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

San Telmo - 30

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

Sucre - 10

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

Algodon Mansion - 24

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

PUMAMARCO 8

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

LABOCA 1

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

PATAGONIASUR 2

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

HUMAHUACO GORGE 3

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

SONY DSC

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

PATIOS DE CAFAYETE 1

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

SALTA RUTA 68 21

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

  \   View Larger Map  

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

RUTA332 1

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

HOUSE OF JASMINES 3

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

PORTO MADERO 3

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

SAN TELMO 11

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

FAENA HOTEL 10

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

IMG_5383
IMG_5383
close

Movie Star Treatment Above Sunset Boulevard

  (West Hollywood) — On a quick business trip to Los Angeles, booked a cool hotel I’d always read about and featured often in Vanity Fair: the Sunset Tower hotel. Always loved this building for years, but have never stayed here. Luckily, I booked it on my favorite go-to hotel […]

Park Guell 21
Park Guell 21
close

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 […]

Carmelo - 14
Carmelo - 14
close

STAY ON A CLASSIC VINEYARD IN URUGUAY’S WINE COUNTRY

[CARMELO, URUGUAY] — Along the cool banks of the muddy Rio de la Plata is the wine region of Carmelo, Uruguay’s top wine region. All the best Uruguayan vintners are here, including Finca Narbona. Restored to turn of the century newness, Narbona Wine Lodge is like a museum of the past, […]

DSC00540
DSC00540
close

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 […]

RANDOM PARIS 6
RANDOM PARIS 6
close

A WALK AROUND PARIS

Here’s a great great blog I subscribe to called HiP Paris blog. And there’s a great post on The Best Places To People Watch in Paris. Check it out.

When you see movies set along the Amalfi, you will almost always see a shot from Le Sirenuse.
When you see movies set along the Amalfi, you will almost always see a shot from Le Sirenuse.
close

About as good as it gets.

(Positano) — The best hotel in Positano….if not in Europe.  It is absolutely perfect in every way. Definitely splurge on a room facing the ocean. Constantly in the top five hotels in Europe. Extra expensive, but you will remember it forever. Amazing service. The perfect position up the hill. Easy to walk […]

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.
close

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 […]

Nordic Light hotel
Nordic Light hotel
close

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 […]

Madrid Temple de Dedron - 25
Madrid Temple de Dedron - 25
close

AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE OVERLOOKING MADRID

(Madrid) — Perched high on a hill in Parque del Oeste is a true Egyptian temple given to Spain as the Aswan High Damn was about to swallow it up. Now it sits in a perfect park overlooking the hills of Madrid and the Royal Palace. Go at night when it […]

PATIOS DE CAFAYETE 1
PATIOS DE CAFAYETE 1
close

A villa in the vineyards of Cafayete

(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. […]

Novecento - 3
Novecento - 3
close

A spacious, quiet hotel in the heart of Bologna

(Bologna) — There are some awesome hotels in cool Bologna, but as you’ll read elsewhere, tons of people have great things to say about all the hotels in the Art Hotels group.  My sister Janet recommended the Hotel Novecento and I always listen to my sister. I wasn’t disappointed. I […]

161
161
close

Nothing but you, the sun, and the fishermen

(Praino) — Two villages down from Positano is a small little hillside village called Praino. Clinging between the cliff and the roadway, it is like a suburb of Positano — once removed, quiet and friendly. And zero tourists. What few hotels there are cheaper. It’s a great place to stay away from the […]

TUILLERIES AT NIGHT 1
TUILLERIES AT NIGHT 1
close

NOBODY AROUND BUT YOU AND THE LIGHTS

(Paris) — You can go in the day and watch all the walkers, kids and dogs. But I like to sneak into the Jardin des Tuileries at night and walk wide-eyed and watch the silhouettes that change every 50 meters and bring statues to life. Hardly anybody else around but […]

011
011
close

A perfectly preserved colonial town

(Paraty, Brazil) — Paraty tourism website    

LOUISIANA MUSEUM OF MODERN ART 10
LOUISIANA MUSEUM OF MODERN ART 10
close

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 […]

TRANCOSO SQUARE 13
TRANCOSO SQUARE 13
close

A BOHEMIAN JETSET VILLAGE IN BAHIA

(Trancoso, Brazil) — I’d read about Trancoso for some time, it just kept popping up in the right places. But when I was in a small Uruguayan hotel and met a photographer from Wallpaper and he said it was one of the coolest places he’d been, I knew I had […]

IMG_4186
IMG_4186
close

An awesome place for sunset cocktails

(Lake Travis, Austin) — Seriously, almost every night, perfect sunsets. This is one money-maker, a ginormous restaurant on a hilltop overlooking the leaky Lake Travis outside Austin. The Oasis. Drinks are cold, lots of room, the drinks are better than the food. But well worth the jaw-dropping sunsets and the […]

LAPA PALACE LISBOA - 10
LAPA PALACE LISBOA - 10
close

A SWANKY OLD SCHOOL OASIS HIGH ABOVE LISBON

[LISBON] — Coming back through Lisbon on the flipflop back to the airport, got to spend a night at the Lapa Palace, a fancy Old School hotel in the Lapa District, the Embassy quarter high above Lisbon. Best part about the hotel is the expansive grounds and pool stepped below […]