North of Neuquén this emptiness is called the Pampa, south of here it is Patagonia. Both are flat, featureless and dry but Patagonia is somewhat more arid than the Pampa.
Most of the Pampa is only good for grazing cattle but some parts closer to the Atlantic get enough rain to grow wheat and soya They are known as the humid pampa.
Bahia Blanca, an attractive city of 300 000, some 520 km east of Neuquén enjoys a good location and a fine natural harbour.
Plaza Rivadavia in the heart of the city honours Bernardino Rivadavia who, favouring a strong central government, opposed the federalists striving for provincial autonomy in the 19th century.
Here, I had the good fortune of knowing Diego Promenzio, a young architect with whom I had been exchanging e-mails for a year. Diego took me around town to see the sights beginning with the university shown here.
Bahia Blanca is not very large but it has a fine municipal theatre for its size.
Although small, Bahia Blanca has been the seat of considerable economic power as evidenced by its impressive barrios ricos and this elite clubhouse.
Had it not been for Diego's help, I would not be able to show you this overall view of Bahia Blanca.
We visited the port of which a small part is shown in this panorama. That's Diego standing on the right.
And the maritime museum in the port area (which is better avoided after sundown).
Having similar tastes, travel, good food and good wine, we got along fine!
This was taken in the restaurant El Mundo de la Parrilla which I can recommend wholeheartedly. Naturally we gorged on mountains of beef and lamb!
It's no wonder Argentineans eat mountains of meat. It is the best in the world and it's so cheap! Here, the butcher across the street from his brother Sergio's apartment advertises filet mignon and roast beef at 5.40 and 4.49 pesos a kilo (0,87 & 0.72 $US a pound)
The next day Diego and I visited the town of Sierra de la Ventana where he was building a vacation house for one of his clients. Sierra de la Ventana is a fashionable resort town in the hills a hundred km north of Bahia Blanca where people who can afford it flee the summer heat.
It was only natural for an architect to show me the region's architectural highlights of which the most spectacular was the monumental cemetery gate of Saldungaray village designed by Salamone.
We also stopped to visit the Tornquist church shown below. Ernesto Tornquist, a businessman born in Argentina of German origin, made a huge fortune at the end of the 19th century and gave the land where the town that bears his name is built.
After a most pleasant visit I took the bus for Santa Rosa. Less than an hour out of Bahia Blanca the diesel's injection pump blew a gasket and we had to wait a couple of hours for another bus to pick us up.
The delay gave me the opportunity to take this sunset. I finally got to Santa Rosa around midnight and found a place to sleep near the bus terminal.