Our arrival in Bariloche was marked with disappointment when we found out our accommodation had been double booked. Luckily for us, we were given an apartment for the same price, due to the error. Having shared bathrooms and kitchens for 3 months now, we got a giddy thrill from having our own fridge and microwave...if only for a few days! Bariloche is located in the lake district of Patagonia, and is quite frankly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.The lake district is the holiday region for the Argentinians, so it was a perfect choice to settle down for couple of days R&R before our flight to El Calafate.
The town sits on the shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi, and is surrounded by snow capped mountains and the lush scenery of the national park. The architecture of the town is modelled on an alpine town, I´m currently sitting in an internet cafe which resembles a log cabin. Quite bizarre! The town if famous for its ski resort and its chocolate. Given that its the middle of summer we didn't get far with the skiing, but we had a bit of the gander in the chocolate shops. One
of them, La Turista, is as big as the supermarket here and has checkouts to match! The chocolates are delicious, I was particulaly impressed with the baileys chocolate which was a hollow chocolate egg with a baileys shot inside!
We went for a long walk along the lake to try and take in some of the views. It´s hard to believe that it is a lake. Its extremely windy here, so the water is very choppy and coupled with the rocky beaches and feels like you´re walking along a seafront. Beautiful as it was, for Luke, it was no Bray head...
In Bariloche, we went to the Parilla for dinner and it was time for Luke to partake in extreme meat eating. He ordered the Bife de Chorizo. What was presented was what could only be described as a lump of meat. It was practically the size of football! It was so rare it looked like it had been chopped off the cow and put straight on the plate. The accompanying side plate of chips could have fed a famine. Needless to say he was very happy with his purchase and received admiration from fellow diners for actually
For New Years we moved to the Patagonian town of El Bolson. Due to the reintroduction of daylight savings time in Argentina, we managed to miss our bus. We felt pretty stupid about it to boot as we were pretty confused about why our watches were suddenly wrong! In our defense it takes a while to manage to understand the Spanish for there was a time change which obviously we had known nothing about!! We eventually got there as luckily it was only about 2 hours away. El Bolson is far smaller than Bariloche, but any ideas we had of a quiet New Years were quashed when we arrived in our hostel. Our hostel was full to the brim of Argentinian holiday makers (I saw people using hairdryers for the first time in months!!) and our names were instantly added to the big Feliz Anos Asado (bbq to you and me!).
Before the big new years bash, we set off on a hike up Cerro Piltriquitron, the strange dinosaurs shaped mountain which over looks the town. First stop on the trail was Bosque Tallado, a sculpture park created half way up the mountain which contained some
very nice and then some very strange sculptures carved out of wood. Next was the refugio where we had a picnic and then continued on the 2 hour hike to the summit. We didn't quite make it to the summit as it was surrounded by clouds, but the views were still fantastic. The walk back to the town was 11k but we made it just in time to pick up some New Years goodies from the shops.
The bbq in the hostel was wonderful. We were informed that New Years in Argentina is predominately a family affair, and a lamb asado is the traditional way to celebrate. They certainly had enough lamb, a whole one in fact - legs and all! There was lots of wine and champagne and tons of food. There were a couple of english speakers so we a laugh. At midnight everyone was outside, with the fireworks going off as we stood around the bonfire. It was a great way to ring in the new year! Needless to say we didn´t achieve a whole lot of New Years day. We wandered around the town of El Bolson. It is an odd little town. It was
over-run by hippies in the sixties and everywhere sells homebrew beer and homemade jam! We managed to get ridiculously burnt and now resemble two shiny tomatoes but we sampled some of Patagonia´s most famous ice-cream to cheer ourselves up. It was very good!
We were actually quite sad to leave El Bolson. The scenery was fantastic and the hostel we stayed in was definately one of our favourites. We are now back in Bariloche grabbing some supplies for our flight down south tomorrow. Happy New Year!
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