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

Orvieto church interior
Orvieto church interior
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A church (and a town) on a hill

(Orvieto, Italy) — About an hour’s drive north of Roma is the mountain top village of Orvieto. It’s a great mid-day stop if you’re on your way form Rome to Florence or Tuscany. Really cool church, with really modern-looking stripey theme going on. Excellent stop for lunch in the 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.

HOUSE OF JASMINES 3
HOUSE OF JASMINES 3
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STAY ON YOUR OWN ESTANCIA

(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 […]

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IMG_7205
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If I could build my own castle, it would look like this.

[SINTRA, PORTUGAL] – Sintra is not just a single town, but an entire wooded (unusually so in these arid parts) nature preserve about an hour and a half outside of Lisbon. Definitely well worth the drive and easy to find — the roads and signs in Portugal are outstanding.  Plan […]

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posisea1
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Mountains rolling into the sea

  Positano — Every street, every room, every window…there’s a view. The whole Amalfi Coast is a string of towns south of Naples, roughly starting from Sorrento on down.  Each has it’s own charm and personality. Not a big fan of Sorrento, more of a modern city that cruise ships […]

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CANAL ST MARTIN 1
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GET SOME AIR AND SOME ELBOW ROOM WITH A WALK ALONG THE CANAL

(Paris) — One of Paris’ booming neighborhoods is the Canal Saint-Martin. You can’t miss it on the map, it’s the big gash right over there on the right. Go for a mid-day stroll, up and down the foot bridges. I was there in November, but I hear it’s jammed with […]

Proof that simple can be good. Damn good.
Proof that simple can be good. Damn good.
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The only restaurant in Praiano. Who needs another?

(Praino) —  A teeny little restaurant right on the water underneath the Onde Verde, we avoided it at first…just some bamboo and plastic chairs clinging to the rocks right on the water. It was one of the best meals all of us every had. While we were eating, a fisherman pulled his boat right […]

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Airbus A380 Tail Cam
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THE BEST NEW AIRPLANE INVENTION SINCE OXYGEN

Got a chance to take my first ride on the new double-decker Airbus A380 on a Lufthansa flight from JFK to Frankfurt. One of the cool things I’d never read about is the new Tail Cam video you can watch from your seats, looks like a video game. You can […]

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Cabo horseback riding - 3
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GO FOR A HORSEBACK RIDE

  (Cabo San Lucas) — Always on the tourist shots, riding horses on the beach is one of the sexiest things one can imagine. And it’s easy to do.  Lots of freelance horse companies on the beach, but we did a couple of rides through the Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center, […]

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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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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 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 […]

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A WALK THROUGH THE WEST VILLAGE

(New York) — Probably wouldn’t have moved to New York if I hadn’t discovered this magical gem. I never could live in Midtown with all the tall buildings and concrete. Here it’s small buildings, tree-lined streets. I pop out of the subway and look down my street at sunset and see the glistening […]

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POSTCARDS FROM NEW YORK

 

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

   

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EL GORDO 2
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YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN TRANCOSO

(Trancoso, Brazil) — What makes Trancoso special is not just the beauty of the beaches, the nice hotels and people, but also the great food. The whole town is built around the Quadrado, a long square in the center of town with a National Geographic-perfect colonial church at the end. […]

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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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ST REGIS 2
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THE PERFECT OLD SCHOOL BRASSERIE

(Paris) — Right on the north tip of Ile Saint-Louis are four restaurants all together. And to me, the Cafe St Regis is about as perfect of an incarnation of a classic brasseries. Subway tile, cool lights, snoof waiters, beer and big windows to watch Paris go by.  This is […]