Coffees in Córdoba, Argentina
Córdoba is a great place to sit over a steaming cappucino and watch the world go by. Well-heeled students strut up and down the bustling cobbled streets or lounge in one of the town’s many plazas, oblivious it seems to the imposing churches and cathedrals by which they spend their days gossiping, arguing and making up (but mostly making out). The city’s many churches span the spectrum of European architecture – from simple brick structures rinsed in pink paint to a cavernous temple whose wooden roof resembles an inverted ship’s hull.
In keeping with the mish-mash theme, Córdoba’s primero house of worship is a blend of several different architecture styles that reflect the trends of a dozen different decades. From the Romanesque dome begun in 1577 to the more modern paintings inside, the Iglesia Catedral is something to be witnessed. In fact, if you squint with one eye and close the other, it is possible to mistake Córdoba’s boutiques, cafés and architecture for a little slice of Europe.
Once the Cultural Capital of the Americas, Córdoba is a hive of activity with concerts, art exhibitions and theatrical performances covering every second of every day. Unfortunately for us the only tango lessons running during our time there were for intermediate level dancers and although Paul was pretty confident in his dancing skills (they teach the tango in mechanic school now don’t you know?) we had to conceed that it would be Buenos Aires before we hit the tiles. Still, Córdoba has a lot to offer so once we had drained our coffees and bid adieu to those far-too-perfect boots we couldn’t afford to buy we had to choose a daytrip. Would it be rocking Cosquin, resorty La Falda, pious Jesús María or Villa Carlos Paz, dubbed by Lonely Planet as “The Vegas of the Sierras”?
As it turns out we opted for none of the above. After hearing a little about Alta Gracia it was clearly our only option. A quiet mountain town set around a lake, with a two storey cuckoo clock, founded by the Jesuits and once home to Ché Guevara? Cha-ching!
Our first stop was the town’s central focus – the old Jesuit mission. A quick walk around revealed fully-furnished bedrooms, an ornate living room, old drop toilets, a cattle shed and a flaking white basilica. Still, as charming as it was we were starving so lunch took precedence and we lucked out with a fantastic foodhall where we got… Drum roll please…. Real salad!
With full bellies and happy digestive systems we set out for the main event. The Ernesto “Ché” Guevara museum. Set in the middle of a housing estate in a small one-storey building that once housed the Guevara clan, Alta Gracia’s Ché Guevara museum is said to be miles better than the Cuba version. Displays are focused mostly on the revolutionary’s early life, showcasing baby photos and explaining how as a child, although he was affected with asthma and thus forbidden to swim, Ché and his brother used to sneak into a nearby hotel to learn how to paddle. Onto the teens next and we learned (having never really known a lot about the great legend we were learning a lot) about Ché’s medical training and the many trips around South America that opened his eyes to human suffering. Perhaps the crowning glory of the museum is the actual motorbike he rode on one such journey which sits proudly on display in a bedroom.
Of course no museum could be complete without the full story so there are several rooms dedicated to photos of Ché and Fidel Castro, photos of Ché with various guerilla groups and letters he handwrote to his parents, to Castro and later in life, to his second wife and children urging them to be good citizens. A charming addition to an already comprehensive collection was the original Guevara kitchen in all it’s vintage glory.
There are more photos from Córdoba and Alta Gracia available in the gallery