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Published: June 17th 2017
We arrived at San Rafael at 6.20am. It was a bit early to try and find somewhere for breakfast so we decided just to stay at the bus station and read. All went well for about an hour or so, when some old guy decided that out of all the deserted seating he needed to sit right by us, and listen to his crappy music on his crappy phone. As I've mentioned a million times, playing sound on your phone speaker is a surefire way to get me to mutter a curse of painful death upon you. The world is loud enough. Use some f*!&ing headphones!
After moving, we read a bit more before heading to the hotel about 9am. We'd both slept a little on the bus and didn't feel too bad, but we were still over the moon when they unexpectedly showed us straight to the room. Hotel Francia was quite nice. Nothing flash but a large room and a communal garden area. We freshened up then went on the hunt for breakfast.
Walking through San Rafael we were quite impressed. It was busier with more shops than I'd imagined. The cafe I'd earmarked
was a bit of a walk away, and actually it was nearer lunchtime by the time we found it. La Delicia del Boulevard was not cheap, but the quality was worth it. I had the most delicious chicken and avocado baguette and David had a lomito. Both were really good, as was the coffee.
Just across from the cafe was Parque Municipal Hipolito Yngoyen. It was a lovely sunny day so we spent a while there before wandering back to town. Only to discover that all the shops were closing. Seems that Saturday is a half day around these parts. We sat in Plaza San Martin and took advantage of the free wi-fi to confirm my nagging suspicion... yep, shops and more importantly bodegas (the main reason for visiting San Rafael) shut Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday. Bugger. We did find one potential bodega open on a Sunday. In the meantime there was little to do but find a bar and order a bottle of local wine. Kindly they gave us some complimentary cheese and olives. Sitting in the sunny courtyard was almost like being in a bodega.
Back at the hotel we relaxed before choosing somewhere
for dinner. No surprise, we wanted steak. La Gringa did not look fancy, but was welcoming and had a big parilla on the go, good enough for us. It proved to be a good choice. Tasty steak, a good Malbec, and a bill of less than £30. We would have popped for a beer afterwards, but everywhere was shut. We couldn't even buy one to drink in the garden area as we discovered Argentinian licencing laws prevent buying alcohol to takeaway after 11 p.m. Frankly this seems madness in a country where people don't go out to eat until after 10pm.
The next day we had breakfast, booked the next hotel, and bought bus tickets for the onward journey. With little else to do, we went back to the park from the day before. At least the sun was shining. We sat and read for a bit, a dog coming to join us. It was all very relaxing. Then we went in search of one of the only local bodegas open on a Sunday. Except when we got there, it wasn't. Even the cafe's in town were shut, and of course the shops were shut too. With absolutely no
more ideas we made our way back to the hotel. Luckily for us they sold a local wine in reception. So we grabbed a bottle and sat in the garden doing a bit of research on Chile.
We chose La Maquina for dinner as it had good reviews. Yes, were were going for steak two nights running. We were very nearly put off by the fact that the waiters were dressed in train conductors outfits. Look, I know it's opposite the old train station, but really. No need. They looked liked total dicks, poor guys. At one point four of them were standing in a row and I fully expected them to launch into a Chippendale's routine. Anyway, our waiter managed to overcome the embarrassing outfit and was really nice, seeming genuinely interested in where we were from and whether we liked Argentina. It was a lovely meal. Slightly posher than La Gringa, but also slightly more expensive. Still reasonable though. We both had the bife de chorizo this time. The last couple of times I've tried different cuts of steak, but this is my favourite. Obviously we also had another nice local Malbec, pretty much the law in
We've not found much to do during our stay, but drink wine. Which has been hell as you can imagine. San Rafael is a really nice little town. I would recommend it for a night or two. Just don't make the mistake we did and come at the weekend when everything is shut.
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