Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tucumán in winter

July 15, 2009

We arrived in Tucumán bleary-eyed, and stored our luggage before finding breakfast on the main plaza. Dos medialunas, un café, and a good look at the map and we were ready to go.

It was icy cold as we made our way across the plaza to the Cathedral, and continued on to the tourist office. A benefit of visiting the tourist office—at worst, they offer nothing, at best they have a great inside scoop. Our trip saved us wandering all over town and facing disappointment after disappointment, as they alerted us right away that only two of the city’s sites were open. The rest were closed due to the flu. Damn!

We were able to visit the Casa Historica, the Mercado del Norte—a meat market if there ever was one—and some interesting neoclassical buildings such as the casino, where Tammy had the great idea that we should each play a peso in the slots…a peso which was quickly lost, so we used the fancy bathrooms to ensure we got our money’s worth from the experience.

We lunched at Café 25, touristy, but with Mexican dishes (fajitas, quesadillas, and burritos), which reeled me in. But when I asked about doing a vegetarian version, the waiter got a little uncomfortable. “You see, the meat is like the protagonist. Without it, you really just have a plate of onions.” Hmmm. I opted for butternut squash canapés, which were delicious anyway. The restaurant’s on-tap beer system was out, so the waiter ran across the street several times to refill our mugs from a neighboring café, which was much appreciated.

After a belly-full of beer, we set out to find the only other open museum, la Casa del Obispo Columbres in the Parque del 9 de Julio. It was a very cute estate with compassionate staff (I asked about the bathroom, and after hesitating greatly, they admitted they did have a bathroom; however it hadn’t been visited by the cleaning staff in so long they no longer used it themselves).

Satisfied we’d seen the most we could of Tucumán, we returned to the bus station and headed for Tafí del Valle.

Although Tucumán had warmed up during the day, in the sunshine, Tafí was again miserably cold. We checked into our hostel, and I braved a shower (hostel showers are always an adventure!), before heading out in search of dinner.

One of the more affordable options boasted an on-site artisanal brewery, so of course we settled there with some typical pasta dishes. Exhausted from the day and frozen by the cold, we returned to the hostel and spent the rest of the night under several layers of blankets.

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