IT’S LIKE BEING IN YOUR OWN DREAM SEQUENCE Salinas Grandes | Salta, Argentina

(Jujuy, Argentina) — Play the voiceover from the Voice of God dude in movie trailers: “In a world where…” and you’ll get a feeling what it’s like to make the trip to Salinas Grandes, a well-worth-it side detour from traveling up the Humahuaca Gorge in Jujuy province.

Taking a steep and windy left from the main road, you go up and over the switchbacks, often through the clouds, into a high arid plain, with the Salinas Grandes (salt flats) looming as a mirage at the distance. You see it and you keep driving. It seems close, but it is far away. Cranking great Salteno music on the stereo and chomping on cocoa leaves, it is like descending into the dream sequence of your own personal movie. There are no special effects, because it is real. Or unreal, once you get down to the shimmering reflections of the salt flats off the main road. The clouds. The shallow water. The unbelievable silence. The intense sun that fries you in minutes.

My trusty and encyclopedic guide, Augustin, parked his powerful Ford F250 off the side of the road with the doors open and music adding to the perfectly surreal effect as we enjoyed a fine lunch-ona-rock with wine, cheese and cured meat sandwiches. Even spending just moments there, you will remember the hallucinatory views for the rest of your life. When friends see these pics, they go “Ooooooh, where’s that?”

Driving up and over from the Humahuacha Gorge, you cross even more stunning geology changes as you come over the hump.

 

I’m not one for personal guides, but I did hook up with the incredible Augustin, a former gaucho with encyclopedic knowledge of every nook and cranny of the region. The history, the music, the geology, the physics and where to load up on mate and cocoa leaves. I would recommend him in a heartbeat and can’t wait to explore new areas with him.

 

Like a mirage, for dozens of kilometers you see the shimmering Salinas Grandes in the distance, but it keeps looming. And you go and you go until you get close and realize how vast the entire area is. The air is so clear and thin, distances are hard to judge.

 

 

Looks like the movie poster for “Man Facing Southeast”. Everything is surreal.

 

Here’s an overly long video that brings to life the geography of Salta:

YOU SHOULD Go HereApril 22, 2012

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MORE COLORS OF ROCK THAN YOU’VE EVER SEEN Purmamarca and the Camino de los Colorado | Salta, Argentina

(Purmamarca, Argentina) — Right on the Salta/Jujuy provincial borders are two must see stops: the dusty Andean town of Purmamarca and just around the corner, the incredible Camino de los Colorado, a two mile amusement ride of colors that wrap around behind Purmamarca. Stop in for a lunch in town, dominated […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereJune 3, 2012

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A SMALL POCKET OF COLOR Walking La Boca | Buenos Aires

(Buenos Aires) — La Boca, you’ll read all about it, see pictures of it in your Spanish textbook, but it’s kinda cool. I hear it is a little dicey at night, I was only there during the day. A little too touristy for me, but worth a stop.  

YOU SHOULD Go HereMay 11, 2012

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COOKING WITH FIRE IN BUENOS AIRES Francis Mallmann's Patagonia Sur | Buenos Aires

(Buenos Aires) — Continuing my pursuit of visiting all the restaurants of my favorite chef, Francis Mallmann, after an all-night flight, I had a five hour layover at the Buenos Aires airport.  I planned to take a car into the city to have lunch at his famous restaurant Patagonia Sur in […]

YOU SHOULD Eat HereMay 10, 2012

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A CANYON LIKE A PALM READER FOR THE EARTH Humahuaca Gorge | Salta, Argentina

(Salta, Argentina) — On a northern spur of highway, just north of Salta city lies the stratified painter’s palette of the Humahuaca Gorge, one of several UNESCO World Heritage sites in the jaw dropping valleys and deserts of Salta province.   The gorge starts on the northern edge of Salta […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereMay 3, 2011

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A VINEYARD ON TOP OF THE WORLD Estancia Colome | Molinos, Argentina

(Molinos, Salta, Argentina) — Estancia Colome is a place I had read a few things about, mostly its magical high-altitude vineyard and its remote, very remote location. But what really attracted me to make the long journey was that it also is home to the only museum dedicated to one […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereMarch 22, 2011

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A villa in the vineyards Patios de Cafayate | Cafayate, Argentina

(Cafayate, Argentina) — This is really a pretty place. The Patios de Cafayete — almost the most perfect Spanish style villa and grounds you can imagine.  The reviews are sometimes mixed, but  I loved it.  Maybe while pretty, it might be lacking a soul with some of the people working there. […]

YOU SHOULD Eat HereMarch 13, 2011

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IF RED IS YOUR COLOR, THIS IS YOUR DRIVE Ruta 68 from Cafayete to Salta | Salta, Argentina

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YOU SHOULD Go HereMarch 12, 2011

Ruta 40

DRIVING DOWN THE SPINE OF ARGENTINA RUTA 40 | SALTA, ARGENTINA

  (Salta, Argentina) — In the northwest province of Salta, you run into the famed Ruta 40 which runs 5K kilometers of Argentina, from tip to tail. At this section its more like a dirt road than the highway it is named. I picked it up near the dusty Andean […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereMarch 11, 2011

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See the entire geological history of the world in a four hour drive Driving Ruta 33 from Salta to Cachi | Salta, Argentina

  (Salta, Argentina)  You probably haven’t heard much about Salta, in the far northwest quadrant of Argentina, but the word is starting to spread. While everyone knows of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Patagonia, it seems like Salta has just opened up. You take a two hour flight from Buenos Aires […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereMarch 7, 2011

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STAY ON YOUR OWN ESTANCIA House of Jasmines | Salta, Argentina

(Salta, Argentina) — A few miles outside of Salta is a perfect hotel and spa in the country. A luxurious estancia-turned-hotel (and the actor Robert Duval’s former place) it’s the perfect base to explore Salta province, easy to connect to the highways into the mountains, yet being away from the […]

YOU SHOULD Eat HereMarch 3, 2011

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POSTCARDS OF BUENOS AIRES Buenos Aires

Here’s a great BA guide from Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and NYTimes.    

YOU SHOULD Go HereJune 24, 2009

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A SUNDAY AT THE MARKET San Telmo | Buenos Aires

(San Telmo, Buenos Aires)  Go to see the San Telmo market on Sundays. The whole neighborhood is taken over for market-goers, a lively scene, and cool stuff all over the place. Here are some suggestions from Travel & Leisure.    

YOU SHOULD Do ThisJune 24, 2007

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WHEN A PLACE HAS “HOTEL+UNIVERSE” IN ITS NAME, YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO GO THERE Faena Hotel & Universe | Buenos Aires

(Buenos Aires) — When I first went to Buenos Aires in 2005, the Puerto Madero waterfront redevelopment has only been completed for a short time. When I first saw pictures of the soaring lobby of the Faena Hotel & Universe in a travel magazine, I just knew I had to […]

YOU SHOULD Stay HereDecember 3, 2005

YOU SHOULD

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PATAGONIASUR 2
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COOKING WITH FIRE IN BUENOS AIRES

(Buenos Aires) — Continuing my pursuit of visiting all the restaurants of my favorite chef, Francis Mallmann, after an all-night flight, I had a five hour layover at the Buenos Aires airport.  I planned to take a car into the city to have lunch at his famous restaurant Patagonia Sur in […]

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etthemmtub
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Oh well hell, would you look at this beautiful place??

(Stockholm) — I’ve never stayed here, but just read an article about it in my favorite magazine Monocle, check it out here.  Ett Hem in Stockholm’s cool Sodermalm neighborhood. OMG the detail and materials of this place just makes me want to get on a plane and go there. (My hotel […]

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ESTRELA DAGUA 32
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400 Thread Count, steps from the beach

(Trancoso, Brazil) — This really is a great hotel, but also one of the most expensive. You can get a bungalow by the beach (but not really on the beach) or they have nice rooms set farther back in the property. (check out the aerial view below).  For about half […]

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POSTCARDS FROM NEW YORK

 

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A HOTEL WITH A LIVING WALL

(Paris) — In a great location amidst all the glitz of the 8th, Pershing Hall stands out. A beautiful old building, it has been jazzed up with a hip new interior, including one of Paris’ first “living walls”….a vertical garden that dominates the lobby, brings cool fresh air and serves […]

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NoMad 46
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Paris, north of Madison Square Park

(New York) — Just north of the vibrant Madison Square Park, the NoMad area is really taking off. Starting with the resurgence of MSP, 11 Madison and Danny Meyer’s faithful vision, then jump started by Eataly and the hopping Ace Hotel, the whole area feels like it about to explode. […]

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Orvieto church interior
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A church (and a town) on a hill

(Orvieto, Italy) — About an hour’s drive north of Roma is the mountain top village of Orvieto. It’s a great mid-day stop if you’re on your way form Rome to Florence or Tuscany. Really cool church, with really modern-looking stripey theme going on. Excellent stop for lunch in the quiet […]

The is the famous postcard tree you see everywhere. It's better in person.
The is the famous postcard tree you see everywhere. It's better in person.
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Overlooking everything

A few thousand feet up the mountains and the sea is the town of Ravello. Often voted one of the prettiest villages in Italy, it shows it. They’ve done a great job at preserving this little mountaintop town. No modern stores or chains. Just a quant little piazza, with hotels […]

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HOTEL BARRIO ALTO - 09
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A perfect hotel in the heart of Lisbon’s Barrio Alto

    [LISBON, PORTUGAL) — The Hotel Barrio Alto is one of the most perfect hotels I’ve stayed in. A small hotel right of the main Praca Luis de Carnões square near Chiado, it’s the ideal location to explore all the shops, restaurants and sites of winding streets of Barrio Alto. […]

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FERNANDO DE NORONHA 62
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WHERE TO EAT IN PARADISE

(Fernando de Naronha, Brazil) — As a still developing tourist destination..and only 450 tourists allowed on the island a day… the restaurant scene on Fernando de Naronha still has some ways to go.  But there are some incredible standouts I tried. And am still thinking about. About the most dramatic […]

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Atacama Desert Devil's Canyon - 047
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A VISIT TO THE DRIEST PLACE ON EARTH….WITH NICE SHEETS

[ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE] – I am seriously months (and many countries) behind on posts; damn work keeps getting in the way. So forgive me, dear reader, as I try to catch up….. The Atacama Desert. Good lord. I’ve read about it, saw films about it, including this remarkable one, and was […]

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RANDOM BARCELONA 3
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December in Barcelona

     

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A perfectly preserved colonial town

(Paraty, Brazil) – Paraty tourism website    

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NOTRE DAME 8
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MISS THE CROWDS AND HANG AT NOTRE DAME AT NIGHT

   

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Cool stuff to see amidst the hills and neighborhoods of Lisboa

[LISBON]  – Portugal was never really high up on my list, but over the last couple of years, the more and more I read about it, the more it moved up.  Conde Nast Traveler, Monocle, Travel & Leisure, AFAR, they all pointed to the rise of Portugal.  Despite its government […]

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WINTER BEACHES 10
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CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH IN BARCELONA

Barcelona beaches  

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STOCKHOLM 1
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A WALK THROUGH GAMLA STAN

(Stockholm) — In the heart of Stockholm is the city’s Old Town or Gamla Stan.  Sweden’s “Venice of the North” is all built on a series of islands and Gamla Stan is right smack in the middle of them. No cars are allowed, so you can calmly walk it’s twisted, […]

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MARISMO
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A RESTAURANT LIT ONLY BY THE STARS, FIRE AND CANDLES

(Jose Ignacio, Uruguay) Marismo is  one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to in the world. In the middle of nowhere, tucked under beachy pine trees, no sign, you have to know where to go. You drive along a road you that you think you’re on the wrong one, […]