Sunday, 15 March 2009


I was lucky enough to spend last week away from Buenos Aires again, and my latest adventure proved to be my favourite trip so far. Cecilia and I went off to explore Córdoba, which isn't too far from us by Argentina standards (only 8 hours). We left at about 11pm on Saturday night, slept on the bus, and woke up at our destination. That's what I call an easy trip :-)

Córdoba was perhaps my favourite part of Spain, so I was curious to see what I'd make of the Córdoba in Argentina. I'd been told three things about the place: the accent was difficult to understand, the girls were the most beautiful in the whole of Argentina, and the Sierra was about as beautiful as the girls. It didn't take long for me to confirm the first of these points, as we checked in to the hostel we were staying at and the guy at reception started trying to explain something to me in a roundabout way, regarding a potential confusion of the booking. Sure enough, we were given a room with three beds in it. Things were looking hilarious. Thankfully, Cecilia took over and we got our point across. There had indeed been confusion with the booking, on a couple of levels: firstly, we weren't after a room with three beds, funnily enough, or even a room with two beds. And, secondly, the site I'd used to book had charged double the price. I had thought it was a bit steep... Anyway, everything got sorted by the time we'd had breakfast: we were promised a double room at a bargain price. Joy! The hostel was beautiful, as it goes. It was more like a hotel than a hostel. If you ever go to Córdoba, be sure to check out Le Grand Hostel. Anyway, enough talk about the hostel... Here's a picture of the church next to the hostel instead:

Pretty on the outside, dull on the inside

We kicked things off with by visiting a couple of art museums. The first, Museo Caraffa, had a massive photography exhibition going on. It was the usual mix of photos that were actually interesting and photos that were completely mundane, the latter being accompanied by the standard bullshitty blurb about their artistic merit. As proof of the fact that I wasn't alone during my visit, I took very few notes about what I saw (if I go to an exhibition by myself, I generally spend hours staring at stuff, but if I'm with someone else then I often feel a bit rushed). I did jot down one name, though: Tomy Ceballos. His photo 'Piel de mujer' had me wondering what technique he'd used to get the effect. Unfortunately, the accompanying blurb didn't go into much detail. Whatever, the museum building itself was rather nice. And, as promised, the girls who worked there were rather attractive (and remarkably charming and friendly, too). I don't have any pictures of the girls that worked there, but I too have a picture of the polar bear that was outside the museum:

Museo Caraffa, from the side

After a bit of lunch, we went to the Museo Superior de Bellas Artes to see a collection of art from across the ages. From the pre-modern era, there were a couple of nice paintings of animals, but other than that the work was standardly dull. However, the modern and contemporary pieces were a joy. It was a strange building; part posh palace, and part modern nightmare, complete with cowskin material covering the walls and banisters leading to the upper galleries. There was a very nice tearoom, which wasn't in operation, unfortunately. I sat there and stared at the big piece on the wall, regardless.


And after that, we checked in to our new room, got washed, and went for a Fernet and Coke. Córdoba is famous for Fernet, so I just had to drink it while I was there. I'd only tried it once before, on Christmas day. I won't explain what it is: you can read all about it on Wikipedia if you want to know more. All I'll say is: the best description I've heard of it is that it's a bit like drinking Coke after brushing your teeth. Regardless, it's quite tasty. I drank it every night we were in Córdoba. The generosity of the servings varies from bar to bar. One night I was given very little, and another night I was given so much that I was a bit tipsy...

On the first night we were in town, I had a strange dream involving an ex-captain of my school. Funnily enough, the next day we visited a school. It was very nice indeed: one of the many gifts left by the Jesuits. I know very little about the Jesuits, but Cecilia tried her best to educate me, and after seeing some of the good things they did for the development of the country I feel obliged to learn a bit more about them. Anyway, we saw the Jesuit school, then the non-Jesuit and not-so-pretty Faculty of Law that was opposite. A couple of students had just graduated, so they were getting covered in eggs, flower and vinegar, and being stripped. It's a tradition over here...

Law Graduate gets messy

Afterwards, we visited a pretty little Jesuit house quickly, then stopped off at the museum of the National Bank where I was fascinated by the early machines they had for counting money, and the handwritten ledger that they relied upon in the pre-spreadsheet era. It was far prettier than any spreadsheet I've ever seen, but it must have taken a lot more time and effort to maintain.


One of the things that stood out for me in Córdoba was how vegetarian-friendly it seemed to be compared to Buenos Aires. We had lunch at one of three vegetarian restaurants that I know about in the town. It was a self-service, pay by the weight affair. We got some beans in us. In fact, we went to another self-service (they're called tenedor libre over here) place for dinner, too, after spending the afternoon wandering around the big but not hugely attractive park. I got to play on the swings in the park, anyway, so I was happy.

And that was Córdoba: like I say, it's very pretty, but nowhere near as big as Buenos Aires (perhaps that's why it's so pretty). Allegedly, outside of the part that we saw, the city is a bit ugly, so we didn't venture there. Instead, on our third day in town, we got on a bus to nearby Alta Gracia...

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