel with dusty backpacks, but overall, a great experience and one very welcome after Bolivia!
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city. It's lively, animated and full of great food and the different neighbourhoods are as unique and diverse as London and other great cities. We ate more meat, drank more wine, and visited museums, plazas and mausoleums galore. The latter is a reference to the magnificently sprawling Recoletta cemetery, where the rich and the famous of BA society are buried, including Evita and Nobel prize winners. Each one is unique, and some are huge. Whilst some contain a single grave, others house whole generations of families and include their own lifts, altars and life-sized sculptors of the inhabitants!