Friday, August 29, 2014

Bariloche

My next destination was the Patagonia region, arguably one of the world's most beautiful places. Last time I was here I was a lot further south and it was breathtaking. I was supposed to come to Bariloche, but that stupid volcano in 2011/12 fucked up my itinerary and basically covered the whole town in ash, paralysing the local tourism industry for about a year. Rude!

All good this time though. I checked in for my flight in Mendoza and an hour or two later I was there. 

This wanted poster up at the airport amused me. I like that the dude's last name is Lawless. Seems appropriate.


Flying into Bariloche.


The temperature is a lot cooler here. To give you some idea, it's basically at the same latitude as Wellington, NZ, so it's pretty far south. That means if you're in the shade and a crisp breeze rips though it's not that pleasant. Especially when you've gotten used to >35C every day.

While there are a lot hostels in Bariloche you can't just turn up and hope to get a bed. This place is super busy and you need to book ahead well in advance, especially in peak summer and winter (ski) seasons.

Bariloche is beautiful. It has a strong German influence, which makes sense since they were the ones who first settled here. Let's just ignore the fact that many of them were Nazis escaping from Germany after the war... 





Bariloche is a chocolate lovers dream. Half the shops here are chocolate shops. This is just a small selection.  





Annoyingly, pretty much all of them only make chocolate with milk but I did find one that had some dairy-free options. 

I went here a lot. It's one of the reasons I had to change more money.


Here's some amusing signs.



This sign is a lie. Despite getting my hopes up there is no marmite, or vegemite, or any other kind of yeast-based 'mite' product in Argentina.



On my first day I did a half day tour of the lake. This included going up a chair lift for an amazing view.






Er, you wouldn't catch me swimming in this freezing cold glacial water!



I believe this is the most expensive hotel in the area. I think it's where celebrities stay when they come here.


There are quite a few veggie places In Bariloche. However, most of them aren't open on a Sunday, which is really inconvenient. However, lots of regular places do pizzas and pasta, so you can get something without cheese easily enough. I also saw a Mexican place that looked quite good but again, it was not open on a Sunday.

I loved Covita, which is basically all vegan except for one fish dish on the menu for the unconverted. Also, that is fresh juice not coke.



Just after I ordered, a couple from Zurich came in and I ended up having lunch with them. Afterwards I showed them a (mostly) vegan bakery I'd found earlier.


We were super excited about this place since they bake a wide variety of breads, empanadas, biscuits/ cookies etc., all egg and dairy free! Perfect for stocking up on snacks for day trips. 

The following day (since I was appropriately armed with baked goods), I booked a full day tour to Mt Tronador and the Black Glacier. The scenery was amazing.


The water in these lakes is so clear and an amazing shade of blue that you only seem to get from glaciers.



  

Mt Tronador. I love how you can see the thickness of the glacier. So much ice and snow!



Then it was on to the Black Glacier, which is behind me.



I think it's black cos of the high volcanic activity in the area, which basically causes ash and dirt to get mixed up with the ice. You can see a broken off bit here. It's pretty cool.


Our last stop of the day was the Cascata Garganta del Diablo. It was nice.


It was an amazing day trip. I really enjoyed it.

I ended up staying in Bariloche an extra day since everyone told me that Puerto Montt on the Chilean side of the border was boring. While this was a good decision from a tourist perspective, it meant I now had my longest bus journey yet ahead of me.

So on my third night I went to bed at a reasonable time since I had to be at the bus station at 7.30am. The three guys in the room came in late, pissed, making heaps of noise, and then left again leaving the lights on. Yeah, thanks for that.

Then the other Aussie girl in the upstairs bit near me comes in pissed at 6.15am. I was getting ready to leave. She's like "wow, you're up really early". I'm like "no, this is actually a normal getting up time, you're getting in really late". She seemed confused by this. Then she climbed into the wrong bed. I thought about telling her that wasn’t her bed then decided she could deal with it when she sobered up later. To get the guys back, I turned all the lights on and noisily left the room. It's always satisfying when you can take revenge on inconsiderate room mates.

At the bus station, I met up with my vegan friends Caroline and Ulrich since they were also heading to Chile. They were renting a van on the other side of the border to do some camping, so I donated the last of my emergency vegan food I'd been carrying around, and Argentinian pesos to them.

The journey is about six hours and one of the nicer ones given the beautiful scenery. It's a bit weird that Chile's immigration is 17km away from Argentina’s though.




As mentioned previously, Chile has strict quarantine laws. Caroline, Ulrich and I had our empanadas and biscuits from the bakery in Bariloche but they were all fine. I ate all my fruit on the bus but the dogs still smelt it in my bag so it got searched. The other two had dried fruit and some nuts in theirs. Clearly these are considered weapons of mass biological destruction and they weren’t allowed to bring them in.

At Puerto Montt we said good bye and I went in search of a night bus to Santiago. Since this was going to be my last night bus, I splurged and got the deluxe bus for twice the price as all the others. Being Chile, this was actually quite expensive.

I had a few hours to kill so I went for a walk. Puerto Montt seemed kinda dodgy but it may have been cos I was near the bus station. I didn't make it to the city centre. Everyone along the seafront kept asking me for money. And they weren’t homeless, poor looking people either. One guy had a suit on! I didn't like it and headed back into the bus station to watch tv on my laptop for the rest of the afternoon. 

I'm glad I took everyone's advice and didn't stay here. 


Next stop: my final stop and LAST blog entry, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

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