Days: 358-359 (18 June 2015 – 19 June 2015)
Total distance travelled: 78,211.86 kilometres (48,578.8 miles)
To date, Argentina had been a tale of incredible sights, broken by overnight buses )of which it felt like there’d been many).
Queue another early morning arrival at a city bus terminal, this time it was the city of Cordoba.
Surprisingly, despite the night on the bus and the preceding days indulgence in wine, our heads felt fine, so once it was light enough, we got our bearings and made our way to our hostel.
The walk was pretty easy, however finding the hostel proved a little harder, as initially (and even once we knew where it sat, it happened again) we simply strolled right on by and past its narrow entrance.
Still, eventually we got it right, were able to rest our packs (and therefore our backs) as well as partake in the offered breakfast and simply hang around until check-in.
In truth, the breakfast was ordinary, but it was nice to have a hot drink and the hostel itself was within an old historical home so the setting was at least attractive!
Then we were out and about, making the most of our time to explore this historical city.
Now the map of the historical centre we’d grabbed from our hostel highlighted many iglesias (churches), indeed there is an entire block with this city (that has earned itself a UNESCO World Heritage listing) that is chock full of buildings affiliated with religious orders and study.
So it will come as little surprise, especially after we spied its tiled steeples from an adjacent block, that our first stop was one of these aforementioned houses of worship.
Out on the streets, despite the clear blue skies, the air was cold.
As a result, our path was governed less by where we might wish to go, and more by which direction offered us the most sunlight in which to walk!
Nevertheless, our next stop again happened to be another of the city’s churches, this the Basilica de Santo Domingo obviously more a visit of opportunity than intent.
Still, once beyond the rather unremarkable facade, this place had some definite surprises.
You should know by now (unless of course you’re a new reader… in which case welcome) that we love a good church cupola or dome.
Well, this place sported not one, but two, and both were pretty stunning!
We snaked our way towards Plaza San Martin, the city’s equivalent to a plaza de armas throughout many other South American countries, as they usually provide a hub from which the city (or town will sprawl).
They also usually deliver the fine cathedrals and governmental buildings from colonial times which usually impress… then there’s always just the opportunity to people watch in what is often the heart of town.
A brief wander through a sobering lane-way brought us into the square, which was certainly not as busy as expected, and would have felt even less alive were it not for a couple of school groups roaming around.
One of these groups was busy before la Catedral (no exciting names here), so we decided to wander in and see what all the fuss was about… okay, so we would’ve checked the joint out regardless!
Beneath its admittedly gargantuan exterior, it was decidedly far more exciting than its rather bland name, a gorgeous ceiling and dome quickly proving this place to be anything but plain.
The next church we’d spied on our map as being nearby, so this was the first for the day that we’d deliberately sought, the Iglesia de San Francisco.
Cordoba can owe the uniformity of its layout in the heart of the city to the Spanish who applied an even grid system during its construction.
Blocks of one hundred metres even making the judging of distance relatively easy, and a whole square (of one hundred metres by one hundred metres) being known as a Manzana.
To confuse things a little, this is also the word for apple…
Still, after wandering a couple of hundred apples, we found ourselves at the Iglesia de San Francisco itself.
We dodged several beggars to make our entrance, ever present outside the churches in this city, but thankfully nowhere near as loud or pushy as their Bolivian counterparts!
Once inside it took a moment for our eyes to adjust, and yet again, Cordoba delivered another impressive cupola.
By now our disappointing breakfast made itself known in the form of our hungry stomachs, but thankfully we already had a plan.
We’d check out the two local markets we had directions for, one of which was thankfully close.
Minutes later as we surveyed the paucity of options, we were simply thankful that we hadn’t had to walk too far to waste our time, but thankfully the other, more distant market had more potential, apparently being the larger of the pair.
It was with some relief, after eying off some horrible looking pizza and hot dog options, we found our answer.
This came in the form of our first Choripáns.
A toasted bun occupied by a halved and grilled chorizo (ours came with tomato, lettuce and a liberal slosh of Chimmichurri), this Argentinean treat wasn’t bad at all… although we’d have personally left the chorizo on the grill a little longer!
Fully recharged, we’d also had enough for the day, a long night on the bus seeing us a little weary.
We still had more to see however, and the following day saw us up and at it, ready to visit the UNESCO listed Jesuit Block and Estancias of Cordoba.
The much simpler name of Manzana Jesuitica couldn’t be visited without a guide, so with time to burn, we had no issue waiting around.
Turns out we were the only visitors, and as such we were able to have the tour in a combination of Spanish, and a little English when needed.
It was actually a pretty interesting tour, and although we’d actually visited the attached church only an hour or so earlier (as we killed time waiting for the tour), the chance to see its stunning ceiling again was not something we turned our noses up at.
After a lunch of empanadas, it was out to inspect our last church of our Cordoba experience, the interestingly labelled, Capuchin Church (otherwise known as the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon or, Church of the Sacred Heart).
We couldn’t enter, but it was styled in a beautifully gothic way, so very different to the other churches we’d visited throughout the city.
Down this end of town for the first time, we decided to wander a little further around, skirting a couple of museums without truly harbouring any intent of entering, eyed off some more lovely buildings with colonial facades, and even a large needle like monument.
Just beside the monument sat something that may have been artistically inspired, but was presently being re-purposed by local youths.
This wavelike construction of slick tiles (truly, you had to be careful not to slip and land on your arse) was instead being enjoyed as an over sized slide!
We stocked up on supplies at a local grocer, before hanging at our hostel a little longer to kill some time.
Ahead lay yet another overnight bus, a journey that would be taking us further north, closer to the Bolivian and Chilean borders.
We’d loved the churches of Cordoba (well, at least the painted ceilings and domes), but in truth, we’d found the city otherwise pretty dull…
* An overnight bus from Mendoza to Cordoba cost us $550.00 pesos per person and took 12 hours.
* Entrance into the UNESCO World Heritage listed Manzana Jesuitica cost us $10.00 pesos per person with the option of two morning guided tours (one in English, the other in Spanish).