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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You Should Go Here in Buenos Aires My favorite sights | Buenos Aires

[BUENOS AIRES] — I recently got to go back to Buenos Aires in late February 0f 2013. You can read all the guidebooks about what to do, (and my previous posts) but here are updates on where I think you should go, do and see. So many great neighborhoods and sights…these […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereFebruary 22, 2014

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You Should Eat Here in Buenos Aires My Favorite Restaurants in Buenos Aires

[BUENOS AIRES] — There are lots of amazing restaurants in Buenos Aires. Here are some of my new finds on my last trip in late February of 2014. We were just in and out on this trip, heading to Uruguay, but these are my favorites…the others were just okay. All […]

YOU SHOULD Go HereFebruary 22, 2014

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Like having your own luxury apartment in Buenos Aires Algodon Mansion | Buenos Aires

[BUENOS AIRES] — On a very quiet street in Recoleta lies your own private mansion. The Algodon Mansion. It’s an all-suite hotel that’s more like an upscale private apartment building. Built in 1912 with classic French lines, the inside is all brand new, with clean modern lines and layers and […]

YOU SHOULD Stay HereFebruary 21, 2014

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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 of Cafayete 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 town […]

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 to […]

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

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Airbus A380 Tail Cam
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Got a chance to take my first ride on the new double-decker Airbus A380 on a Lufthansa flight from JFK to Frankfurt. One of the cool things I’d never read about is the new Tail Cam video you can watch from your seats, looks like a video game. You can […]

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CANAL ST MARTIN 1
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GET SOME AIR AND SOME ELBOW ROOM WITH A WALK ALONG THE CANAL

(Paris) — One of Paris’ booming neighborhoods is the Canal Saint-Martin. You can’t miss it on the map, it’s the big gash right over there on the right. Go for a mid-day stroll, up and down the foot bridges. I was there in November, but I hear it’s jammed with […]

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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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PUMAMARCO 8
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MORE COLORS OF ROCK THAN YOU’VE EVER SEEN

(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 […]

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LE CHRISTINE 4
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A GREAT LITTLE CASUAL RESTAURANT ON THE LEFT BANK

(Paris) — My Francophile friend Rex turned me onto this great little hip place on Rue Christine, just blocks south of the Seine. Small, casual, affordable. Cool fork. Cool spoon. And some awesome bottles of wine-smoked sea salt on the tables. Simply named Le Christine. Very nice and patient service. […]

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DYLAN HOTEL 2
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A QUIET, ELEGANT SLEEP ALONG THE CANALS

(Amsterdam) — There are some cool hotels in Amsterdam, but my favorite in the city is The Dylan, a small, elegant gem. Once you step in, it’s like walking inside an anechoic chamber — the quiet overtakes you.  And when you open the door to the dramatic colors and lighting […]

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IMG_2599
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ON THE COAST OF PORTUGAL, ONE OF THE TOP TEN BEACHES IN THE WORLD

[GUINCHO, PORTUGAL] — On the west coast of Portugal, only an hour or so outside of Lisbon and right below the farthest western point of the European continent is Guincho. Rated one of the top ten beaches in the world, it’s a dream.  Strong winds, perfect sand, large waves and […]

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FERNANDO DE NORONHA 62
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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN FERNANDO DE NORONHA

(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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FERNANDO DE NORONHA 1 (1)
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(Fernando de Noronha, Brazil) — I don’t like tours. But definitely you should take the boat tour around the island. Everything looks different from the water. One of the best things to do on the island is to book the boat tour that goes around the northern side of the […]

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WHY STAY IN NOISY NICE WHEN YOU CAN STAY HERE?

(Menton, France) — Nice is nice, but it has grown to be loud, clanging city choked with tourists and pickpockets. Why not relax and go a couple of stops on the local train to the quaint little town of Menton?  My Swedish friends Bror-Erik and Irene turned me onto this […]

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(New York) — It’s been a year or two since my last visit, but thought I’d try The Bowery Hotel again.  Still an awesome place to hang out and catch the scene.  You’re in it. All sorts of fun people watching, seeing some famous people…and wondering who everyone else is. […]

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GULLI CAISCAIS - 3BIG
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[Cascais, Portugal] — There are a number of great restaurants in Cascais. And a lot of bad English-touristy ones. You just need to know how to find them. My favorite was Gulli, highly recommended by everyone, right off the main square. Cool patio, great people watching and really, really good […]

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DSC00540
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MY VOTE FOR THE BEST RESORT IN COLORADO…AND ONE OF THE TOP IN THE COUNTRY

[GATEWAY, COLORADO]  — Okay, where the hell did this place come from?  Gateway Canyons Resort. Out of nowhere this over-the-top resort has popped out of the blue over the last couple of years. Once the private ranch of the founder of the Discovery Channel, he has slowly built this from […]

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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE

            MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL — Just like the Boqueria in Barcelona, the Mercado de San Miguel is the perfect place to go back to several times to load up on the best tapas, wine and beer. You just walk from stall to stall, looking […]

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(Costa Smeralda, Sardinia) — You won’t hear much about the Hotel Pitrizza, but a few people have. As part of a trio of Luxury Collection hotels scattered around the tip of Costa Smeralda development, it might be the most exclusive.  With just a handful of rooms, extremely understated architecture and […]

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    (Eze, France) — Chateau Chèvre d’Or   View Larger Map

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RANDOM BARCELONA 3
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December in Barcelona

     

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Atacama Desert Devil's Canyon - 047
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HIKING THROUGH THE DRIEST PLACE ON EARTH

[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 […]