Author Archives: Gio&Bert

Be the wolf in Cuesta Blanca…

Let yourselves go and get rid of all travel guides.  Don’t follow the herd, shave that wool and be a wolf.  Look for the sensation of doing something different, get your bag packed and jump on the bus and ask a ‘boleto’ for Cuesta Blanca, a town located in the department of Punilla in the province of Córdoba.   A 50km ride from Córdoba capital following the ‘Camimo de las Altas Cumbres’ takes us to this small community parted in half by the San Antonio River.

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It’s this stream that makes this place so special by providing smaller natural pools with crystalline water and clean glittering pink sand beaches both perfect for relaxing the mind and body as these waters cure,… some local told us.

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Cuesta Blanca has the privilege to find itself enclosed in a mountain forest with its many autochthonous trees, grasses and native vines with beautiful shapes and colourful leaves and flowers.  The native fauna gives us 180 varieties of wild birds, iguanas, rainbow trout, weasel, fox, otter and many others.  The wonderful hike along the riverside, from our empty camping site to one of the further beaches, Playa de los Hippies, is a reason on itself to visit this beautiful place.

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After some days you will be revitalized and might be ready for a whole lot more of traveling but maybe never again able to let the wool overgrow the wolf inside you! ;-)

 

Our recommendations:

– Take a good book and enjoy the out of this world feeling

– Binoculars are a must as many smaller beautifull coloured birds fly by and are dificult to see with bare eyes

Eco-camping is situated a bit further from the center just next to the river, offers bbq,  shared showers, has a small shop to buy drinks and delights their visitors with nightly frog and bird chants.

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Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Córdoba a fizzy urban lifestyle

21/29-03-2014

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).

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(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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Recommendations:

  • 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
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  • 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!
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  • 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.
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  • 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.

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Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Embalse de Calamuchita, on the way to Córdoba

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Travellers warned us that, if going more eastwards, hitchhiking will get more difficult.  So we try from Mendoza to Córdoba and get as far as San Luis.  A rather dark city where “hotels” charge you by the hour, taking for grant the fact that people here are looking for some kincky sex with one of the many prostitutes we have seen along the highway.  But as Giorgia doesn’t have me on her pay check, that’s not our case so we decide to spend the night on the ground in the bus terminal together with some other travellers.

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Next day we make a big step towards Córdoba, in the car of a nice couple, and call it the day as we reach Embalse de Calamuchita, a small town at the side of the lake.  Long recognized as one of Córdoba Province’s main holiday destinations, and where the urban tribe have holiday homes, the shamrock green Calamuchita Valley originates under Córdoba city at the town of Alta Gracia –see future posts- and goes for over 100km, between the rising and falling Sierra Chica to the east and the vertical Sierra de Comechingones to the west.  The wide-ranging foliage that covers the valley flanks makes available a impeccable environment for hundreds of species of birds and other fauna.

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Two large and uncontaminated reservoirs, Embalse Los Molinos in the north and Embalse Rio Tercero in the south, both dammed in the first half of the twentieth century for water provisions, energy and recreational fishing, contributes to the valley alternative name: Valle Azul de los Grandes Lagos meaning ‘Blue Valley of the Big Lakes’.  The two, after a long ride, are friendly enough to bring us till a nice camping ground just at the shore of the lake and our tent… at 2meter from the water.

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This stunning place almost secreted in surroundings of incredible natural beauty is rising on our appreciation-scale as we walk the path that follows the contours of the lake.  Vegetables, wine and half a chicken get paid at the local shop to prepare an ‘asadero’.  This is how good it can get: daydreaming with a glass of wine at the shore of what seems to be our lake… our secret place in the world, starring at the vast water surface that sparkles like a thousand diamonds under the afternoon sun.  Later on the day, with the wood red glowing awaiting some food to roast, the last wind breeze departs the valley leaving behind an absolutely flat surface.  The spectacle begins just after we filled the grill with our grocery shopping.  A stunning sunset reflects on the mirror that the lake has become.   Colours are fading into others as seconds tick away and the sun falls down.  The chicken gets turned as the sun hits the horizon at the other side of the lake.  The blue tints orange and orange turns into red a red sky while pink turns into light brown and light brown into crunchy dark brown on our grill.  By the time the sun hides her very upper bit, the violet and red sky fills with the unmistakable aroma of dinnertime.  We eat, we drink, we laugh, we love and we sleep… because tomorrow we have a long day towards Córdoba.

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Embalse is quite and honest, does not pretend to be what it isn’t and therefore becomes one of our better memories of a whole year of traveling.

Recommendations:

  • Don’t get fooled by this quite settlement… with about 8000 hotel beds, tourism is the principal economic activity of this  city (at the time of Argentinian holidays). But out of the hysteric-summer-mass-tourism-season, the camping ground gets quite, costs 50 Pesos Argentino each and has the basics (toilet, showers, electricity,…) still running.
  • Multiple encounters for various nautical competitions as well as rally, MTB, athletics, etc places Embalse as one of the most sportive spots of Córdoba. In 2012 officially named ‘Capital of Nautical Sports of Córdoba’
  • One of the yearly events with the highest convocation of the whole province is held from the 18th till 22nd of September. About 100.000 persons (mostly aged between 15 and 30) come for an unforgettable 5 days of national and international recognized musicians with their bands.  Four massive tents are transformed into mega-disco and host more than 30DJ’s equally well-known. For more info about activities click here.
  • On the way to Córdoba Capital, we manage to hitch-hike till 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 and its particular architecture style amaze 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!!! Villa General Belgrano also holds two more national festivals: The Alpine Chocolate Festival (July) and the Fiesta Nacional De La Masa Vienesa (April).
Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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