Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Day Nine: Argentina – Cordoba, A bustling second city


 It was restored but unfortunately while the restoration provided a glimpse of history much of the truth seemed missing. The central palace too had undergone major modern refurbishment hinting at a contradiction in terms of maintaining architectural heritage….







Arriving at a bustling bus terminal correctly indicates this as the second largest city, Cordoba. The university town near the middle of Argentina close to the entrance of the wine country is built across flat fields of an agricultural economy. Stepping first onto the main street circling the city the yellow taxis mark an emblem for Cordoba. An army of these yellow vehicles line every street and prepare for onslaught at each junction.
 
On initial inspection among semi-rise new builds and spontaneous coffee bars are grandiose buildings marking Argentine heritage – a mix of historic cultures paraded around the main square – Plaza San Martin. By 9am the day’s heat is evidently creeping towards the 30’s as locals reach for the shade cigarette in hand on the way to work.

Like any cosmopolitan city the population strides smart phone in hand, slurping on juice, Coke or 7Up with the odd citizen chomping ice-cream and snacks.

Clearly a shopping centre – Argentine’s wonder the streets among avenue after avenue of electronic, clothes, shows and most importantly sunglasses shops. The centre is built around a network of 4 x4 streets of shops.
 
We strolled the city discovering the architectural heritage of Cordoba, recognising the mix of influences across two centuries of Western European origin. While many structures looked impressive, a closer inspection identified the cracks of a quick makeover. A Jesuit Crypt discovered in 1989 when a telecom company dug to place new lines – it was restored but unfortunately while the restoration provided a glimpse of history much of the truth seemed missing. The central palace too had undergone major modern refurbishment hinting at a contradiction in terms of maintaining architectural heritage.

The sun-blazes here in Cordoba, but small lanes criss-crossing in a grid system lined with buildings 3 – 4 floors high provided ample protection from the sun’s heat. North of the central plaza the streets beamed with excited shoppers – for me one of the largest shopping districts, more shops than many malls in Europe.







A break from the long city trek to rest our feet by a French bar – I hoped to enjoy the famous Argentine custom of Mate – instead presented with a cup a saucer and mate tea bag. It seems in 7 days traditional mate is off limits to tourists. Time to behave more like a traveller me thinks!

The evening took us to a local and historic Paradilla, established in 1906, together with our new friend Raul for whom we met at Iguaçu. He too was staying at The Aldea Hostel – funnily enough in the next dorm to us. The Paradilla served us a beef de chorizo, the size of two fists lovingly marinated and browned over hot coals. Accompanied by Argentine tinto y blanco wine from Mendoza country. http://www.aldeahostel.com/

After the long red-eye drive from Resistencia I was shagged – the day was over for me as my head willingly led me to my final resting place for the day – Casa 109.

COSTS:
Aldea Hostel: AR$220 (2 nights) http://www.aldeahostel.com/
Bag of Laundry: AR$18
Visit the crypt: AR$2
Visit Palace Museuo: AR$3
A Pair of Sunglasses: AR$115