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

YOU SHOULD

Madrid Principe Pio - 17
Madrid Principe Pio - 17
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IT’S LIKE A LIFE-SIZE TOY TRAIN SET

(Madrid) — On the western side of Madrid, just below the royal palace is a typical looking European train station, but inside it’s not.  The Estacion de Principe Pio was remodeled to incorporate all the metro and commuter rail stations, stacked up on top of each other like a toy […]

LE CHRISTINE 4
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. […]

Atacama Desert Devil's Canyon - 047
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 […]

EL GORDO 2
EL GORDO 2
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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN TRANCOSO

(Trancoso, Brazil) — What makes Trancoso special is not just the beauty of the beaches, the nice hotels and people, but also the great food. The whole town is built around the Quadrado, a long square in the center of town with a National Geographic-perfect colonial church at the end. […]

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Hotel de Russie - 13
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Your own private garden in the heart of busy, noisy Roma.

(Rome) — Rome is known for having small, cramped hotel rooms, but the Hotel de Russie doesn’t suffer from that. The gardens alone are worth the expense, although the elegant rooms and excellent spa round it off. It’s a Rocco Forte hotel, so the service is something you can depend on. […]

You have to walk a bunch of steps to get to it, but you're perched right on the edge of the hill.
You have to walk a bunch of steps to get to it, but you're perched right on the edge of the hill.
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Hang right out over the sea.

(Positano) — This is my second favorite place in Positano. It’s a hoof to get down the steps from the main road, but when you’re there, you are just clinging to the side of the cliff. It really doesn’t suck.  Very nice people, exceptional rooms. Can’t go wrong. Expensive.  http://www.miramarepositano.it/english/index.php

Chateau Chèvre d'Or
Chateau Chèvre d'Or
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A CASTLE PERCHED ON A HILL, OVERLOOKING THE COTE D’AZUR

    (Eze, France) — Chateau Chèvre d’Or  

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A perfectly preserved colonial town

(Paraty, Brazil) — Paraty tourism website    

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IMG_5484
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A WALK THROUGH THE WEST VILLAGE

(New York) — Probably wouldn’t have moved to New York if I hadn’t discovered this magical gem. I never could live in Midtown with all the tall buildings and concrete. Here it’s small buildings, tree-lined streets. I pop out of the subway and look down my street at sunset and see the glistening […]

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ST REGIS 2
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THE PERFECT OLD SCHOOL BRASSERIE

(Paris) — Right on the north tip of Ile Saint-Louis are four restaurants all together. And to me, the Cafe St Regis is about as perfect of an incarnation of a classic brasseries. Subway tile, cool lights, snoof waiters, beer and big windows to watch Paris go by.  This is […]

Orvieto church interior
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 […]

ESTRELA DAGUA 32
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 […]

Airbus A380 Tail Cam
Airbus A380 Tail Cam
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THE BEST NEW AIRPLANE INVENTION SINCE OXYGEN

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 […]

Imagine, every night, with a little tight skin from the sun, shower and slip into a nice linen shirt, come out here in your sandals and order a nice prosecco and some risotto. Pinch me.
Imagine, every night, with a little tight skin from the sun, shower and slip into a nice linen shirt, come out here in your sandals and order a nice prosecco and some risotto. Pinch me.
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Does it get any better?

(Ravello) —  Years ago I finally realized what I really like: cliffs, overlooking a distant ocean, preferably with a pool clinging to a steep hillside. From then on, it’s been my search. (You’ll see this as a common theme throughout this site.)  This hotel fits all of those criteria. Small […]

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STOCKHOLM 39
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A COOL GIMMICK FOR A BAR

(Stockholm) — I know, I know, it’s kitschy, but still kinda cool. The Icebar in the Nordic Sea Hotel. A nice place to say “I was there.”  You make reservations, show up, throw on some parkas and get 15-20 minutes in the box.  Not much else to describe.   Last visited: […]

MADISON SQUARE PARK ORLY GENGER - 30
MADISON SQUARE PARK ORLY GENGER - 30
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Always something new at Madison Square Park

(New York) — Each summer there’s a new epic art installation at Madison Square Park that is subtle, but always blows you away.  This year, there’s a new installation by Orly Genger based on thousand and thousands of miles of tied knots of lobster rope, looping around the trees in […]

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buziossunset3_2
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AN UPSCALE FISHING VILLAGE

(Buzios, Brazil) — Frommer’s guide. Buzios Online website. A light Wikipedia page. Travel & Leisure’s Buzios Guide.   View Larger Map

Nordic Light hotel
Nordic Light hotel
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A NORDIC HOTEL THEMED ALL AROUND LIGHT

(Stockholm) — In a land that either doesn’t have much, or has too much of it, the concept of the Nordic Light hotel is to bring light inside, everywhere. From the LED light adjusted hotel rooms, to the cool bar trick of a heat-sensitive bar top, to the changing exterior […]