This is for the period from Wednesday September 8 to Friday Setember 10th.
After a 4 hour bus ride sitting up front turned into 5 (there was a protest and blockade on the road at one point, but the bus simply turned off the road and took a detour!), I’d determined never to do it again when travelling towards the equator – it was VERY hot in the glaring sun. Upon arrival at Rosario it was late afternoon, but still around 25 degrees. After my hostel (Quechua Hostel) directions informed me it was two streets from the bus station, I decided to start walking. What they failed to mention was it was about 30 min down the first street, and 10 down the second, so by the time I got there in the heat I was fairly stuffed.
I dropped my gear to the ground and rang the bell. Nothing. I rang again, and knocked. Then I noticed the sign advertising rooms at a hostel and a phone number. This didn’t bode well. I walked to the cafe next door and asked them, but they had no idea, so I wandered back outside. Just as I was considering what to do, some locals asked if I needed help, I explained that I’d liked to know where I could find a hostel, pointing out this one seemed shut. This was fun, as they had broken English, and I had very broken Spanish. They started to guess at directions, then pulled out a phone to call someone. I jumped at this and suggested the number on the door. Turned out the guy had waited for my arrival time per hostelbookers, and then done a walk, which is not the best solution, but five minutes later and he was back and let me in.
As it turns out, Quechua Hostel may be one of the only hostels in South America not to offer breakfast. However that was the only downside – it’s a really nice hostel, great cooking facilities, and I got a dorm to myself, which was more of a private room.
I took a walk around town in the evening and got myself some snacks, before returning to the hostel and meeting Tom Cooper, another guest from England. He’d been staying there for the duration of the Women’s Hockey World Cup taking place in Rosario, and Tom, as the editor of PUSH Hockey Magazine was over covering it. (Side note, he also wrote “Cycle Touring in Ireland”). Not a bad gig, going to games during the day and writing about them in the evening.
The next day it became evident that my plans for Rosario were not working out too well. The Spanish class I was eyeing up would start on the Monday, but Friday night every place in town was going to be booked up in preparation for the hockey final on Saturday. I decided it may be worth moving on, but spoke with the owners of the hostel anyway – they had offered me a really good deal on a long term stay in the ‘loft’ of the hostel if I wanted to return.
Anyway, I set out to check out the park which runs around the main part of the city, which is bounded by the river. A beautiful setting, it was still really warm as well, and lots of people were out enjoying the sun, cycling, running and so on. I circled the city – it’s quite a student town, and came across the Monumento a la Bandera, Monument to the Flag – the location where the Argentinian flag was first raised in 1812. Nifty. I cruised around town a bit more, noting how European it felt – far cleaner than Buenos Aires, but almost lacking an Argentinian feel in a way.
That night I tried steak again, trying to refind the magic of Argentinean beef. Sadly I was finding that the wrong cut may taste ok, but be quite tough, and going cheap really didn’t seem to be working. Maybe it was just the wrong restaurants. Anyway, returning home I got talking with an English couple who had just arrived, and Tom who had been watching the semi-finals. It seemed that las leonas, the Argentinean women had made it into the final successfully, so Saturday really was going to be crazy in town.
Friday I decided it was definitely time to move on. I had checked the times, so cruised to the bus station (by cab this time), and bought a ticket for that night – an overnight ride to Mendoza. It’s meant to be some sort of wine capital. I’d almost gone to Cordoba, but there wasn’t much I’d heard that really grabbed me about that city, and I wanted to get to Santiago by the following weekend for the bicentennial that Adrianne had mentioned.
Wandering back into town I went on a massive walk. First I headed up to Plaza San Martin, with a great monument to General San Martin (amazing General who helped win independence from Spain, whose feats include a 21 day march over the Andes from Mendoza to Chile!). Next, I decided to try and find “Che” Guvera’s house, from when he lived in Rosario. I came to the intersection it was meant to be on, and Che Hostel was opposite, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Hopping on the net in a cafe, I found an ancient photo of the building, and confirmed that I had the correct building, but it was now just some company – no museum or anything. Ah well.
From there I revisted the Monumento a la Bandera, going up to the viewpoint in the tower they have there. A storm was starting to come across the city, so I spent some time taking photos for panoramas and HDR shots, before heading back down and along the river. Mid afternoon I looked at my map and found that there was a status of “Che” south of the city center, so started walking. It was a fair distance, but I was in the flow and it was still warm.
Then the rain drops started. A few at first, but then a flash of lightning and more came, and as I ran the last half-dozen blocks to the statue, I managed to get pretty soaked. Got the obligatory shot and then grabbed a cab back to the hostel, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s when it stopped raining…
I collected my gear, and intending to catch a cab, I somehow kept walking to the bus station, ending a day of around 14km of walking. The bus station had several strays walking around, starting fights and having staff chase them with brooms. I hopped onto my favourite bus company Andesmar and got some sleep, for in the morning, I’d be hitting wine country…
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