27.03.2014 - 29.03.2014 15 °C
Thursday 27th - Saturday 29th March 2014
So this truly was going to be the first epic bus journey. 18 hours! We were very suspicious before we even arrived at the bus station as to the quality of the bus. And the minute I saw it I knew the guy had lied. It was an old bus BUT although the seats were old and narrow, we had FRONT ROW SEATS UPSTAIRS! Finally! The fact that the TV was on the floor and I had to angle my head weirdly to see it seemed like a small price to pay.
As we settled in, the host came round with drinks, it was in a small plastic cup, it was clear, it was fizzing, could it be that we were about to get champagne and first row seats?! No. It was 7up. But a girl can dream. We were first given a snack, the usual sugar packed treats and then a few hours later dinner was served. Zarius dug straight in and declared the meal as devine, and when I laughed added the caveat of 'for this kind of meal' but I have to say, when I cut into the beef I could see where he was going with this bold statement. The beef was super tender. As was the pork. We have paid good money for a lot worse.
We slept quite well actually, despite the loud annoying buzzer that sprang into life, red flashing light and all, anytime the driver went over 100km per hour, (which seemed to be on the hour every hour). Then as suspected at 9am the next morning we were told we would have to change buses. Surprise surprise. But it was nice to stretch our legs and get a bit of air and when our new bus turned up, it was exactly that. New. And the whole bus was cama suite class so we had lie flat beds for the last 4 hours of our journey! It's the small things...
Yay! Front row seat (which turned out to be terrifying at times)
The gourmet dinner experience begins
It might be 9am and I may have slept well but I am using the lie flat bed regardless
As salta appeared in the distance it looked like a city carved out of the lush green mountains. And it looked big, but once off the bus we realised it was a strange mix of big (ish) city made up of small town buildings. We found our hostel, Hostel in Salta (exactly whats it says on the tin!), on foot and checked in. It was super clean so we were happy. I felt shattered for some reason so it was evening before we ventured out. Salta is a loud city, made up of lots of narrow streets full of beeping cars. It's bustling and crowded and caters for us. The tourist. Salta is another place that people raved about but to be honest we couldn't see what the attraction was. We were starting to feel disillusioned by Northern Argentina. Outside of Salta the mountains were meant to be amazing so we decided to stay one day in the city to explore and then rent a car for a couple of days and do some touring.
Our hostel, having a facelift
There is a cable car that takes you up a hill overlooking the city so the next morning we hopped on. The views are nice, but it felt like we were just going through the motions. We sat down on a bench and took some time to reflect. We realised we were hanging around for the sake of it, because it was on our itinerary and was something that people said we should do but not something we were actually enjoying. We were both excited about the Atacama desert and then moving into Bolivia and came to the conclusion that if we weren't feeling it, there was no point in renting a car to drive around for 3 days looking at scenery. We could go straight back to Chile and start our next adventure. With that agreed, we got the cable car back down and went to the bus station to book our tickets out the next morning. It would be an early start.
We woke up to rain, it was still dark and it looked miserable out. We packed up and checked out and began our wet walk to the station. It was 6am on a Saturday morning and the streets were alive with the stragglers from the night before. Every doorstep seemed to be occupied by a canoodling couple and before long we felt like we had stumbled upon a red light district. Two prostitutes walked by us, wearing towering heels with very short skirts and little else. We passed a lot of weird and wonderful things on that street and I was glad when I saw the bus station appear at the end of it.
The bus, although not bad, was the worst to date. It smelled very bad and wasn't very comfortable. We were served a very balanced breakfast of a small packets of custard creams and a slice of cake each and off we set. The Atacama Desert here we come!