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Published: March 2nd 2016
R : On Sunday, we took a bus back to Chile across the Argentinian border. We said goodbye to Pablo and our great Airbnb in Bariloche and headed for the bus station. We were quite sad to be going really. The bus took about 6 hours, and headed around the lake to some pretty towns and beaches, before heading through the Andes to the Argentinian border. We got chatting to a Danish and German girl who had brought their weight in cheese onto the bus, knowing that Chilean border security are hotter than Australian customs on foreign muck being brought into their country. They had been to El Bolson which is famous for its cheese. Anyway, the upshot is they had too much cheese and we're sharing it around the bus, and it was better than most of the Argentinian cheese we have had.
Argentinian immigration was swift, and we headed 30km on to Chilean immigration, all the time stuffing our faces with all the food we had left. This would have been fine, except the bus provided a fairly sumptuous lunch of stuffed chicken breast, cheese and tortilla so we all felt a bit sick when we crossed over.
We were instructed to put our bags on the ground, and they were given the once over by a friendly looking Labrador. His owner wasn't quite on the ball though, as when the Labrador sniffed some cake, wrapped in a piece of kitchen roll, he hooked it out of the bag, and had nearly eaten it (disregarding all the other bags) before the guard noticed it. Sadly he got a clip on the nose for that one.
We arrived in Puerto Varas at early evening time with a fantastic view of its lakeside location and twin volcanoes that overlook the town. We headed straight for our hostel which was very agreeable, but over some train tracks near a spooky abandoned train station. And far up a hill - Cate points out. We put the bags down, and headed for town. We found a charming little cafe with a good menu and ordered a burrito and quesadilla. No, none of that today. How about a salad? No. How about a glass of wine? Nope, sorry. Pasta? Sorry. We ended up with a Caiparinia made with lemons and two burgers, whose lower bun was incinerated to charcoal. We trundled home, and
Historic German building
(That wasn't even on the walking tour)
felt initially disappointed in Puerto Varas.
Puerto Varas is quite attractively situated and has a lake side position, quite smart town centre and is quite well on the tourist trail really. We actually came to like it a lot while we were here. It has lots of amenities, but not a lot to do but wander round the town. There are some waterfalls and lagoons nearby, but we didn't have the transport to get to those.
The next morning it was very cloudy - not what we had been used to in Argentina. We had a good walk around the lake in the light drizzle. Next we visited tourist information, whose sole purpose, I believe, is to give tourists the wrong information (in common with other Chilean tourist info places), then we went looking for bus tickets. Puerto Varas has German roots and they are very proud of their German style churches and building, so much so, they have created a historic walking tour for tourists. This took us past some great buildings, none of which were on the map, to some rubbish looking old tin houses, that for some reason were listed as interesting, So we gave
up on the route, and headed up to a viewpoint over the city. The viewpoint had a zip line, a giant cross, but no real view of the city. Its a nice place - but it doesn't seem to know its own assets. We headed out for dinner (no kitchen in this hostel - but one of the best breakfasts I have had in a hostel ever!), armed with TripAdvisor to avoid choosing a rubbish place again, And then we were bad. We ended up in a smart Fish restaurant overlooking the lake, and spent the most we have on food since the start of the trip. Oh well. It was delicious.
That evening, we met Frederick, a kindly old man, who runs a car hire "firm" - a friend of the family who ran our hostel. He had brought us a beaten up Chevrolet Sail, our steed for the next 3 days on Chiloe. He pointed out all the flaws of the vehicle, including how the internal lights don't work, and why the "check oil" light is permanently illuminated. We were pre warned and he explained it was so scratched because of his dogs. Well that was good
for us as he said about the insurance "no boom - no problem" and punched his fist. He took the time (over an hour) to Google translate everything for us. But we did get stuck on one sentence "The Bear sleeps in the house tonight?", as he looked earnestly at us. We tried not to snigger.
The next day, we headed off to Chiloe, to come back 3 days later. When we arrived back, it was raining a lot, so we positioned ourselves in a cafe to do some planning for New Zealand. This place was great, and allowed us to repeatedly order espresso and tapas as we saw fit.
In the afternoon, we did a little boat tour of the lake. Not that exciting, but since the day we arrived, the cloud had been so low, we had not seen the volcanos again. Hence the lack of pictures. The lake tour didn't enlighten us, but we did get a free Pisco sour.
For dinner we went to a Pizza and beer place. I chose from the extensive beer menu. All but one of them were out, but she left me go through them ordering each one
before telling me it was out. Our Pizza arrived. Then our starter. Then a salad. Then another dulpicate starter.
What is with the food in this place?
Overall, we came to think of Puerto Varas as very sweet, and again, we were sad to go when it was time. It has a sort of charm about it that we didnt feel with Chiloe. Nothing exciting much happens here, but it's still worth a visit. We took a bus to Pucon in the north of the Lake District, and that's where we will pick up next...
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