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

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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

AUSTIN SOUTH CONGRESS - 23
AUSTIN SOUTH CONGRESS - 23
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A walk along a hip strip of Austin

(Austin) — Austin keeps going and going. And growing and growing. I know all my local friends bemoan the influx of new people, Californication and other bad elements, but really, there is so much cool stuff going on here, it puts most of the rest of the country to shame. […]

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722714391203
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A HOTEL WITH A LIVING WALL

(Paris) — In a great location amidst all the glitz of the 8th, Pershing Hall stands out. A beautiful old building, it has been jazzed up with a hip new interior, including one of Paris’ first “living walls”….a vertical garden that dominates the lobby, brings cool fresh air and serves […]

Hotel Pitrizza
Hotel Pitrizza
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A DISCREET HIDEAWAY, TUCKED AMIDST THE ROCKS

(Costa Smeralda, Sardinia) — You won’t hear much about the Hotel Pitrizza, but a few people have. As part of a trio of Luxury Collection hotels scattered around the tip of Costa Smeralda development, it might be the most exclusive.  With just a handful of rooms, extremely understated architecture and […]

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GAUDI 2
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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. […]

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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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BRITISH MUSEUM 3
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GO SEE THE BRITISH MUSEUM. (NO FURTHER EXPLANATION NECESSARY)

       

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FERNANDO DE NORONHA 104
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A volcano poking out of the ocean

(Fernando de Naronha, Brazil) — Here’s a great article in Conde Nast Traveler that does a better job than me describing the magic realism of Fernando de Noronha.        

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BW-2
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Patagonia…On top of the world at the bottom of the world

[TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE] — Going here has been one of my lifelong goals, well, at least for the last 15 years. Finally got a chance to go, paired with a visit to the Atacama Desert in the northern half of Chile — the driest place on the planet (and posts […]

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CAREYES
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AN ECCENTRIC HILLTOP VILLA IN JALISCO

(Costa Careyes, Mexico) — High above a nearly deserted coastline, Costa Careyes is a remarkable compound of a couple dozen villas (each with their own architectural theme), casitas and small hotel. Owned by a one-eyed Italian count and designed by an Italian architect, this place looks like a bizarre movie […]

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COPENHAGEN CENTRUM 11
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A walk around Copenhagen Centrum

(Copenhagen) –  

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AUSTIN HOTEL SAN JOSE - 24
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Still cool after all these years

(Austin) — It’s been many years since I was in Austin and decided to hit back the Hotel San Jose, one of the first DIY boutique hotels in the country, carved out of an old motel. It helped revitalize the whole South Congress hip strip of Austin into one of the […]

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Madrid Parque del Retiro - 27
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MADRID’S CENTRAL PARK

(Madrid) — Take time out of eating, drinking and shopping to take a long stroll or do some eating or drinking in Madrid’s Parque del Retiro.  Beautifully laid out, with different sections that beckon you to keep going on to the next site, there’s lots to see, summer or winter. […]

Ruta 40
Ruta 40
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DRIVING DOWN THE SPINE OF 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 […]

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RANDOM PARIS 6
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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.

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An amazing terrace and a surprising price

(Positano) — Stayed here years ago, it was like 80 bucks a night, very mom & pop B&B and more like a private guest house. Spartan but super clean. Low services. 186 steep steps up from the beach or down from the road, so have little luggage, although they’ll send a porter. One of […]

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Blue water, fine beach, incredible restaurant

(Porto Vecchio, Corsica) — Just above the lower tip of Corsica is an excellent, romantic hotel — the Grand Hotel Cala Rossa.  Quiet beaches, swanky atmosphere, nice staff.  And because it’s a Relais & Chateaux, you know they have an incredible restaurant.  Last visited: June 2000

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FAENA HOTEL 10
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WHEN A PLACE HAS “HOTEL+UNIVERSE” IN ITS NAME, YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO GO THERE

(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 […]

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POSADA DEL FARO 038
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IN THE PERFECT LITTLE BEACH TOWN, THE PERFECT LITTLE HOTEL

(Jose Ignacio, Uruguay) — Posada del Faro is one of my go-to places. I’ve been four times now and each time it is like coming back home. It’s a small place and one of the few hotels in Jose Ignacio. Just a handful of rooms, it books up early and […]