The other bits in the middle

On the Road

So we rented a people carrier and hit the road for a three week 400km oddessy to the Andes and back….

Our second home for 3 weeks
Our second home for 3 weeks

We planned to cover the trip to the Andes with two overnight stops on the way and then take a longer run back stopping in three places, with the whole run taking 3 weeks.

One of many moments it felt like we were in a road movie
One of many moments it felt like we were in a road movie

Lujan

It’s worth mentioning a quick stop off we did to see Our Lady of Lujan a major religious site on the road to Mendoza a couple of hours outside BA.

Rufino

Rufino is like somewhere out of a slasher movie. In the middle of the Pampa it’s a traditional agricultural town surrounded by nothing.  The hotel we stayed at added to the movie feel, this time a touch of Bates Motel complete with a lift that looked strangely older than the rest of the hotel.

Doesn’t sound too promising I know, BUT next to the hotel was a social club for something or other with a restaurant open to the public, where after a long day at the wheel the food tasted heavenly and the bill made me smile. For me it was of those nights when everything seems better than it probably is, being in the middle of nowhere eating unexpectedly good food and wine in  a place you would never have imagined ending up.

San Luis

San Luis was a slightly longer stop, we got into town when it was still daylight, so we made a day of it. After checking into the hotel we were Hank (Marvin’  = starvin’) and in case you didn’t know, EVERYWHERE in Argentina serves lunch between 12 and 2, after that you’re on your own. When we rocked up at a place  the first thing was for the waiter to get over the shock of us looking for food at 3pm. But once he’d done that, he went into the kitchen and came out 20 minutes later with shed loads of empanadas, chips, chicken, salad and beer, we were saved! I’ve probably said it before but just about wherever we went in Argentina people went the extra mile to be accommodating especially outside the big cities.

A roadside lunch stop arriving in San Luis
A late roadside lunch stop arriving in San Luis notice the ubiquitous Quilmes
David did a lot of swing pushing
David did a lot of swing pushing

After lunch we had time visit a lake that’s popular with the locals for the kids to stretch their legs. We also had time to take in our surroundings a bit, San Luis is pretty dry, but has a lovely Mediterranean type warm light that made the sun going down a pleasant site.

The boys love a bit of rock rolling
The boys love a bit of rock rolling
After a bit of rock rolling
After a bit of rock rolling

Trapiche San Luis

Trapiche qualified for a stop more because it was half way between Uspallata and our next major stop in Cordoba. It was not particularly on the tourist trail, except I guess for some locals who went camping in the area, or like us rented a cheap and cheerful cabin.

The view in San Juan
The view in San Juan

There were a couple of memorable things to share about our couple of nights here. First, an example of Argentine laid backness and generosity of spirit. We arrived at our cabin which we had booked some weeks before to find that our host wasn’t expecting us. So he tried to get the heating going in a cabin and to give us the best welcome he could, before giving up and saying that to be honest there were some better cabins 10 minutes away that he’d be happy to take us to.

Up anothe rtree
Up another tree

So off we went and turned up for two nights in some rival cabins that were in fact nicer. The other memorable part was that this was the only place we stayed at the entire holiday that was so cold none of us got out of bed until midday. That includes kids and dads who are used to the cold. It was bloody freezing.

The lake 5 minutes wlak from the cabins
The lake 5 minutes walk from the cabins

We never wandered far from the cabins, the lake in the picture was a 5 minute walk away and the cabin grounds were big and had plenty of space for us to explore, play army and cook up a parillada.

After a good game of army in the cabin grounds
After a good game of army in the cabin grounds

So soon it was back in the car and on to Cordoba province, yet another type of scenery and weather what a country this is!

Our base was around 40 minutes from Villa General Belgrano in an area known as Valle de Calamuchita in a comfortable house with enough room for all of us.

Strike a pose outside the cabania
Strike a pose outside the cabania

I’m not sure if I was expecting Klaus Barbie to be hiding behind a rock by Villa General Belgrano was less Nazi war criminal and more Disyneyland meets the Munich beer festival.

San Belgrano was indeed very German
San Belgrano was indeed very German

For Laste and Domenica it was interesting as a pseudo European experience complete with beer halls, more types of sausage than you can shake a sausage at, blond haired, (and a bit grumpy) locals and twee souvenir shops, this place had everything!

So we ate, drank big glasses of beer and bought pointless crap. Us and half of Argentina I reckon. It was busy (not Paris in July busy but busy) and pricey by local standards, (but still reasonable) and OK for a couple of half days.

Closer to the cabins there was a reservoir  that offered free walking, so that’s what we did, as well spot some big birds.

Treasure hunting
Treasure hunting

All this was close to the cabins and was OK for some easy access cheap fun, but by week 3 of our expedition into the hinterland we were starting to run out of gas and trips further afield were getting harder to do.

A fine figure
A fine figure
There's nothing like viaduct fun
There’s nothing like viaduct fun
There's nothing like viaduct fun, the winner!
The winner!
A family walk
A family walk

One trip we did manage a couple of times was La Cumbrecita once we went as a family for some advenure park fun and once me and David went for a mountain hike. I’ve put photos of both below.

A long way down
A long way down

To be honest if I was in this neck of the woods again I would stay here rather than were we did, it was cuter, pedestrianized, was scenically more interesting and had more stuff for the kids.

High in the air
High in the air

The adventure park was loads of fun, if a little pricey, the kids went on an age appropriate adventure and the big kids did some zip wire shenanigans.

Suited and Booted
Suited and Booted

As well as the adventure stuff there were plenty of places to eat and drink, the whole town is given over to tourism, nearly all of which is Argentine, so after risking life and limb you can have some hearty fare and a glass of red.

Daredevil Danny
Daredevil Danny
A little trepidation
A little trepidation
I would have gone but someone had to take the photo
I would have gone but someone had to take the photo

Me and David went for a long walk on our second trip to La Cumbrecita and just look at the name of the range, this alone was worth the hike.

You can see why I wanted to visit.
You can see why I wanted to visit.

The path is easily marked and we perhaps took about 3 hours t do the round trip. There were a few others on the trail but it wasn’t what you would call busy.

Ain't no mountain
Ain’t no mountain

The view from the top was cool and was seeing yet more condors. And although it was a cold day walking up a mountain soon warms you up and come to think knackers you out.

El Condor Pasa, in this case two in Cerro Wank
El Condor Pasa again! in this case two in Cerro Wank

Rosario

Getting the BBQ ready
Getting the BBQ ready
I lost count of how many BBQs we had
I lost count of how many BBQs we had
Masterchefs
Masterchefs
Leave me alone I wanna eat!
Leave me alone I wanna eat!
We had a lovely cabin in Rosario
We had a lovely cabin in Rosario
A rare moment of washing up
A rare moment of washing up
The playground in the cabanias, hard to believe this was a coupke fo days after being in the snow.
The playground in the cabanias, hard to believe this was a couple of days after being in the snow.
Enjoying some peace
Enjoying some peace
Tour Argentina
Tour de Argentina
Sunset in the Pampa
Sunset in the Pampa

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