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

Parque Ibirapuera 1
Parque Ibirapuera 1
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A BREATH OF FRESH AIR…IN A CITY OF 20 MILLION

(Sao Paulo) — Sao Paulo is big. But when you want a break from the concrete, take a taxi to the Parque Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo’s Central Park. Walk among the walkers, with great stops at lakes and mini forests and make sure you duck into the Oscar Niemeyer designed music pavilion.

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WINTER BEACHES 10
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CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH IN BARCELONA

Barcelona beaches  

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

   

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IMG_1454
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POSTCARDS FROM NEW YORK

 

Il Pellicano - 087
Il Pellicano - 087
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A dining destination on the quiet Maremma coast.

(Porto Ercole, Italy) — Il Pellicano is a famous destination resort on the western Tuscan coast of Maremma. It has a legend and a following, attracting the Portofino crowd (which is not really my style, but the place is still cool.) Being a Relais & Chateaux hotel, the hotel is […]

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 […]

etthemmtub
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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STOCKHOLM 23
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AN ENTIRE MUSEUM BUILT AROUND ONE BIG SHIP

  (Stockholm) — One of the neatest museums in the world is Stockholm’s Vasa Museum. The entire museum is built around a single wooden sailing warship called the Vasa. Built during Sweden’s years as a world naval power in the 1600s, the Vasa, having just had its christening, slid out […]

COLLEGE HOTEL 1
COLLEGE HOTEL 1
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A GORGEOUS HOTEL, RUN BY STUDENTS

(Amsterdam) — The College Hotel is a working hotel run by the local college school of hotels. It is a gorgeous hotel, with great rooms and a remarkable physical plant. A little off the beaten bath, but still easily accessible to the rest of central Amsterdam. Service can be a […]

Madrid Dec 12 - 68
Madrid Dec 12 - 68
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CHRISTMAS IN MADRID

        Click on the pictures to see more.    

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PORTO MADERO 3
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POSTCARDS OF BUENOS AIRES

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

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LOUISIANA MUSEUM OF MODERN ART 10
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A MUSEUM OUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

(Outside Copenhagen) — When I read about the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, I himmed-and-hawked about making the treck out to the countryside. But boy oh boy am I glad I did. You take a quick train and then walk a few blocks, but the setting is what makes this […]

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EL BORN 7
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A CHILL NEIGHBORHOOD IN BARCELONA

(Barcelona) — El Born is a cool, quiet neighborhood away from the crazy crowds. Perfect for walking around, cool shops, mellow restaurants and beautiful streets.  There’s a great little square with four or five outdoor cafes, perfect to just sit and watch Barcelona go by.  Go here. Here’s a good […]

Atacama Desert - Salar de Atacama - 20
Atacama Desert - Salar de Atacama - 20
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IN THE DRIEST REGION OF THE WORLD…AN OASIS OF WATER…AND FLAMINGOS

[SALAR DE ATACAMA, CHILE]  – Only miles from the driest valley on the planet is the Salar de Atacama, the great salt flats of the Atacama Desert, a salty oasis in the middle a great pan of caked soil…and a calm resting place for flitting, sipping and slurping Andean flamingos.  At […]

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CIRCUS 010
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Just when you’re having fun, along comes a circus

(Barcelona) — Not much more to report here, just a nice surprise I ran into while walking along the waterfront over Christmas time.  I don’t think Spielberg’s set designers could have come up with a more perfect looking Old School circus.

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Park Guell 21
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LOOK OUT ALL OVER BARCELONA. AND MORE GAUDI.

(Barcelona) — I debated and debated: “Do I really want to go all the way out there?”  Boy, am I glad I did.  Park Guell is a park set in the high hills on the edge of Barcelona.  It’s a little bit of a hoof, but well worth it when […]

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RED LIGHT 5
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THE SUBTLER SIDE OF THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT

 

Birch Coffee 076
Birch Coffee 076
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Great cups of coffee in New York