I spent 10 days in Córdoba and many of those just relaxing, so I have a really random assortment of pictures from there. I’ll try categorizing them to make it a little more cohesive.
The distinctive feature I’ve noticed in Argentinian pedestrian zones/shopping areas is trees/greenery. Córdoba actually has an alley called walk among the flowers.
Whereas in Chile you’ll find café con piernas (cafe with legs, where the baristas wear really short skirts), in Argentina they seem a bit more conservative in offering a cafe with God instead.
At night, if you follow the music in the central plaza to a small patio, there’s an open Tango session, which is cool to watch.
In Córdoba I both had my first choripan, and sat on a bench that was designed as kind of a monument dedicated to the food. It’s just like the word indicates, chorizo (sausage) on pan (bread) with a few other toppings.
On the Streets
The Cordobese people seem to have come up with some cool ideas for street signage, which is impressive given that there is so little of it to start with. One is the stop sign that doesn’t apply to bicyclists (if I’m reading the yield sign on the road correctly), which is a concept that was also passed in San Francisco but promptly vetoed by the mayor. It does exist in a few states, however.
Another one is the pedestrian walking sign that’s female as opposed to male, because why should men be the only ones telling you when you’re allowed to walk??
In many cities, you can take a touristy ride through downtown on a horse-drawn carriage, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the 1800s I suppose. But in Córdoba there was actually someone using just that to transport cardboard to the other side of town.
Walking through downtown, you get disappointed quickly because you see signs for playa, which everyone knows mean beach…
EXCEPT in Argentina, where it also means parking lot! What???
Argentina has a lot of European heritage and customs, including the propensity to protest all kinds of things. When they’re not talking about the economy or human rights abuses during the dictatorship thirty years ago, they’re campaigning to regain control of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), which effectively have been under British rule since 1833 but were the site of a war between the two countries in 1982.
There’s basically a lot of maritime rights on the line, especially for fishing.
There’s even a bus company named in support of Argentinian sovereignty, which I thought was a funny way to express a viewpoint.
The Argentinian economy is on rocky footing right now, which I noticed as soon as I entered the country. Some things that stuck out here…inflation is so bad that most restaurant menus are not printed with prices, since they would have to be reprinted so often. Instead they use erasable markers, or sometimes stickers, to be able to change prices frequently.
It was also here where a major pharmacy chain had posted a notice requesting exact change, which is funny because it’s not clear where you’re supposed to get change from as a consumer. Apparently, when bus fares were still paid for by cash, drivers would require payment in coins and then sell them on the black market for a 8% markup. It’s so unbelievable to me that you can have a shortage not of cash, but of small change…
Despite economic difficulties, the government does provide free healthcare to all people. However, for better service you sign up for private coverage, to the extent that for medical emergencies you call your provider, as opposed to trying to reach a public ambulance. This sign reminds people of one of those private companies.
Art and Architecture
When I wasn’t walking through downtown, I took a couple minutes to check out some museums and churches.
One of the coolest exhibits I saw was from an artist that has lived in 20-something different places over the past 50 years, and decided to do a sketch of how it felt in each of the places in terms of his work, roommates, and relationships. They were all very different but shared the same style, and were accompanied by descriptions that provided a pretty intimate look into his life.
In Argentina one company has managed to start selling chocolate with the most mundane ingredient ever: air. Closely rivaling the folks in England that are selling fresh air from the English countryside.
I also saw one of the funniest not-allowed signs so far, a no-Crocs allowed sign on an escalator. Beating out the no-selfie stick sign in Paris.
I’ll admit that I have been eating at McDonald’s with some regularity while traveling, but that’s also cool because you can see the national variations that they’ll put on the menu or restaurant. In Argentina, the employees go full denim: hat, jacket, and pants are all the same classic blue.
For whatever reason the local city tour bus is sponsored by McDonald’s, so you can continue your sedentary lifestyle post-lunch as well.
I always appreciate those little signs on the street that really speak to you, like this one that says “you are here enjoy”.
10 days after I arrived, I left by attending an all-night dance party in an abandoned rock quarry outside of the city and rushing back to the hostel to catch my bus to Buenos Aires. Despite the fact that I still had plenty to see in Córdoba, it felt like the right way to leave with a bang.