This month’s collection of point-and-click snapshots with asinine commentary follows below. In the unlikely event you’d like more of this nonsense, click here to see our snaps from past months, and  click here to visit our Flickr page.

 


 

colon-1280Grand from the outside and elegant within, Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón draws plenty of foreign visitors to its guided tours. It’s a beautiful building, certainly, but the tours miss the point: the room is at its best with an orchestra in it. The second of the two concerts we saw there started and ended with a couple of fascinating works by the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino, not a name previously familiar to us. But the orchestra and the house really shone with a performance of Bartók’s concert suite arrangement of music for his one-act ballet ‘The Miraculous Mandarin’. The theatre’s reputation for the extraordinary quality of its acoustic is well merited: neither of us can remember hearing an orchestra sounding this vivid and vital.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
1 November 2013

 


 

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No tourist honeypot is complete without its chocolate shop. However, El Chaltén’s is a cut above the rest. A landmark among local climbers, Josh Aike resides in a galleried log cabin whose how-did-they-build-that nature is characteristic of the town’s generally improvised architecture. Here are some of its chocolatey offerings.
El Chaltén, Santa Cruz, Argentina
8 November 2013

 


 

wc-1280One of the few entertainments Will enjoyed during his time working in London’s perfectly ghastly Canary Wharf was the regular ballet of window cleaners, rising and falling outside the area’s skyscrapers in neat, safe little boxes. In Buenos Aires, it turns out, they dispense with health-and-safety nonsense and simply let their window cleaners dangle in the breeze. This string of daredevils were swaying like pendulums in a shop window filled with ill-wound grandfather clocks.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
16 November 2013

 


 

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A coincidence of timing put us in the beautiful town of San Antonio de Areco for the climax of its 74th Fiesta de la Tradición, which rounds up caballeros from the surrounding area for a day of dancing, horsemanship, drinking and meat-eating. It’s quite charming, although we couldn’t help but suspect that come Monday morning, half the participants would be back in civvies, riding not horses but tractors and combine harvesters.
San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires, Argentina
17 November 2013

 


 

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The appeal of the sport on show at the festival began to wane after an hour or so – there are only so many times you can watch a horse trying to throw a man on to the ground without wishing for a little more variety. However, our attention was held by the PA announcer, who sung a constant, improvised, rhyming commentary on the action to his own guitar accompaniment.
San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires, Argentina
17 November 2013

 


 

gil-1280We grew accustomed to the sight of traditional religious shrines by the side of the road in Brazil. Argentina, though, has its own unorthodox way of paying tribute to a pair of folk heroes with little or no religious connection. We’ve passed dozens of shrines to Gauchito Gil, a venerated and vaguely mythic figure whose story – real or imagined – is neatly summarised on this page. Drivers stop to leave flowers, drinks (wine, water) and other trinkets of their appreciation at these sites, dominated by the colour red and not all as elaborate as this one.
Ruta 8, near San Antonio de Areco, Buenos Aires, Argentina
18 November 2013

 


 

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Other shrines, meanwhile, pay tribute to the Difunta Correa, another mythic figure whose tale has its origins in the 19th century. In the story, the Correa dies of thirst in the San Juan desert while searching for her husband, who’d been enlisted in the army against his will, but her baby son is kept alive by suckling her breast. With sometimes hundreds of water bottles left in homage, the shrines can resemble rubbish dumps. This is one of the tidier examples we passed.
Ruta 7, west of La Paz, Mendoza, Argentina
30 November 2013

 


 

estrella-1024The roads of Argentina are dotted with yellow stars, often (but not always) containing a person’s name. It took us a few kilometres to figure out that these estrellas mark the sites of major accidents, and that each one represents a life lost on the road. It’s an effective way of reminding drivers (and cyclists) of the perils that lie ahead of them.
Ruta 32, north of Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19 November 2013

 


 

circulo-1024Our second grand old theatre of the month: this is the Teatro El Círculo in Rosario, built at the end of the 19th century and beautifully restored in 2004. When we took a look, the place was packed with high school-age kids preparing to present an end-of-year show for friends and family.
Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
20 November 2013

 


 

veg-1280Rosario is a handsome, tidy city whose appeal is neatly summarised by this perfectly fabulous display of fruit and vegetables outside a late-night grocer’s shop. We’d have bought something, but we didn’t want to spoil it.
Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
20 November 2013

 


 

budweiser-800Order a litre-bottle of beer in a restaurant in Argentina, and it’ll arrive with the fanfare generally accorded to a fine white wine. Here, Will’s Budweiser (look, it had been a hot day and they didn’t have anything else, all right?) nestles in an ice bucket beneath a crisp white napkin. Which would all be well and good were it not for the fact that Ruth’s half-bottle of fine white wine was plonked on to the table, ice-free, with all the fanfare generally accorded to… well, Budweiser.
Villa María, Córdoba, Argentina
23 November 2013

 


 

sampachodinner-1280We arrived in the small town of Sampacho expecting to stay at one of its two modest hotels. En route to the first, a man in a pick-up truck stopped us for a chat and offered to take us around the town; outside the second, another man pulled up and asked us where we were from. Both hotels were full, and so both men – Mario and Dante – took us under their wings: first taking us back to the house Dante shares with Roxana and their lovely daughter Camila, then feeding us an astoundingly generous dinner (a similarly delicious lunch followed the next day), then insisting we stay in their bed and get a good night’s sleep while they slept on the floor. Mario even popped out for a few minutes during the evening and returned with two inner tubes, a thoughtful gift for the road. The generosity of people we’ve met throughout our travels has been quite humbling, but this was on another level entirely. It’s one of our favourite nights on the trip.
Sampacho, Córdoba, Argentina
26 November 2013

 


 

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The province of San Luis doesn’t draw a huge number of tourists, but it does its best to make its visitors feel very welcome. The morning after Will had seen the namesake capital city as part of a free evening tour of its landmarks, we noticed that the local authorities had taken the delightful step of painting all the lampposts on Ruta 7, the main east-west road through the province, in a succession of jaunty colours.
San Luis, Argentina
29 November 2013

 


 

lapaz-1280The small town of La Paz is notable mostly for its location roughly halfway along the 260km road between San Luis and Mendoza, making it a perfect overnight stop for the few touring cyclists who come this way. The highlight is a wonderfully preserved gas station in the care of the ACA, the Argentine equivalent of the AA.
La Paz, Mendoza, Argentina
30 November 2013

 


 

47-1280The last ten days have offered us a preview of the kind of heat we can expect on the road during the summer that’s about to begin. Check the reading on the GPS device above. Our thoroughly unscientific research suggests that if the sun’s out, which is often, then we can add about a third again to the advertised temperature when there’s no shade in sight, which is often. Note the colour of Will’s arms, which now nicely match his handlebar tape. Despite this delicious accessorising, a long-sleeved shirt is on our shopping list.
somewhere along Ruta 7, Mendoza, Argentina
30 November 2013

 


 

andes1-1280At last, the Andes.
somewhere along Ruta 7, Mendoza, Argentina
30 November 2013

 


 

from Maipú, MZ, Argentina