Arriving in Cordoba I quickly noticed and appreciated the city’s emphasis on preserving and promoting arts and culture.
- Cordoba has a central arts related website compiling events, exhibitions, and museum information.
- I received a branded, color, multi-lingual map created by a graphic designer describing the space and exhibits at each museum I visited.
- The museums were housed in renovated, well-maintained buildings and included detailed signage describing each work present in the curated exhibits.
- Museum entrances throughout the city were free on Wednesdays.
- The night I left the city was celebrating a night of theatre where each local theatre performed a show at no charge.
The symbol and color palette for Cordoba’s art opportunities.
The interest from local people, the financial resources, and the government energy required to advance an arts agenda in the ways I listed above and many other ways is large. Prior to this city, I experienced art in Kochi, India during the Biennal but did not find other museums in my travels. Certainly cities like Bangkok, Shanghai and others have an arts presence, it was not as prominent as in Cordoba though.
Visiting a city where art is present was a great change in the types of activities I experience as a tourist. I also appreciated how much the emphasis on the arts in Cordoba and Argentina conveys about the values of the Argentine people.
I traveled on an overnight bus from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. We reached the border crossing in the Andes Mountain around 1:00am. Because of extensive search protocol for people entering Argentina and the large number of travelers, we spent 7 hours waiting. Thankfully, for most of the wait we were on the bus. Argentina has strict duties on electronics. Border patrol agents were looking for new goods that were being brought in without the appropriate paperwork and/or tax payments.
General San Martin park is a large, popular park in the city center. When I visited, families were eating picnics, couples were cuddling, and people were exercising.
Mendoza is a famous city for vineyards and wine production. Acequias, canals in English, line both sides of every street in Mendoza. These canals bring water from the Andes Mountains into the city and provide farmers with a stable water supply for growing grapes and other crops.
The Mendoza vineyards bikes and wine tour is a well-known stop on the backpacker route. With a great group of people from the hostel we bussed 45 minutes outside of the city to the Maipu Valley for our day of drinking and riding. Biking past the vines and seeing miles of green fields and blue skies was beautiful. As always, I enjoy every opportunity to bike.
We biked about 5 miles to reach our first vineyard, Tempus Alba. Here we completed a short self-guided tour followed by drinking wine and eating small snacks. Wine tourism is growing in this city and vineyards are ready every day to welcome groups, appointments are not needed.
After Tempus Alba, we biked about 1 mile to the Trapiche vineyard. Trapiche is the #1 exporter of Argentine wine to the world and their wines are easily available in the U.S.
Bodega Alandes was our last stop for the day. This bodega is different from the first two vineyards. At Alandes, instead of growing their own grapes to produce and bottle their wine, this bodega samples wines from different vineyards. The commonality between the wines available for sale at this bodega is that their production was overseen by the same enologist.
On my second day in Mendoza I joined friends Marlou (The Netherlands) and Amy (London) from my dorm for an excursion to the hot springs outside of the city. We traveled via public bus for more than 1 hour to reach the Termas de Cacheuta. The Termas are a series of pools of varying temperatures where people come to relax, enjoy family time, and bathe.
The Termas are located at the base of the Andes Mountains. I thought the scenery was as exciting as the water pools. This was my second visit to Mendoza. When I was here 9 years ago I did not visit these hot springs. Seeing a new place was especially enjoyable.
After visiting the Termas I stopped back at the hostel, grabbed my bags, and walked in the rain to the Mendoza bus station. I upgraded to a first class seat, a cama seat in Spanish, for the 11 hour overnight bus ride to Cordoba. I was excited to receive a free (with price of ticket) newspaper on my bus chair.
Arriving early in the morning to Cordoba I had the whole day to explore. I started with a visit to the Palacio Ferreyra, a former aristocratic mansion built with French style architecture in 1916 that now functions as an art gallery.
Photos of some of the art displays at the Palacio. I especially liked the bottom quotes that relate to the importance of attitude.
Street scenes from Cordoba include a display on recycling and how long various materials need to decompose in a landfill. Bike lanes were present in many areas of the city.
Entering South America, I departed the world of Buddhism, Hinduism and eastern religion. Now, instead of visiting temples, churches are ever-present. A street scene in Cordoba and a local church.
The central plaza in Cordoba, like many places in South America, has a church and a government building. As a reminder of the thousands of people who died or disappeared during the military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, a white scarf is painted on the plaza ground, representing the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who marched in search of answers about their children. This plaza’s central statue is the General San Martin who was responsible for liberating Argentina. The plaza is named after him.
A museum close to the plaza documents the history of the military dictatorship and tells the stories of people who died or disappeared.
While eating breakfast at my hostel, I met these three women. Valentine (left) from France, Cristina from Spain, and Laurie (right), also from France, were planning to make a day trip from Cordoba to the smaller neighboring town of Alta Gracia. I was planning to do the same journey so we traveled together on the local bus for about 1 hour to reach this mountain town and former holiday destination for the wealthy. Alta Gracia is where the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara lived for most of his childhood.
In Alta Gracia we toured Che’s childhood home which is now a museum. It was amazing to see how much of the world he traveled in an era where moving long distances was more difficult. A few years ago Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who were in the country for an international summit, visited this museum too.
Walking through the neighborhoods in Alta Gracia was an opportunity to see daily life in a smaller, wealthier community. These homes are different from houses I saw in other areas of the country.
The Jesuits had a large presence in Argentina beginning in 1573. One of the Jesuit missions was in Alta Gracia. Together we toured the church and compound.
From Cordoba I traveled 6 hours to the city of Rosario, Argentina. This city is not a common destination for international travelers. It is a city popular for Argentine vacationers and artists. Warehouses along the Parana River once stored grains and other cargo. Now, they have been transformed into studios and artists lofts as a part of the riverfront renaissance.
There are two main roads, one with bars and one with restaurants, in Rosario and a river boardwalk. Together, the 3 streets make a triangle of sorts.
Waling through Rosario I appreciated both of these sights: a banner on the riverfront proclaiming the area a celebration of sexual diversity and a Little Free Library. I was excited to see this take-a-book, leave-a-book concept has an international presence.
In addition to being famous as the hometown of futbol god Lionel Messi, this city is also where the Argentine flag was first flown. This National Flag Monument is a complex inaugurated in 1957 to honor Manuel Belgrano, the person who created and first raised the national flag in 1812 on the banks of the Parana River.
I rode an elevator to the top of the monument’s tower to capture these views of the city of Rosario.