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

ROMA MAY 06 - 168
ROMA MAY 06 - 168
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THE MOST PERFECT BUILDING IN THE WORLD

(Rome) — The Pantheon, one of the great wonders of the world and certainly my favorite of all time. Every time I come back to Rome, the first thing I have to do is to go and see and touch this magical place. Built by my friend Emperor Augustus and […]

Relais Christine
Relais Christine
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A ROOMY ROOM IN PARIS, RIGHT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE

(Paris) — Most Paris hotel rooms are teeny, most noisy. But my buddy Rex turned me onto Relais Christine. On the Left Bank, but not in it, it is on a quiet street just blocks south of the Seine, the perfect central location to explore the city. Rue Christine extremely quiet, […]

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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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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 […]

TRANCOSO BEACHES 7
TRANCOSO BEACHES 7
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MILES AND MILES OF PRISTINE BEACHES IN BAHIA

(Trancoso, Brazil) — Bahia is where it’s at. Miles and miles of the most amazing beaches you’ve ever seen. Not clogged with people, just pristine sand, amazingly green water and lots and lots of perfect strolling. Trancoso is in the center of it all. You should go here. I’m not […]

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MARISMO
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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, […]

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STOCKHOLM 1
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A WALK THROUGH GAMLA STAN

(Stockholm) — In the heart of Stockholm is the city’s Old Town or Gamla Stan.  Sweden’s “Venice of the North” is all built on a series of islands and Gamla Stan is right smack in the middle of them. No cars are allowed, so you can calmly walk it’s twisted, […]

PARIS restaurant Trastevere
PARIS restaurant Trastevere
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A great restaurant find in Trastevere

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RANDOM BARCELONA 3
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December in Barcelona

     

VILLA ITALIA CAISCAIS - 26
VILLA ITALIA CAISCAIS - 26
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A classic hotel in a quiet seaside Portugal town

    [CASCAIS, PORTUGAL] — Another great hotel in Cascais, is the Villa Italia, just outside of the town, and right along the rock coast.  Within walking distance, it is a perfect location to serve as your base of operations for exploration all along the Lisbon coast.  For some reason […]

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DSC01953
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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 […]

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IMG_7229
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A luxury resort set amid the towering pines of Carmelo, Uruguay

[CARMELO, URUGUAY] — I’m not a huge Four Seasons fan for international trips — I prefer more unique hotels that reflect the character of each locale — but in a pinch for a room at the last minute in Carmelo, I booked a couple of nights at the Four Seasons […]

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ALPS 4
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SCOOTING ALONG THE EDGE OF THE ALPS

(25,000 ft) — Not a big story here, just a nice ride along the edge of the Swiss and French Alps on the way to BCN. On a crystal-clear morning, it felt like you could just reach out and touch ‘em.  

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Ptigliano - 29
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The perfect Tuscan hill town, carved out of tufa.

(Pitigliano, Maremma) — One of the great medieval hill towns of Maremma in western Tuscany is the quiet little town of Pitigliano.  Not overly crowded, no cars in the city center, it’s a great town to stop in for a walk ’round and have a nice long lunch. Here’s a […]

TIVOLI 5
TIVOLI 5
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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 […]

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 […]

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SEINE AT NIGHT 8
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NOTHING BETTER THAN A NIGHT WALK ALONG THE SEINE

(Paris) — It’s a river, so nothing ever gets old. The scenery floats by. And the light changes by the hour. Instead of taking a nap, start around dusk, when the grey Paris skies turn pink and the lights come up. Get down on the water, it’s almost your very own […]

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