Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1. A holiday to Argentina

GB's new Tango shoesThere are 10 posts in this blog about my holiday to Argentina with boyfriend number 2. But the posts aren't too taxing, mostly just a photo gallery! The posts are organised as follows:
  1. This posting
  2. Buenos Aires
  3. Wine tasting in Mendoza
  4. Andes near Mendoza
  5. Salta
  6. Andes near Salta
  7. Purmamarca
  8. Andean glaciers
  9. Patagonia
  10. Iguazú falls
Clicking on each photo will bring up a much higher resolution version of the picture. Also note that this blog is configured so that all ten posts load up on the home page, so to see all the photos just make sure that you're on the home page and scroll down. And as well as all these postings, there's also the post in the main blog about Gay tango dancing in Buenos Aires :-).

GB xxx

2. Buenos Aires

A north-west facing view of Plaza de Mayo, the formal centre of Buenos Aires. The building with the dome is the Cathedral Metropolitana. Inside the cathedral is the tomb of General José de San Martin, the revolutionary who helped liberate Argentina from Spanish rule.

The presidential palace, Casa Rosada. I asked our guide about Eva Perón (Evita), and it was from the balcony on the far left of the picture where she would speak to her people.

A south-west facing view in Plaza de Mayo showing the Cabildo, the building right of centre with the white arches.

La Boca, the district where a lot of Italian immigrants settled in the 19th century. These days, street crime is apparently rife outside the tourist trap area where we were taken.

Another photo taken in La Boca.

A statue of Eva Perón (Evita) in the Recoleta district.

3. Wine tasting in Mendoza

Mendoza is the centre of Argentina's wine industry, with around 70% of their total production. Unfortunately we were too busy wine tasting to take too many photos, although I did manage to snap the two pics below :-).

However, even though wine drinking and wine trading are hobbies of mine, with hindsight if I had to choose one of the places that we visited on this holiday to miss, then it would be Mendoza. I thought that the general Mendoza scenery wasn't nearly as pretty as the scenery in other wine producing areas that I've visited (Burgundy, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Barossa, Umbria, Sonoma, Hunter Valley, Napa, Stellenbosch, Valpolicella, ...). So since we get great wine from all the world's major wine regions in the UK, it's really not necessary to visit just for a tasting.

We spent a couple of happy hours at the Zuccardi family winery, where the above picture was taken.

The picture above shows the wine tasting cellar at another Mendoza winery.

4. Andes near Mendoza

The day after we went wine tasting, we took a trip into the Alta Montaña region to the west of Mendoza, driving right up to the Argentinian border control with Chile in the middle of the Andes. The photos below were snapped along the way.

In the top left of the photo above is the 'Puente del Inca', i.e. the Inca bridge, which was naturally formed. Sulphurous springs feeding into the river which runs underneath the bridge give the whole ravine a weird orange colour. The remains of a 1940's spa hotel are also visible in the picture. The picture below shows what happens to various items left in the river water for a few weeks.

5. Salta

One of the things we did in Salta was to take a horseback trek into the Andean foothills:

Trekking on horseback into the Andean foothills near Salta.

Our local guides discussing our route.

View to Salta town in the distance.

Four bulls in the Andean foothills near Salta.

While in Salta, we stayed in a fabulous spa hotel, which is where the photos below were taken:

6. Andes near Salta

Leaving Salta, we drive up to San Antonio de los Cobres in the Andes for a snack lunch, following the route of the 'Train of the Clouds' (currently closed for maintenance). From there, we drive over to the Salinas Grandes, before making our way to the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the town of Purmamarca. The photos below were taken along the way.

The Quebrada del Toro valley.

One of the viaducts used by the 'Train of the Clouds'.

Cardón cacti on the hillside. The Cardón cactus is closely related to the saguaro cactus of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, but the Cardón cactus is not frost-tolerant.

A pretty view of clouds and mountains!

A herd of Guanaco.

The quiet mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres.

Guanaco, vicuña and llamas grazing on the altiplano (puna).

What are you looking at?

The Salinas Grandes (above and below).

View from the highpoint in the mountains between the Salinas Grandes and the Quebrada de Humahuaca.

The Quebrada de Humahuaca (above and below).

7. Purmamarca

Purmamarca is famous for the colours of the rocks in the nearby hills

Lunchtime in downtown Purmamarca

Market stalls in the main square, closed for lunch

8. Andean glaciers

The first seven pictures below are all of the Perito Moreno glacier. The glacier is currently in equilibrium, which means that it is neither shrinking or growing larger. Apparently most of the world's glaciers are shrinking at present, which could be a sign of global warming. Unfortunately my camera battery went dead just as we were putting on crampons for a short trek on the glacier itself!

View of the Perito Moreno glacier from a distance.

Arriving by boat at the Perito Moreno glacier for a short trek on the glacier.

The above photo shows the glacier touching land on the right hand side of the picture. Occasionally this forms a natural dam, which eventually ruptures allowing the water levels to equalise on both sides of the glacier. At present, water is still flowing underneath the glacier.

Close-up view of the Perito Moreno glacier.

The above photo shows a film crew at work near the glacier. Boyfriend number 2 thought that they were shooting a commercial, which was later confirmed when we discovered that the crew were staying in the same hotel as us.

Double-click on the picture above to see the enlarged version. On the enlarged version, two separate groups of tourists are visible trekking on the glacier.

The Perito Moreno glacier, as seen from up on the hillside. This picture was taken by boyfriend number 2, because my camera battery had gone dead!

The last six pictures below were all taken on a boat trip to the Upsala glacier.

The photos above and below show icebergs formed as ice breaks away from the Upsala glacier.

In my opinion, the iceberg in the above photo is a particularly beautiful shade of blue :-).

View of the Upsala glacier from a distance.

Close up view of the Upsala glacier.

Edge of the Upsala glacier on the left, with a recently formed iceberg in the foreground on the right.