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

WINTER BEACHES 10
WINTER BEACHES 10
close

CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH IN BARCELONA

Barcelona beaches  

MADISON SQUARE PARK ORLY GENGER - 30
MADISON SQUARE PARK ORLY GENGER - 30
close

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 […]

I think this is my favorite beach. It doesn't seem real, with this looming beautiful piece of the inner earth, thrusting out over perfect, flawless sand.  And a delightful beach bar. And nobody else.
I think this is my favorite beach. It doesn't seem real, with this looming beautiful piece of the inner earth, thrusting out over perfect, flawless sand.  And a delightful beach bar. And nobody else.
close

The paradise nobody really knows about

(Fernando de Naronha, Brazil) — My sign of a perfect vacation?  Not seeing another American for the whole trip.  Fernando de Noronha is one of those places.  About 200 miles off the Pernambuco coast of Brazil, there’s a small group of volcanic islands rising 13,000ft off the ocean floor that’s […]

Santiago Republicano - 6
Santiago Republicano - 6
close

You should eat here in Santiago

[SANTIAGO, CHILE] — I only spent two nights in Santiago, so didn’t have a chance to eat around much, but here are places that I liked and would recommend. In Bario Lastarria, which is where I’d just go an walk around, there are lots of cool places to duck into. […]

CROSBY STREET 1 (1)
CROSBY STREET 1 (1)
close

ENGLISH POSH IN A NEW YORK CITY WAY

(New York) — I’d long read about Firmdale Hotels, but never had a chance to experience what it was all about — each time I tried to book something in London, their hotels were always sold out. Which said something. But after seeing the pics of their first US outpost, […]

LX FACTORY - 09
LX FACTORY - 09
close

A HIP DESIGN DISTRICT ON THE SPRAWLING GROUNDS OF AN OLD LISBON FACTORY COMPLEX

[LISBON] — In a tucked away corner of Lisboa, in the no-man’s land between the core of Lisboa and Belem, is the bustling new design and arts district, the cornerstone of which is the LX Factory.  Set on movie-set looking ground of an old manufacturing district, the LX Factory is […]

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 […]

GAUDI 2
GAUDI 2
close

GAUDI GAUDI GAUDI

(Barcelona) — If you’re going to Barcelona, you’re going to see a lot of Gaudi.  After all those schoolbooks and tests, never really got him. Walking around Barcelona with my head up for a week, I do now. These are some shots of two favorite houses along Passeig de Gracia. […]

MARISMO
MARISMO
close

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, […]

LISBON  - 165
LISBON  - 165
close

A BUSTLING NEIGHBORHOOD ON TOP OF IT ALL

  [LISBON] — Barrio Alto is it.  The perfect neighborhood to stay, to shop, to eat, to walk. Shop along Principe Real with all the cool local shops. Look over the city at one of the best parks. At night, all the pedestrian streets turn over to outdoor cafes, bars […]

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.
close

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 […]

Il Pellicano - 087
Il Pellicano - 087
close

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 […]

Parque Ibirapuera 1
Parque Ibirapuera 1
close

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.

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 […]

DSC01953
DSC01953
close

THIS IS THE COOLEST RESORT IN THE UNITED STATES. PERIOD. HARDSTOP.

[CANYON POINT, ARIZONA] — About 30 minutes outside of Page, Arizona — home of the Lake Powell dam — is the second Aman Resorts property in the United States.  Based in Asia, Aman is the best of the best hotel chains on the planet and they’ve been rapidly expanding to […]

TIVOLI 5
TIVOLI 5
close

A RUNDOWN OF HOTELS IN COPENHAGEN

(Copenhagen) — I’ve only been to Copenhagen a couple of times, so only have limited experience with hotels. But here’s what I found, some I’d recommend, others not. Have you seen the Hotel Nimb? I’ve never stayed there, but I walked through it. Cafe Nimb is very fancy. There’s a […]

SONY DSC
SONY DSC
close

A TEMPLE TO WINE

(London) — A picture says a thousand words. Here are several pictures.  If you love wine, go here. Vinopolis  An incredibly well-designed Ode To Wine, tucked into the barrel vaults of a bridge, or whatever it is, in Bankside.…

Bologna - 005
Bologna - 005
close

A city of reds, ochres, porticos and pork.

(Bologna, Italy) — Bologna was about 237th on my list of places I wanted to visit, but when a Rome school buddy of mine suggested we meet there to eat, I jumped at the chance. Man oh man what a gorgeous city. Almost every block is covered with some sort […]