I live in Brisbane but I love travelling overseas and spending time ‘living like a local’ in fascinating foreign cities. This year I took off to Cordoba, Argentina’s second largest city, for five weeks. I’m able to do this thanks to my career as a freelance writer. It means I can make money from just about anywhere on earth that has affordable accommodation and reliable WiFi.
I make my living by writing all sorts of things…articles…eBooks…product descriptions…brochures… Most years I make enough money so I only have to work two-thirds of the year. Just before I left for Argentina one of my clients asked me if I could write a bunch of articles for them, so I knew my laptop would get a good workout on the journey.
For me, Cordoba was a perfect choice for work and play–it’s safe, clean, friendly and affordable. I found a modern, comfortable fourth-floor apartment through AirBnB that worked out at less than $40 per night. (Many AirBnB stays offer a substantial discount if you book for longer than a month). My home-away-from-home was situated eight kilometres west of the city centre and boasted great WiFi, a washing machine, a rooftop sun deck and a small swimming pool…nice.
Within walking distance were fruit shops, supermarkets, butchers, bakeries and a gym that offered unlimited workouts for $34 a month. Getting into town was as easy as hopping on a bus or flagging down a taxi in front of my building. Despite its size, Cordoba has a relaxed, laidback charm. Plazas and parks fill up quickly with families on weekends and in the evenings.
One Saturday, I hopped on a double-decker tour bus leaving from the central plaza (San Martin). This is a handy way to check out the city’s impressive architecture. If you prefer to walk, it’s easy to visit attractions like the Cathedral, museums and heritage sites on foot. When all that sightseeing makes you hungry, grab a lunchtime empanada: tasty little pies filled with meat, cheese and vegetables costing less than $1.
For nightlife, head to the hip districts of Nueva Cordoba or Guemes where bars, restaurants, craft markets and antique shops line the streets. Be aware that Argentinean nightlife starts late. In Cordoba, the heavy partying doesn’t kick in until nearly midnight and some restaurants don’t even open before 9 p.m.
For outdoor lovers, Parque Sarmiento is the city’s main park, featuring free exercise equipment, lots of green spaces, a tranquil lake and all sorts of community activities happening on weekends.
From Cordoba, it’s convenient to take buses to surrounding areas for day trips. Within a few hours of the city there are some intriguing towns and natural wonders–and the buses are frequent and ridiculously cheap. Many locals hop in their cars on the weekend and head to the Sierras de Cordoba west of the city to sample food, wine and fresh air in Argentina’s second largest mountain range (after the Andes).
Here’s my top four day trips from Cordoba…
Villa Carlos Paz This pretty town is on the edge of a lake, which you can explore with a hired pedal-boat or kayak. It’s a bit touristy but a great town for shopping and strolling along the lake shore. Buses to Carlos Paz from Cordoba run every 30 minutes.
Capilla del Monte If you want a day trip with a difference, visit this pleasant country town, famous for its rugged desert scenery and the occasional UFO sighting. The huge dam just outside of town offers impressive panoramic views.
Mina Clavero Farther from the city, Mina Clavero features underground caves, waterfalls, river scenery and excellent hiking. If you want to ‘get away from it all’, this is the spot. The wilderness in this part of Argentina has everything… mountains, deserts, forests, lakes and rivers.
Villa General Belgrano A visit here is like magically transporting yourself to a quaint alpine village in Bavaria. The German influence is everywhere–you can even order apple strudel in the local cafes! Visit some of the local wineries, hike along a lake or explore the peaceful valleys by bicycle.
My entire five-week trip to Cordoba (including return airfares, accommodation, food, sightseeing, taxis and all other expenses) cost me around $4,200. But I did $6,700 worth of copywriting work while staying there, so my profit on the trip was $2,500. Sometimes, being a jet-setting copywriter isn’t a bad life at all…
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