Waking up on the morning of my Birthday is usually a fairly unpleasant affair due to the inevitable hangover from the previous night’s celebrating or, more recently commiserating. This birthday was no different in that waking up was indeed unpleasant, however this time the reason wasn’t a hangover, but because I had woken up on a bus.
This unfortunately isn’t a crazy anecdote of me getting hammered the day before my birthday and somehow ending up on a bus going somewhere I had never heard of. No, I was on a bus purposely and fully aware of my actions in order to get to Bariloche in Argentina. We had come from Colonia again in Uruguay after having spent one more night there, and was currently making our way to our destination via a 24 hour bus journey….on my Birthday!
To be honest, I had no issues with this as I knew that awaiting us in Bariloche was a fairly swanky hotel (compared to what we have been staying in on this trip), plus the promise of an Argentinian steak and a bottle or two of Malbec waiting for me, and so it was always going to end up being
Fortunately for us, the hotel made an exception when arriving, and let us enter the room before the 4pm check in time (Yes, 4pm!!??) and so we made instant use of the hotel by taking a swim in the pool, followed by relaxing in the Jacuzzi. The rest of the day was just how I pictured it, and we spent our time drinking wine and chilling out, followed by a beautiful meal, and some more red wine. Perfect!
Managing to avoid a hangover the next day was a bonus we wasn’t expecting, and so we set out on moving to our hostel that we would call home for the next few days. The hostel was clean, had great views of the lake and even boasted free breakfast and dinner!! So, after checking in and getting some information about Bariloche we set out on a walk around the town. Bariloche has a real ski resort feel about it which is weird as we have never actually been skiing, however it’s what we imagine one to look like. The buildings in the main square look very European and like something you would expect to find in Switzerland rather
than Argentina. Walking through the main drag you are immediately hit with a succession of treats like the smell of freshly made chocolate from the numerous chocolate stores in town, the St Bernard dogs with their liquor barrels around their necks along with the fantastic views across the lake. It really is a beautiful and scenic place, plus we seemed to have arrived at a great time as the sun was shining, and it was actually hot….not what we expected from North Patagonia at all! In the evening we sampled the hostels free dinner which was surprisingly nice and had an early night as we had a day of exercise ahead of us planned for tomorrow’s activity.
Having hired mountain bikes for the day, we were both ready and raring to hit the ‘Circuito chico’ circuit we had heard so much about from other travellers and the helpful receptionist at our hostel. The circuit itself is 36km all in, and involved riding up and down some crazy hills in order to view some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen in some time, perhaps ever. Whilst on the loop, for the first 6km or so we were accompanied
by an eager pooch that seemed to be competing against us as to who could get to the first viewpoint quickest. I think he may have actually won this battle if I’m honest, but to be fair, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t his first experience of the circuit!
During the bike trip, Donna and I came across the cute little town of Colonia Suiza, the swanky LLoa LLoa hotel alongside heaps of stunning viewpoints, and had a great time doing it. When we finally got to the end of the circuit feeling healthy and fit, we decided we needed to celebrate our triumph with an ice cold beer…. Pure heaven!
Our next day in Bariloiche was taken pretty easy. The main reason for this was because I needed to see the doctor about a headache at the back of my head that I had been suffering with on and off for a good 2 weeks, and felt that it needed checking out once and for all. It turned out to be an interesting visit due to our lack of Spanish along with no one in the Doctors surgery speaking a word of English! After we finally
saw a doctor though, she seemed to know what was wrong with me immediately. It seemed that carrying my backpack was causing my muscles to tighten and spasm, and this in turn was sending pains all the way to the back of my head where the nerves were, hence this annoying headache. So, to combat this, I was given some ridiculously strong Ibuprofen and ordered to not carry a bag for a while….Donna would be getting some exercise over the next week or two! That evening, we had a nice surprise when our friend Helen from the Inca trail told us she was in town with her Dad and sister, and so we went down to say Hi, have a drink and meet yet more of Helens family members (her Mum was also on the Inca trail!) I think we must be close now to getting family privileges and Christmas cards by now, and was great to see Helen once more.
For our final day in Bariloche, we decided to go see some more of this wonderful scenery on offer, and so made our way to Cerro Campanario. Here, they had a chairlift up to the top of a
mountain where the views of the surrounding areas were simply stunning. The chairlift itself was a little scary, and although getting better with heights, Donna and I were still a tad panicked on the way up. This was mainly due to height and the fact that the lift didn’t seem hugely safe, but also as we were worried of our Flip Flops falling off to the ground below! Once at the summit, we had ourselves a little lunch whilst admiring the views and basked in the serene peace and quiet of the place. This unfortunately only lasted 15 minutes or so though, and was quickly replaced with the buzz of a hedge trimmer in one ear, and the unnecessarily loud drone of 40 or so elderly American tourists in the other. Still, at least we had the view to take our minds off the noise.
By the end of our time in Bariloche, we had seen some of the most amazing views so far, had a great bike ride and had some really hot amazing weather. All this, plus my head was feeling better. So, after 5 days here, it was time to move on. Next stop was Southern
Patagonia – El Calafate where we were to meet some cold weather and our second friendly face from England…..
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