Salta (photos) is the name of a city and also the name of the northwestern most province of Argentina. The city has just over 500,000 inhabitants and has perhaps the most colonial architecture of any city in Argentina.
It has a lovely main plaza, Plaza 9 de Julio, which is lined with orange trees and surrounded by sidewalk cafes and arched walkways lining the streets. As it happens, our first day there was July 9th, which corresponds to the name of the main plaza and is essentially independence day for Argentina. There were no major celebrations but many of the shops were closed and we did witness one march/demonstration that ended in the plaza. There was flag waving and chanting that went on for about an hour before police broke up and dispersed the crowd.
We didn’t do anything outside of the city during our visit. We took the opportunity to do some planning for the next couple of weeks of our travel. It seems very busy in this part of Argentina right now and we had some difficulty working out our schedule.
A word about costs. It seems that Argentina has experienced quite a bit of inflation during recent times. The inflation rate has been running at 9% to 11% for the past couple of years. This is causing a little sticker shock. Our guidebook is the most recent available from Lonely Planet and the costs cited there are woefully out of date. In one example, the guidebook cites a bus fare for Salta to Cordoba as 330 AR Pesos but we found the cost for that bus ticket to be 450 AR Pesos now.
In order to compare costs, it’s useful to cite the cost of some item that is available pretty much worldwide in order to get a feel for relative costs. For example, McDonalds operates virtually everywhere so it can be used to show the cost of something everyone can relate to. In Salta, we looked in at the McDonalds and found the cost for a quarter pounder with cheese combo meal (burger, fries and drink) to be 50 AR Pesos. At the current rate of exchange, this equates to $9.25 USD. So you can see, Argentina is a relatively expensive place.
From Salta, we move on the Cafayate to the south.