Sunday, 15 March 2009

Villa General Belgrano and La Cumbrecita

We checked out of Le Grand Hostel in Córdoba, and got on the bus to Villa General Belgrano. I'd been looking forward to visiting this place since reading about it in my guidebook: I was promised chocolate and fresh German beer from the microbreweries in the town... It sounded like paradise. Indeed, as the bus rolled into the village, I began to think that it was actually paradise. The town's very clean and very posh, and it really did seem like being in Germany or something. We hadn't got round to looking for a hostel or anything before arriving, so we just followed some signs to a suitable inn. March isn't the peak season for the town (or for anywhere, for that matter), so we were lucky with the accommodation prices. We got ourselves a very nice room in a very nice little place, for not too much money ($145 a night, and this wasn't a hostel). I was a bit gutted that I hadn't packed my swimming shorts, as the place had a pool and everything. As it was, we didn't really have much time for swimming in the end (and I don't think I had the energy, either).

After dumping our stuff, we went straight out in search of some food (to be honest, I was in search of beer more than food). I had a nice honey beer. And some nice potatoes, too. It was siesta time, for me at least. The general story of our holiday was that I was continually falling asleep, while Cecilia did whatever Cecilia does while I'm asleep (to some degree, this seems to involve watching me and laughing at how much I twitch and jump while I'm asleep... Before the holiday, I had little idea that I did such a thing... Also, if I sleep on a bus, I look like a sack of potatoes being jostled about, allegedly).

Anyway, with my batteries recharged, we set off to go on one of the walking circuits available to us. We headed beyond the city limits and made our way up El Cerro de la Virgen. It was quite a nice trek, as it goes, although we both managed to sweat an incredible amount. The walk starts in earnest with a fairly steep set of steps - I counted over 110 of them. We climbed them without stopping, then stopped at the top for water and tic tacs. A bit of a rush. The view was worth it, though. I couldn't quite believe how much fun we were having, or that I'd chosen to spend most of my time in a busy and dirty city instead of just living in the country...

Cerro de la Virgen #6

It's a shame that I didn't actually take any pictures of the town itself... I must've been too busy looking for beer and chocolate. Still there are plenty of photos available, so here's what the town looked like:

We stayed in Villa General Belgrano for three nights and four days, which was slightly longer than planned. I would have liked to stay even longer, I enjoyed it so much. For the second and third days we were in the area, we took the bus to La Cumbrecita, which was even quieter still...

La Cumbrecita was further away than we'd imagined, but the trip was worth it. We only planned to spend a day exploring the area, but it had lots to offer. Our first day was slightly wasted, anyway, thanks to a later-than-expected arrival, and then a hilarious episode of trying to get lunch (i.e. we went somewhere with virtually non-existent service, before eventually just getting up and walking out). We saw a couple of nice places.


However, upon learning that there was a hill in the town called 'Cerro Wank', my juvenile impulses took hold and I demanded that we return the next day to climb this magnificently-named hill. And so we did, leaving on the earlier bus the next day and wasting no time trying to get served in posh restaurants. A mandarin and an alfajor were enough to give us the energy to climb the hill.

As it goes, I think we took an exceptionally long route to the top. My fault: I was leading. But the paths weren't at all clear, and generally bifurcated with no indication of which way to go. The only sure guide for us was a trail of manure left by the horses that lazier people use to climb the hill. Not us. We're hardcore, and in no need of horses. We climbed higher and higher. I didn't find it as difficult as the Cerro de la Virgen that we'd climbed a couple of days earlier, as it wasn't as steep, but I think it was a longer trip. We found the summit eventually.

At the top of Cerro Wank #1

The descent was far quicker than the ascent, even though we took a few wrong turns. We got to the bottom, ate a banana, and cooled our feet in the beautiful yet freezing stream. There was only one place left for us to see: the "big" waterfall (hey, I saw Iguazù falls earlier in the year: this wasn't going to be impressive...). We ate some lunch then got going to see that too.

The big waterfall was a lot further than imagined, and I don't think we were the only ones who were surprised by the location, as we passed some older and less fit people on our way there, and they must've found the whole trek incredibly difficult. It was by no means simple, even for an action man like me. But the fall was fairly nice, I suppose. By the time we got there, I was in desperate need of sleep. Thankfully, the bus home wasn't far away...

Sleepy Pete

Indeed, time seemed to fly in La Cumbrecita: we almost found ourselves rushing to get the bus in the end, after stopping off for some refreshment at a little place where the old lady served us tea and raspberry juice instead of tea and raspberry cake. In hindsight, it was better that she served us juice instead of cake, as we were more in need of liquid at this point than food. Whatever, we were soon on the bus home, which was what I'd been wanting for a while. I sat down, put on my iPod, and shut my eyes. Time to mimic a sack of potatoes again!

- - - - -

On our final day in Villa General Belgrano, we had a lie-in before going on another one of the walking circuits: to Pozo Verde.

Pozo Verde

The walk to the area where the Pozo Verde was located was a lot longer than expected, and far longer than the walk from the park to the Pozo Verde, which was a slight disappointment. It didn't bother us greatly, though, as the place was nice and quiet and we got to sit down and have a relaxing chat. The other attraction of the circuit was another hill. We started the ascent, but decided against continuing, as the midday sun was in full effect and the walk didn't seem to have much shade. So we made our way back to town for some food, beer and sleep before catching the bus back to Buenos Aires. It had been a very enjoyable week...

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