Getting a free ride seems to be less evident by every kilometer we get closer to the departments capital but our patience pays off as we manage to hitch-hike towards Córdoba Capital as far as a town named: Villa General Belgrano. It’s a Tirol-ish resort with for the most part Germanic residents. Therefore, its traditional festivals, its art, folklore, its particular architecture style and in general its vibe, amaze us and the rest of the visitors. Here October is a substitute for noble and abundant beer. Thousands of people participate on a pilgrimage to this place each year to take part in one of the supreme longed-for happening in Villa General Belgrano: the National Beer Festival!!! The Argentine take on Munich’s Oktoberfest. To warm-up the crowd, Villa General Belgrano holds two more national festivals: The Alpine Chocolate Festival (July) and the Fiesta Nacional De La Masa Vienesa (April).
(Photos from internet)
It’s a beautiful bus ride along silver eye blinding sun reflecting lakes, green valley slopes and small peace inspiring watercourses from ‘little Germany’ to Córdoba. Both: being Argentina’s second largest city and the reputation of a culture sparkling youth and student metropolis caught our attention and made it inevitable a stop on our journey. But finally it is the invitation of the joyful couple of travellers we met at Bocas Del Toro (Panama) some months ago that makes us enthusiastic to go. The nights we spend together with them having the time of our lives and the days we use to give our laugh-muscles a break while visiting the city. The first day downtown we find the Manzana Jesuítica (Jesuit quarters), declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Society of Jesus and its missionaries played a crucial part in the capitals foundation, establishing it at a strategic point along the Camino Real (“Royal Way”), the Spanish route from Alto Perú to the Crown’s emerging Atlantic trading posts on the Río de la Plata. This Jesuit Quarters are a beautiful preserved area to stroll around without clear directions, just losing ourselves and finding ourselves by equal parts to get surprised by every turn we make in yet another street with historical buildings. While we are there, we take a moment to visit the cathedral and have a drink in the cantina of the oldest university in Argentina (but with the fastest internet so far in Argentina).
As the sun starts to hide himself, Còrdoba welcomes us with a surprising show of dancing musical fountains, a kind of more rudimental and smaller reproduction of Bellagio show of water in Las Vegas, colourful and funny. The night suddenly livens up and music starts to come from every corner.
The cabildo, which is the city hall, is the next day program and together with the churches of the Compañía de Jesús, San Francisco and San Roque, we end another day amazed about the architectural beauty this streets puff out. Hopping nightlife is what our friends show us in the youthful Nueva Córdoba neighbourhood. The next day we have a day of relax at Cuesta Blanca (see next post) and the fourth day we have a daytime excursion to Alta Gracia which lays at a bus ride of 35 km from Córdoba city and where the visitor can find the extremely well kept Estancia Jesuita which is another World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the “Che” Guevara House and Museum.
Córdoba keeps on surprising us… we get to know that Charlotte (one of the girls that upgraded our incredible experience of Macchu Pichu with her presence and visited later on Mendoza with us) is in one of the hostels in town. We visit her in the hostel, have a tea and hit the streets to visit the Museo de Bellas Artes Evita Palacio Ferreyra, the big green area of Sarmiento Park, the largest park in town, and the Museo Emilio Carrafa both situated around the rather eccentric Plaza de España which is well worth a closer inspection.
After a long amusing day and with the sky growing darker we go astray in between the billion articles going from antique trumpery to unusual inventive handmade objects at the famed and popular Mercado de Pulgas. We have a drink and a laugh while remembering our great adventures of the past.
Córdoba is a city inviting you to be part of her although it’s just a moment in time, just some days… it’s a city to live and feel, to lounge and to party, to agree or to revolt… she just can’t let you indifferent.
- There are a handful of option for saunter daytrips from Córdoba such as Alta Gracia, Villa General Belgrano or Cuesta Blanca, La Cumbre (a beautiful town due to the rugged mountain landscape, filled with winding roads and big stony English houses). You’ll find also a fistful of active daytrips such as: Cuchi Corral (a hill with a vast natural balcony with views over the Río Pinto valley. One of Argentina’s top spots for paragliding!), Quebrada del Condorito National Park (this v-shaped deep canyon is a protected wildlife area and is great for hiking or condor watching.), Los Gigantes (located 90 km north from Córdoba city in the Sierras de Córdoba, these pure granite formations have steep rock walls and are very popular amongst climbers and rappelers.)
- Cumbia: the first night we spend in Còrdoba our sweet friend, Belèn and Exequiel, take us in a crazy street fiesta with live music, choripan of any kind and, above all, Cumbia: a contemporary Argentine music and dance, an explosion of colours, tribal sounds, energy and passion. Beautiful
- Food: As in most of Argentina, one of the main dishes of this region is “Asado”, beside “Milanesas” and “Escalopes”. The pizzas in squares, pasta, homemade baked patties, and stuffed calzoni are also popular. But choripan is the streetfood locals are proud of! The delicious “Medialunas” or “facturas” known in other regions of the world as croissant. But most of all we enjoyed the criollos… at morning, midday, coffee break and as dinner if there are still some left over!
- Leave your legacy and make a goal in Argentina!!! Close to Sarmiento Park you’ll find a vast sport area where you can rent a football field with a group of people (hostel for example) and play against some locals or you simply can ask to join one of the teams looking for players. The spectacularity of this sport zone is the fact that all of them are rented 24 hours a day!!! People coming and going all the time, teams waiting for a field to come free or having an after-chat at the local caravane-cantine.
- Córdoba is in constant evolution and new projects are flourishing like weeds during spring. Look for an information centre and ask what’s going on… as lots of free random activities, free concerts or jam sessions, free museum entrance on specified days invade the city daily, even a very interesting old home-museum with art expositions for blind people in which all of your senses will be activated and stimulated.