Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Las Sierras de Córdoba - Part 2: Little Germany, pretty views and some wine!

Chairlift up the Sugar Loaf Mountain near Cosquin
While in Córdoba - Argentina's second city, we hired a car to explore the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with interesting villages as well as beautiful landscapes.

We spent most of our first day in Alta Gracia, exploring the Jesuit Estancia and at the Che Guevara museum. To read more about our time in Alta Gracia see this post.

Leaving Alta Gracia, we headed to Villa General Belgrano, stopping on the way to take in some of the views.

Entering the small town of Villa General Belgrano, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped into a Bavarian village. The waiters and waitresses serve artisan German style beer, alongside apple strudels and leberwurst, while dressed in lederhosen. The architecture reminded me of some kind of weird cross between a German Christmas market and an alpine village.

It was only July, but they were already ready for Oktoberfest 2014!
The town was founded  in 1930 by two German migrants and now boasts one of the biggest Oktoberfests after Munich and Blumenau in Brazil. We were there in July and so the wrong time of year for Oktoberfest, but still managed to sample some of the local beers.

Belgrano is not the only Bavarian inspired village in the area, as we discovered on our walk around the pedestrian only town of La Cumbrecita the next day. 

We got ourselves a map from tourist information and worked out a circular route around the town and into the countryside that would take us past pretty waterfalls, quaint churches, alpine style lodges and views across the valley below.

Waterhole - perfect for a dip (but only in the summer)

Alpine chalets

Quaint little church
Pretty waterfall

Alpine chalets

Woodcarvings on our walk

On the way to La Cumbrecita, we had spotted a sign to a local vineyard, which we decided to visit to on the way back. The road down to the vineyard was a little hairy and we started to doubt that it even existed, before arriving at a small bridge that talk us across to a closed looking farm. 

Driving over the bridge

We parked up and the owner appeared and offered us a free tour around the vineyard. He was very excited that we lived in London, as he said that the most important wine show that his vineyard take part in was the one in Islington, North London - very close to where I work. 
Straight from the vat!
After a tour, he gave us a sample of some wine straight from the vat, which we enjoyed in the sun, before purchasing a bottle for our evening's dinner.

Sipping delicious wine in the winter sun

Back in Belgrano, we found a shop selling fresh pasta to cook ourselves - all part of Argentina's Italian influence. We enjoyed a yummy Italian inspired dinner at the hostel in a German inspired town with our bottle of Argentinian wine, chatting to a group of Argentinians and a stray Frenchman - an international evening!

The chairlift up the Sugarloaf Mountain/Pan de Azucar mountain
We spent the final two days of our Cordoban road trip in the northern part of the sierras, enjoying a riverside walk and condor spotting on the top of the Pan de Azúcar in Cosquín, before moving on to explore the town of La Cumbre and the surrounding area.

We found yet another big statue of Jesus on a hill - there are lots of these in South America - and walked up to see what he could see!

The Christ

What he can see!

We also went for a very enjoyable drive along the "Camino de los Artesanos", where local people sell crafty things from their homes.

One of the craft shops

We bought homemade alfores (delicious biscuit type things usually filled with dulce de leche - first spotted in Valparaiso), as well as some craft beers. 

mmm alfajor
We also finally manged to find some maté gourds that we both liked. We'd been eyeing up for a while these gourds used for drinking the bitter hot tea-like drink that Argentinians love. 

James' mate gourd
One of our last stops before heading back to Córdoba was down the to Cuchi Corral viewpoint and paragliding jump off point. 


There were lots of paragliders when we got there. Unfortunately we didn't quite have enough money with us to join in. We still got to enjoy the incredible views though.

The beautiful view from Cuchi Coral

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