Published: January 21st 2013December 27th 2012
We’re leaving Villarrica today and heading from the northern end of the Lakes District to the southern end. A little while after hitting the road, we reach Highway 5 again and begin driving south at 120 km/hour (at least that’s the posted speed limit). The sky is clear and blue, the sun is shining, and traffic is light so it’s a nice day to be driving.
About three hours later, as we get close to our first stop at Frutillar on Lago Llanquihue we see in the distance first Volcán Puntiagudo (literally sharp point because the top is pretty pointy) and then Volcán Osorno. The Frutillar exit from Highway 5 (like all exits) is well marked and we get off. Kris uses the map app on the smartphone and does a good job navigating us through the streets to Frutillar (technically Frutillar Bajo or Lower Frutillar since it’s right down on the shore of Lago Llanquihue while Frutillar Alto or Upper Frutillar is just off the highway and up the hill from the lake). We stop here for lunch but first a few pictures of the nice little pier and Volcán Osorno in the distance on the other side of the lake.
Frutillar is a neat, picturesque little town and very much influenced by the Germans who settled in this area. Signs of this influence are everywhere, from the architecture of many of the buildings particularly hotels and restaurants, to the Club Alemán (German Club, which I’m not sure is an actual club or just a restaurant) and even a museum (partially sponsored by the German government) which highlights the history of the German settlers in the area. There’s also an annual music festival here every January which is a main event in the town and apparently a pretty big deal because the music hall is very nice and there are little reminder commemorations all over town, like sculptures in the shape of a piano and of a music note along the lakeshore.
Rather than head back to Highway 5 for the quick route to Puerto Varas, we decide to take the lake road. It’s slower going but well worth it, especially since the weather is nice and the sky is clear. The views of the lake, volcano and the countryside are very nice. I take advantage of the lack of traffic and stop to take pictures along the way, these views are too good to miss. We eventually reach the end of the lake road and have to get back to Highway 5 but it’s only for a few minutes since we reach the exit for Puerto Varas almost right away.
At Puerto Varas we stop so the kids can play a bit on the little beach by the lake while Kris gathers all kinds of helpful tips on activities from the tourist information building right there. After about an hour we’re back on the road toward Ensenada looking for the Onces y Cabañas Bellavista at km 34. We’ve heard about the Once, a custom in the area that was brought over by the Germans and is similar to an English high tea with all the sandwiches and pastries. Along with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, there is a mountain of thick slices of bread, salmon salad, egg salad, cheeses, crackers and cakes. Besides the excellent food, the views over the lake make you just want to sit and relax, lingering with a cup of coffee and piece of cake. The experience was definitely worth stop.
We realize it’s getting late and we don’t really have exact directions to our accommodations, the Tres Rios Lodge, which is more a private fishing lodge than a hotel, inn or bed & breakfast. I didn’t think that would be a major problem since there really wasn’t too much out in that area and we could easily ask for directions. We saw a sign for another B&B at the kilometer marker we were looking for so passed by and then a few kilometers further up the road we asked at a small convenience-type store for directions but they hadn’t heard of the place we were looking for. We decided to take the turn-off toward the other B&B but didn’t see anything along that road so we stopped at that B&B and asked directions. It turns out that we were in the right spot, and had actually turned around in the drive leading up to our lodging without knowing it. To make matters worse, on this narrow gravel road off the main road we had passed the owner heading back to the B&B he owns in Puerto Varas because we were arriving later than he’d anticipated. Anyways, we finally got into our cabin around 9:30 or so that night, the end of a long day.