Lo Siento Salta

18 April – 21 April, 2018

Not all travel destinations feel the same, some resonating more than others, whether in your home country or abroad. Some destinations will surprise us, with treasures found beyond tripadvisor reviews, while others, even after all our research, will fall short of the mark.

“Lo siento, Salta, ¡no estamos tan interesados ​​en ti!”

Sorry Salta, we’re just not that into you!

Looking back, I’m not sure what we were expecting from Salta, the stop before our final Chilean destination, but it just didn’t do it for us. Perhaps it was because Salta came on the heels of Mendoza, a city that captivated us.

Salta, relatively the same size as Mendoza, has been described as the most visited colonial city by tourists in northwest Argentina. As we sped away from the bus station in our taxi, it looked nothing like the lovely city we had just left, feeling more like a tired, worn sister to Mendoza. Gone were the lovely storefronts and cobbled walks, replaced with crumbling facades, peeling paint, and trash in the gutters. Many streets were blocked off, causing our cabbie some anxiety, which he expressed from his open window, to anyone who would listen. The city was noisy, dirty, crowded, chaotic, and everyone around me seemed to smoke, none of which was a positive start to our visit. Ironically, we had the best hotel stay of our entire trip here and the best view of the city from our 7th-floor room.

Best view of Salta from our hotel window.

And in fairness, we discovered many more attractive neighborhoods once away from the bus station.

Each day we walked the city streets, looking to feel something more, something that would grab us and draw us in. One little gem, food-related of course, was discovered at La Tacita restaurant, where the most delicious empanadas and humitas (think tamales) can be found, along with the most engaging owner, Porfidio. His little family restaurant and tasty creations raised the likeability meter of Salta for us. We also discovered a lovely vegan restaurant, Chirimoya.

Salta is an interesting juxtaposition, with shop owners washing down walls and sidewalks in front of their businesses alongside people tossing wrappers and cigarette butts into the streets and little tikes dropping their britches and peeing into the gutters. No one seemed to bat an eye, except me, whose eyes were a bit bugged-out before our stay ended.

Not all was a loss however, as our lack of interest in exploring more of the city allowed me to play catch-up on processing photos and gave us time to research and book tours for our next stop.

We left Salta via a double-decker bus, this time with front-row seats on the upper level. No more overnight rides (yay), just interesting scenery to entertain us. The landscape slowly changed from lush green to high desert, with saguaro-like cacti dotting the hillsides.

The road seemed to fold in on itself many times as we slowly crept up the mountain, traveling from ~ 4,200 feet up to 13,430 feet (4,170 meters). The effects of altitude greeted many of us as we stepped off the bus at Chilean immigration. We crept further up the mountain before we made our final descent, topping off at 15,820 feet. All I kept thinking was “I’ve got to find me some coca leaves”.

Next Up: Our final destination (and one of our most spellbinding) – San Pedro de Atacama

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33 thoughts on “Lo Siento Salta

  • I’ve so enjoyed tagging along on your South American adventure. I follow a photographer on You Tube who recently visited similar stops (Thomas Heaton). I hear ya on some places resonating more than others!

      • Also Google Simon Baxter You Tube. Both guys are great visionaries and I love their landscape photography. They also share the camera settings, filters, and reasoning behind the composition. Are you happy with the new camera? Your photos turned out amazing!

      • Thanks Ingrid. I will look at Simon’s youtube videos as well. I do like my new camera but still feel like I am on a learning curve.

  • Expectations, timing, what’s before or after, weather, just our own biorhythms – they all seem to have an impact on how we feel about a place! A friend of mine really enjoyed Salta, but I totally get your disconnect! We had a rough time liking Quito recently, soon after other friends had raved about it. Can’t wait to read about San Pedro de Atacama.

    • We had expected to like Salta more than we did. Ironically, we were going to pass on the Atacama as we have lived in a desert environment for 25 years. Since I hadn’t yet seen flamingos up-close in the wild, I told Terry I wanted to go to San Pedro. It was a great decision and one of the most interesting places we saw. More to come. If I haven’t told you yet, I’m so glad I have connected with your blog Lexi.

  • Aren’t those top bus seats fabulous! Are you riding them to San Ped? We didn’t go to Salta. Seems to have been a good choice. Loving following you thru Sth Am as I travel Japan.

    • They are fabulous Alison. We rode them when we were on our way to San Pedro, certainly the best place to sit. I’m also excited to follow your travels through Japan.

    • High altitude does affect me so I was a bit worried about traveling to a part of Chile where I might struggle. Thankfully coca leaves and coca leaf tea did work for me.

  • That has happened to me too. I often wonder if I went to a place I didn’t like as much before I went to a place that I liked if my feelings would be different. Does that make sense? We went to Mykonos then Santorinin and I felt that if we went to Santorini first we would like it better.

    • That makes perfect sense to me. It seems that I can always find a kernel of interest no matter where I travel, and it usually has to do with the local people, if I don’t have a lot of interest in the scenery around me. Does this make sense to you? When we found Porfidio at La Tacita Restaurant, we enjoyed our time in Salta much more.

  • Your captures are amazing! Even tough it may not have been your cup of tea… I enjoyed the photography!
    Your street photography was my favorite along with the street art.

  • It takes a lot of fortitude to do what you two do. I, for one, am proud to know you two, as you never give up. I enjoy all of your travels.

  • Sorry to hear your visit to Salta wasn’t that impressive. Your photos don’t show us what you saw. Thanks for sharing the best parts with us:) I love the photo of you and Terry:) Wow! That is some serious elevation gain. Who knew the bus could drive up to that elevation. That road is crazy for a bus, definitely a Jeep road!! Looking forward to your last adventure! Great header!!

    • Not every destination can be utopia and it wasn’t awful after we left the area around the bus station. It gave me some time to finalize the next leg of our trip, which was a good thing since we enjoyed it so much.

  • Oh I know the feeling as a few “popular” tourist destinations have left us feeling meh and wondering what all the hype is about. As you said, it paled in comparison to Mendoza but I’m wondering if you may have been a bit travel weary as well. Sometimes you need a day or two to kick back, process all that you’ve seen and experienced and just chill. So looking forward to your next post on San Pedro de Atacama! Anita

    • Being a bit travel weary may have had something to do with it as well Anita, as we were so far into our trip. Looking back it was probably good we chilled as we were on the go most of our time in San Pedro.

  • It sounds like Mendoza may have spoiled you for the stay at Salta. I must admit people relieving themselves in the streets doe not exactly create romantic visions.
    I often say the best stories come from the things that don’t go well in travel.

    • I think Mendoza did spoil us for Salta. Given how young Mendoza is, due to a devastating earthquake that required the city to be rebuilt, we should not have been surprised. And yes, those things that don’t go so well do create some of the best stories.

  • I appreciate reading your honest experience of Salta. I know you look for the best everywhere you go, but the truth is that not every place is going to captivate us. It sounds like being in a place that you didn’t fall in love with gave you some time to catch up—I’m always grateful when we have a rainy day, or are in a place that I’m not compelled to explore, because then I can get caught up a bit! Love the photo of you and Terry looking out the window. 🙂

    • For the most part our travels, both in country and outside, have been positive, but just like life, not everything is going to resonate with us. Since we are now back in So. Cal and I am still writing about our trip, it seems an extra rainy day or two would have helped me to get caught up. I think you know how that goes. 😉

  • Haha!!! I need a rainy MONTH! You did a great job of keeping up with your blog during your latest adventure. So fun following along with you!

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