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Published: January 20th 2009
Day 642 (31.12.08)
The last day of 2008 and we thought it best to have a relaxed day in preparation for a big night to celebrate the New Year. We set out with Henry and Kate to explore the town of Bariloche and after a quick visit to the info centre found that no celebrations were planned in town for the night. A little disappointed that we wouldn't get to see 2009 in with fireworks we made sure we knew where the local nightclubs were so we could dance the night away instead.
We explored the town which sits on the shore of the huge Nahuel Huapi Lake and is surrounded by snowy mountains giving lovely views from the lakefront. We took in the pretty swiss style plaza and then discovered the main attraction to Bariloche town...chocolate! Over the next couple of hours we visited as many chocolate shops as we could without being sick and watched chocolates being made, sampled a few scrummy tasters, bought a small box of treats and visited what Kate thought was possibly the best place in the world - a chocolate supermarket! This place was huge and we wandered with awe through huge
piles of chocolate boxes - wow! As well as chocolate it also sold wine, ice-cream, cheese, smoked fish and salamis, cakes and beer. We wondered whether it would be ok to move in.
A quick trip to the (normal) supermarket saw us kitted out for a feast to be accompanied by plenty of drinks. After a visit to the internet cafe to speak to our families, 3 hours ahead of us, and wish them a Happy New Year we had a great meal of bangers and mash, drank suitable amounts of alcohol and popped the cork on a couple of bottles of bubbly as the clock struck 12! Happy New Year to all, hope 2009 is a great one!
Ready to kick the party up a notch we hit the town and visited one of Bariloche's nightclubs to throw some shapes on the dancefloor. The cheesy spanish music had us dancing our best moves and we had a great time seeing the new year in in Latin American style.
At 4 am it was time for us to head back to the hostel for a spot of tea and toast before bed.
Day 643 (1.1.09)
It was 11am before we dragged our sorry butts out of bed and we chilled out in the hostel watching some terrible movies for a few hours before we decided that some fresh air would be good.
Right on the lakefront is the town's municipal open air swimming pool and that seemed the perfect place to spend the rest of our afternoon. A rather unusual entrance procedure involving two rubber-gloved ladies checking our hair and feet ensued befroe we were deemed as suitable swimmers and allowed to enter the pool area.
The four of us spent several hours sitting with our books in the hot sun and working up the courage to go for an occasianl swim in the pool which was close to glacial temperatures! Nevertheless it was a great way to start the new year.
We hadn't been prepared for the shops to be shut today (ok call us stupid on that one!) but we managed to find a small corner shop open and cobbled together the ingrediants to make some pizzas which we enjoyed in front of some more films before a fairly early night.
Day 644 ( 2.2.09)
We'd had a
very lazy time of it over christams and new year and thought it was about time we did some exercise. So today we took the bus out to km 18,300 (unusual bus stop names here!) with Kate and Henry and hired some bikes to cycle the Circuito Chico or small circuit which would take us around the lake, Lago P.Moreno Oeste and past what we'd heard were some superb views.
We set off on the bikes at around 10.30am and before we knew it were passing a beautiful lake on our left and cycling across the bridge between the east and west parts of Lago Moreno which opened up lovely views across to snowdusted mountains and clear blue-green waters in all directions.
Over the next few hours we had a fantastic time cycling the undulating road around the circuit. By undulating what we mean is long uphill stretches that required some sections of bike pushing for some of us (no names mentioned!) and awesome long stretches of winding downhill where you kept your fingers off the brakes for as long as you dared and felt the exhilarating rush of the wind in your face.
We took a
brief detour off road to visit the cute but touristy village at Colonia Suiza and stopped for a while to take in the glorious views at Punta Panoramico. The tree filled shapes of the peninsula jutting into the blue waters of the lakes all backed by snowtopped moutains looked just like the cover of a box of swiss chocolates. By the time we reached Bahia Lopez, a channel between the west Moreno lake and the Nahueni Huapi Lake, we were ready for lunch. The temperature was rising and we thought the clear waters of the channel looked extremely inviting for a cooling dip. Sadly we hadn't thought to bring our swimmies but there weren't many people about so we decided a bit of pant swimming shouldn't cause too much offense. The water was chiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllly and the stony bottom sharp on the feet but it felt delicious to cool off in the water.
We ate our picnic lunch as we dried off in the sun and were soon back on the bikes to continue on our way passing verges sprinkled with wild flowers as we alternately struggled uphill or zoomed down. The views throughout the entire ride were fantastic, we
had gorgeous weather and we'd had a superb day by the time we arrived panting up the last hill to return our bikes.
After the bus trip back to town we left Kate and Henry at the hostel to freshen up as we hit the supermarket. We'd all looked longingly at the fondue restaurant in town everytime we'd passed it so thought we'd make our own to save some money. An extremely tasty fondue feast filled the rest of the evening and we fell into bed exhausted and satisfied after our busy day.
Day 645 (03.01.09)
With the slightly aching legs of the cycling we woke a little the worse for wear and had a feast for brekie. Wanting to continue the good work we had started we had planned a day walking.
A bus ride later saw us arrive in a ski town at Cerro Catedral. It was a stunning purpose built ski resort which with the lack of snow looked a little bare but stunning. We weren't sure where we would walk to but from where we were the only way was up. The legs grumbling at the prospect of a 3 hour up
hill slog we bought tickets for the ski lifts to take us to the top. That saved us some pain!
Arriving with a running landing from a chairlift (not quite the same without skis) we followed a trail across and up to one of the passes over the range. As we came up and over the pass the view that greeted us was a stunner and one which made the chairlift sitting and short stroll well worth while.
Admiring the views, with a little swatting of some pesky and persistant bugs, we started back down the way we had come. Veering off on another direction we continued to traverse the hillside toward the imposing lake view from the mountain. After stopping for a picnic bite to eat at a closed mountain restaurant (well they had kindly left all their seats out for us) we climbed to another viewpoint which simply took our breath(s) away. With a 180 degree view that would rival any we have had on the trip, we looked over lakes, mountains, villages, forest and it was all capped of by some huge (we speculated Condor) birds rising and descending on the thermals created by the
diverse landscape. Wow!
Deciding we had better drag ourselves away from the view and start the walk back to town, we picked a track and started walking. Going was a little tough with the knee pounding descents and made even more tricky with the pathways shale surface slipping away from you on every other step.
We pushed on with the aim of picking up our chosen bus back to town. Unfortunately with no real idea which way we were to walk we may have taken a slightly longer route missing out on the bus by a good half an hour. Looking on the bright side this did leave us with the perfect amount of time for a beer before the next one arrived. Nice planning!
Back at the hostal Henry and Kate cooked us a great dinner before we finished packing ready to leave the following morning.
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