Córdoba, Cuesta Blanca & Why We Use TripAdvisor
Córdoba is Argentina’s second-largest city and named after the more famous city of Córdoba in Spain. We arrived in the early morning by an overnight bus from Buenos Aires. Unlike in the US, buses are the way to travel throughout Argentina and Chile. For all our long-haul trips (9 to 12 hours), we went for “cama suite” seats that recline 180°, include personal television sets and full meal and beverage service–a first-class experience for a tiny fraction of the cost of flying economy! Imagine drinking wine and whisky on a bus while watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes… Who would’ve thought?
As for Córdoba itself, there isn’t much to write about. You can easily see the city in a day, but the nature surrounding it is nice and worthwhile. We took a day trip out to Cuesta Blanca for a bit of hiking and a dip in the Rio San Antonio to beat the high heat and humidity. Apparently, this is the summer hot spot for all the locals; there’s even a commune of hippies who reside in tents along a small stretch of beach this time of year!
The truth is we’ve become a bit lazy about researching what to do before we arrive in a new city. We had no idea this incredible setting was just an hour by public transport outside of Córdoba. A girl at our hostel arranged for a guide, so the two of us plus a couple others tagged along. This situation highlighted not only the fun in spontaneity, though, but also the reason why we normally check for well-reviewed tour operators in advance.
BENEFITS OF BEING SPONTANEOUS
- We went to a place we wouldn’t have known about or gone to on our own.
- Even if we had gone, we probably wouldn’t have hiked as far up the river or climbed up alongside a waterfall.
- We had the opportunity to bond with Marie from Paris who is traveling alone in South America for the next eight months.
- It made the rest of our stay at the hostel the most social hostel experience of our entire trip.
PITFALLS OF IMPROPER PLANNING
- The guides were more like two friends showing us around rather than people who do this for a living.
- They arrived two hours late, didn’t budget enough time to take us to all the highlights of Cuesta Blanca and didn’t anticipate the time of the return bus ride back to Córdoba.
- They promised a steak lunch, which we paid for, but substituted it with burgers and pizza while pocketing the difference.
- We never really knew what was going on or what to expect.
Ultimately, we had a great time in Córdoba because of the people we met and despite taking a tour that was a disorganized mess. At least it reinforces the value of checking TripAdvisor first. While the city we don’t necessarily need to visit again (it’s no Buenos Aires), Cuesta Blanca, like much of the nature we’ve seen in South America, is exceptional. There are also small towns in the region, like Alta Gracia, childhood home of Che Guevara, that we only had a few rushed hours for on this first pass through. Next stop: Mendoza!