Part 3: Cordoba, Argentina


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The Trip

We had a great dinner in Puerto Iguazu, but to make our flight we had to get up at 0500 local time.  Our taxi came at the appointed time and all was well.  The flight from Iguazu to Cordoba was only 90 minutes on a small (2x2 seat) Embraer jet that looked like a mini-737.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

For whatever reason, we had to wait about 20 minutes for a taxi at the airport.  When the taxi came, there was some negotiation between the taxi master and the driver as to whether he would accept the ride.  It seems he was complaining about congestion in the city center and did not want to take the fare.  I proactively got in a different cab and we launched off on a 30 minute high-speed ride to the center of town.  This day was our first day in-country using ad hoc choices.  We did not choose the hotel until we were sitting on the baggage claim belt, so we were not sure where the hotel was or what it would be like.  My angst was peaking as we pulled up to the door of the hotel.  The scene was something akin to Avenida Revolution in Tijuana on a national holiday:  dense crowds of people pushing and shoving their way down the street serenaded my continuous honking of angry taxi horns.  We literally had to elbow our way through the throng to get across the sidewalk from the curb to the access door of the hotel.  Outside, the scene was something from Baja with exposed rebar and electric wires strung hither and thither.  Something good (or bad) was going on at the BSE (a bank) building at the right of the photo above.  There was a huge line of folks waiting to gain access.  The line blocked the street forcing pedestrians into the traffic lanes.  Was this a run on the bank?  Postscript: we learned from a local the following day that a bank holiday was coming, therefore these folks were attempting to conduct transaction prior to the holiday.  Banks in Cordoba, and presumably all of Argentina close their doors at 1330.  Banker's hours indeed.

After checking in at the front desk, we were told that check-in time was 1400 and since it was only noon, the lady gave us a suggestion for a nice restaurant for lunch.  She stashed our bags in the bellman's closet and we hit the bricks.  From the street, we could see the European-style architecture reminiscent of the 1800's.

Looking back toward the hotel, we could see the line for the BSE and an endless line of municipal buses and taxis on the narrow street.

One block away, the crowds were just as large and had nothing to do with whatever was going on at BSE.  It was lunch time in downtown Cordoba and the herd was on the move.

From Plaza San Martin we could see more nice buildings.

In the plaza there is a bronze statue on a huge plinth that is dedicated to "Don Jose de San Martin, Liberator of Argentina" (translated).  In Spanish, "Don" is similar to saying "sir" or "lord".

On the side of Plaza San Martin was a cathedral.  While small by European standards, it was a nice building.

Oddly, there were not that many folks in the plaza itself.

While the plaza may have been relatively quiet, the main street was anything but quiet.  It seems that all the municipal bus lines have stops near the plaza resulting in huge crowds standing on the sidewalks blocking the pedestrian traffic flow.  Note the stone walls on the right are part of the cathedral.

The back side of the cathedral had a statue of Jeronimo Luis de Cabrera, founder of Cordoba.  Founded in 1573, Cordoba is one of the older settlements in the New World.

More nice buildings in the classical style.

The side streets were much narrower than I expected.  In retrospect, given the age of the city, this should not have been surprising.

Some of the park areas were a bit more modern, but there were few "modern" buildings like Manhattan.

The river that flows through the center of Cordoba was rather small.  I am guessing that in the rainy season, if indeed there is a rainy season here, it runs strong and fast.

This government building was in need of some paint and general maintenance; it looked quite shabby.  We had an awesome lunch at El Papagayo and then returned on foot through the city.

Several of the narrow streets had been turned into pedestrian malls which were quite pleasant, and indeed much safer than walking next to high-speed vehicles.  There were a wide variety of shops selling all manner of consumer items from shoes to hardware.

Worried about the health of American brands abroad?  Don't be concerned, for McD at least, as we saw outlets everywhere.

Another narrow street converted into a pedestrian mall.

Our path took us past a convent.  The cupola was covered in intricate hand-painted tile.  A close inspection of the photo above will reveal a strong Moorish influence on the tile (this cannot be seen in the reduced resolution photo in this web page, but trust me).

We got back to our hotel and were shocked to see the dichotomy between the outward edifice and the interior.  "Don't judge a book by it's cover" rings true in most cases, and it was surely the case here.  The entryway was stunning.

Contemporary in style, the room sported tropical hardwood floors and tables and tile accents on the wall.

The interior courtyard was nice as well with floors done in cut stone.  Note the original brick walls and doors.

From the entrance to our room, looking back at the reception area.

We were told there was a roof deck so we went to check it out.  Very nice.

From the deck, we had a clear view of adjacent buildings.  The story here is not the buildings, but rather the ad hoc wiring.  I am guessing that local building codes do not prevent this sort of thing or if they do, they are not enforced.

The pattern was repeated on nearly every building we saw.

Below us, across the street, the ad hoc wiring is remarkable in its extent.  I am not sure what is up with the exposed rebar.  Either the rebar was left exposed to render the building "in construction" for tax purposes or the contractor went bankrupt.

All in all, given the outstanding lunch and nice accommodations, it was a great day.  Tomorrow, we get a rental car and head out of town toward the Andes Mountains.

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