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

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 […]

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

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Park Guell 21
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THERE ARE MARKETS, THEN THERE IS BOROUGH MARKET

[London) — A perfect cloudy afternoon thing to do in London is to go walk among the stalls of Borough Market.  Tucked under a viaduct and carved out of various nooks and crannies, the Borough is just a great place to while away a morning, then head out to see […]

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GULLI CAISCAIS - 3BIG
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Where to eat in Cascais

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IMG_4186
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An awesome place for sunset cocktails

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MISS THE CROWDS AND HANG AT NOTRE DAME AT NIGHT

   

To get to Tiscali, you take a several hour hike up a valley, then a ridge, then find a hidden crevasse takes you into the hidden ancient settlement. It is like Lost Horizon
To get to Tiscali, you take a several hour hike up a valley, then a ridge, then find a hidden crevasse takes you into the hidden ancient settlement. It is like Lost Horizon
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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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Madrid Temple de Dedron - 25
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Saturnia - 28
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A hot springs in the middle of Tuscany

(Saturnia, Italy) — Just a few miles from Pitigliana is a cool like sulfur hot springs called Saturnia.  Just a cool little natural stop among all the cool undiscovered hill towns of Maremma.  It’s not much more than a slit in the earth on the side of the road, but […]

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EVERY DAY A NEW ADVENTURE

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IN THE PERFECT LITTLE BEACH TOWN, THE PERFECT LITTLE HOTEL

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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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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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HOTEL DE VILLE 7
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EVERY CITY HAS ONE

(Paris) — I remember during my first backpacking trips in France in college and every town we’d pull up to had a glorious building right in the middle of town. My buddies and I would remark: “Man, that Hotel de Ville chain has some really fancy hotels…and they’re all over!” […]

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HIGH LINE 8
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(New York) — A masterwork of modern design and urban planning, the High Line is an old railroad trestle that used to deliver railcars loaded with stuff down the west side of Manhattan towards all the manufacturing plants downtown.  Long abandoned as factories moved out and people moved in, the […]