The C Word

Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
Trip End Nov 29, 2014

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, March 3, 2014


It was touch and go whether we visited the Argentine Lake District's largest city, Bariloche. For every "wow, it's beautiful, you must go", there was a contradictory face-screw and a, "you won't like it".

We unearthed our stolen Lonely Planet from the depths of the Berghaus; hmmm, located on the shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi, one "can find it all in Bariloche".

Considered the capital of adventure tourism in Argentina, it was on route to Santiago, where we were set to fly from Easter Island too, in a couple of weeks time.

Now that our trip to Easter Island is imminent, we're unable to travel at such an unhurried, gentle pace. We have to crank it up a notch. Minimal planning, lax time-keeping and little direction seem to suit us. This first whiff of urgency has been exasperating and we headed into Bariloche aggravated by leaving both Futaleufu and El Bolson earlier than we'd have liked.

Maybe it was our mood and perhaps because we were hell bent on walking 3km from the bus station rather than take a taxi, but Bariloche sure was underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, there are chocolate shops, souvenir stalls and a modest array of log and stone buildings. However, there are infinite high-rise hotels and touts with humongous St. Bernards, enticing children to have their picture taken. The traffic heavy streets were lined with men shouting, "cambio, cambio". Were we back in Buenos Aires? A sad, grey hospital that wouldn't look out of place in Hackney stood tall close to our hostel. There was also a McDonalds. The dirty Golden Arches, where we shamefully sought sanctuary on hangover days.

I don't like to use the "c word". No intelligent person does surely. However, 'commercial' is pertinent in the description of Bariloche.

Any hostel would be luxury compared to our chewed up sleeping mats and bags. They smelt worse than the 6 week old camping dirty linen. With a great view over lake Nahuel Huapi from every room, Hostel Pudu was spacious, there was a bar, a garden, a BBQ, an awesome playlist blared, but best of all there was a giant fluffy cat.

Our weary bodies ached from the neck down, this hostel was perfect for what we wanted to do over the next few days... Nothing! In five of the six days we stayed in Bariloche, we did just that.

After pouring Argentina's two most pungent bags of clothes into a laundry basket, the brave woman behind the counter dug in deep, sorting it ungloved. Cringing, we walked off to indulge in a locally famous chocolate fondue. We drew some looks as I stepped out in a long black evening dress, which I certainly didn't wear whilst hitchhiking. Looking equally ridiculous in his pink swimming shorts that I'm positive have shrunk, David teamed with his bright pink football vest. He looked like a walking blancmange.

Not only did we walk in like we were attending a fancy dress party as Bassett's liquorice allsorts, but the waiter thought we were absurd for ordering a chocolate fondue and milkshakes, as a main course. Looking around, we felt a twinge of embarrassment as other diners tucked into their meat and wine. Chocolate fondue, a first for David; "do we pour it over the fruit?". Well, by the end of it you'd have thought I'd instructed him to pour it on his beard and his last remaining clean top.

Fondue is most definitely a dessert. We trudged through the tourist heavy aisles in the supermarket for some sausage and rice. All that fine cuisine in El Bolsón seems to have expanded our stomachs and appetite. This was clearly apparent at breakfast when we gorged on as much bread and cornflakes as we could manage. After several hours of sitting and eating, the hostel owner approached us, "you know guys, if you need to know about any of the hiking trails or anything, I can give you some info". We didn't budge.

We did partake on a bike ride with a few others from our dorm. The views were pretty, though some potentially awesome sights were thwarted by hotels and golf courses. Ace if you're Hornby, Connie and Matt Reeve doing the rounds in Carden Park before a night in Rosie's. However, when you're sat in the shadows of a church, one would like to enjoy the mountain behind the hotel. Commercial.

Things really spiced up when Hidde, a guy from Belgium we met in Brazil with the swedes, came to meet us. We hadn't seen him since Christmas at Iguazu. Joined by a young enthusiastic Dane, called Per, we set out on the laziest stay Bariloche has seen since Hitler (apparently) hid there decades before.

We skimmed stones on the beach, ate pizzas in the plaza, drank a hell of a lot and spent our hard earned black market dollar on fast food and kilo after kilo of ice cream.

The mere suggestion of a trek would have gone down faster than a pisco sour. We didn't even take a chairlift to Cerro companario, which according to national geographic is one of the top ten best views on the planet. Chairlifts... Pfft so commercial.

Bariloche was alright but for all the wrong reasons of course. With our backpacks heaving with freshly, pressed threads, a few pounds heavier and a Belgian joining us we are heading to actually do something in Pucon. Maybe.
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Carole jones on

Just love reading your blogs, interesting funny and informative. Stay safe and enjoy your amazing travels xxxxxxx

beardandblonde on

Ohhhh sounds like the perfect recipe to make a real life travel writer ;) xxxxx

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