I think the worst part is the bloody Camiones.
Argentina has no rail system to speak of when it comes to shipping freight (an interesting aside: all indications are that it used to; I am constantly coming across railway crossings, with the signs and everything, and rails still embedded in the roadway, but no rails on either side, just an overgrown right-of-way where it is clear that a railway used to run, but has not done for some time). So instead, the entire industry of the country relies on a neverending stream of trucks and semi-trailers plying the nation's highways. Now when a car or other private vehicle needs to pass me, no problem; there is plenty of room. But the trucks take up the entire lane, and then some (watching two of them pass each other on a particularly narrow stretch is sometimes a little cringe-inducing). Which means that I must pull off the road to let them pass. Except there is no shoulder, no nothing. There is typically a grassy verge on the side of the road, but it is often extremely soft, and I can't plod through that for more than a few metres. So I am brought to a halt until the truck passes and I can walk back onto the highway.
And there's a truck passing me by approximately once every 2-3 minutes.
So you can see how this frustrates any attempt to make decent time. Anyway. I made it to Junín fairly early. Unfortunately the next several towns are fairly small, and I didn't know what hotel availability would be like. In Carmen de Areco, there were two hotels in the whole town: when I arrived at 8:30, the first was completely full, and in the second (the aforementioned Hotel Isis), I managed to get the last available room in the place. None of the towns after Junín were even as big as Carmen de Areco, and I was unlikely to make it to any of them before about 8:00 at the earliest. So I decided the prudent thing would be to stop in Junín.
Junín is actually a decent-sized city (the largest since Buenos Aires), and I had my choice of places to stay.
- Every now and then, one comes across a town with a name that is decidely not Spanish. I can't even begin to imagine how they pronounce this.
- The hotel where I ended up staying had... "character"
- It was actually a historic hotel (or so went the claim) that was in the process of being renovated (or so went the claim). It was filled with antiques (or so went...).
- If nothing else, I think Junín had the nicest plaza of any town I've yet been in. (I never tire of them.)
- And the requisite impressive buildings lining same.
- The cobblestone streets — while annoying to navigate on the bike — were picturesque.
It was actually my original plan to stop in Junín on day 2 — hence Tuesday — anyway, before said plan went awry. The town is rather touristy, but it didn't take me long to decide I quite preferred the smaller, less-touristy places. Among other things, it was harder to find a decent parilla (although I did see a bunch on my way out of town the following morning; ah well) and instead decided to eat at a pizzeria. (Pizza being the 5th national culinary obsession, along with empanadas, helados (ice cream), Wiener schnitzel, and grilled meat.)
The "Especial" pizza I had — mozzarella, ham, green olives, roasted red pepper, oregano and anchovies — may not be appearing on a Canadian menu any time soon, but it was actually really good.
Tonight's wine: Bodegas Lopez Vasco Viejo Tinto 2010. One of the more downscale offerings from Bodegas Lopez. But I still rather liked it. Was pleasant enough and went well with the pizza.
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