Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.
Purmamarca to Salta
Where do we get on the bus? The locals seemed to be confused when we asked them and kept pointing us in opposite directions. As a result we walked around in a complete circle (lucky the village is tiny) until we found what looked like a bus terminal being renovated or constructed on the side of the main access road to town.
Here we bought tickets for the bus to Jujuy 33.50 pesos ($2.60), then a bus from Jujuy to Salta 75 pesos ($5.80). This took us longer than expected and we didn’t arrive in Salta until about 3pm, about 5 hours after leaving Purmamarca.
Where to stay
At the bus station a friendly guy (Christian) came up to us and told us about his hostel, Backpacker Suites. It was only 70 pesos ($5.20) per person including breakfast in a 6 bed dorm with private bathroom. The bonus was that it included a free taxi to the hostel which saved a 25 minute walk. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised. The hostel was very modern and new. It had a really cool vibe with extremely friendly staff who could even speak English. The room was great because it was a large room split into two rooms of three beds each and a private bathroom. There is also a great hang out area near the bar. We definitely recommend this hostel if you’re in the area.
Festival – Fiesta del Milagro
To our surprise there was a festival in town on the day we arrived celebrating a 100km pilgrimage that only happens once a year. A bit of a google came up with the fact that this had been going on for 9 days and was celebrating the Virgin of the Miracle and dates back to the 16th Century.
To us this means festival food. There were crazy amounts of people in town so we decided to follow the people to see what the festival was all about. The crowds led us to a parade showcasing the people who had walked the 100km. Some were wearing matching outfits displaying their profession such as nurses, while others were carrying religious statues. On loud speakers there was also someone preaching so it felt more like a mass sermon rather than a parade.
After watching the parade and becoming more confused than ever due to our language barrier we decided to go explore the park for festival food.
This may have been a mistake as we couldn’t stop eating the whole day. My stomach still turns at the thought of all the food we ate and the need of fat pants from over indulging in the amazing street food. We were so full we had to sit down for an hour to let the food sit and had trouble walking without burping up some of the Argentinian delights.
Below is a list of some of the festival delights and our top picks;
Pizzetas: Oven fresh hand made mini pizza with olives, tomatoes. It was so fresh cheese melted in our mouths with every bite.
Alfajores: Pastry with layers of cream caramel (Dulce de Leche) covered in icing sugar. Very messy and after one bite we were covered in white frosting and sticky fingers but worth the sticky taste sensation.
Dulce de Leche (Cream caramel) pastry cone. This was our favourite pastry of the lot as the cone was just big enough to hold a decent amount of dulce de leche without it being a complete mess.
Empanadas con carne (Meat empanadas): Soft, fresh hand made pastry filled with spiced meat, potatoes and vegetables. Similar to a meat pie or pastie. With each bite there was a different taste sensation so we renamed it to heaven in a bite. If you order empanadas make sure they are fresh because if they aren’t then you aren’t getting the real thing. We received 12 empanadas for 40 pesos ($3) at the market closest to the lake in the park (not far from the bus station). We loved them so much we went back and ordered 12 more. This was a mistake as we found out the hard way that our limit is 8 per person and if we eat more than this we will be sick.
We have left the best for last
Helado dulce de leche con brownies (Cream caramel ice cream with brownies). 15 pesos ($1) for two scoops.
The ice cream in Argentina is fantastic. Rodora isn’t a sweet tooth but even she can’t help herself and now craves an ice cream a day. Our favourite Argentina brand is Grido which we know is good as it’s also a favourite of the locals and there are always lines. Warning though, once you have one scoop you won’t be able to stop.
Sightseeing around Salta
We decided to save the sightseeing for the next day due to the ridiculous amounts of people during the festival and no chance of taking any photos without being photo bombed. The main tourist sites are on the square with beautiful historical buildings and a colonial cathedral.
Another place worth seeing is the park. This is a great hang out spot to people watch as the locals come here to feed the ducks or enjoy the paddle boats.
Salta to Cafayate
Having ticked off the main tourist boxes in Salta it was time to leave. Unfortunately we didn’t think of pre booking because of the festival and were unpleasantly surprised to find out that all the buses were booked out until 7.30 pm (it was 1pm). We booked this bus to Cafayate (104 pesos / $8 ea) and had a long wait (no time like the present for admin and blog duties).
In summary Salta is a great one day stop off if you’re heading from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to break up your journey with a beautiful park and historical plaza. However the highlight for us was the festival food.
Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/
*Note that all our Argentinian values are converted at the Dolar Blue rate of around 14 pesos is equal to US$1. The official rate is much closer to 8 pesos is equal to US$1 at the time of writing (Sept 2014)