Nom nom nom!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
Trip End Dec 13, 2013

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What I did
Worlds biggest Easter egg

Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's all about the timing and we couldn’t have timed being in Bariloche any more perfectly if we had planned it. Bariloche is Argentina’s chocolate capital and at the time we were there they were holding a chocolate festival, and with It being Easter weekend I couldn’t think of a better place to be for the end of lent!

Bariloche is situated at the foot of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. Some say it is the top of Patagonia and others say it is the start of the Lake District. Since we saw a lot of lakes and it was infinitely warmer I’m going to go with the Lake District!

28th March – So today we had a very early start to get the 0645 bus which got us to Bariloche at 2100. We got dropped off in the middle of town and there were hoards of people everywhere and little kids all wearing bunny ears. Bariloche is a popular holiday resort for Argentines and other South American countries and this weekend the town was full! On the way to our hostel you could smell chocolate in the air, it was great. We got chatting to two Irish girls who told us there was a chocolate factory in front of our hostel and they told us about the festival and how they had just seen the world’s longest chocolate bar, which was 180 meters long! Had I died and gone to heaven?

With the town being at maximum capacity the hostel we had booked into had double booked and had sorted us out a room in the hostel opposite, not so nice but the room did have a good view out over the lake. We cooked some pasta for dinner when we heard Christians voice (I told you we would be seeing a lot of this guy). He was staying in a hostel up the road, but had come over to meet up with a friend he had met in Chile. We had a beer with him before calling it a night.

29th March – Today the weather was gorgeous so we headed out to explore the area. We got on a local bus to Llao Llao (pronounced chow chow) and did the hike up the hill. This hike was incredibly easy after what we had been used to and we were at the top in 20 minutes. The views over the lakes were really nice and we spent a few minutes here taking it in. We then walked to Villa Tacul, a nice lakeside beach, where we had hoped there would be food stalls as we had come out with no lunch. Unfortunately there was not and the whole area was unspoilt which was really nice not having to see a McDonalds on every corner.

Since we had completed what I thought would be a day’s walk in about an hour we decided we would carry on exploring the area and joined the circuito chico which was a 60km circular road with all the great views of the lakes and mountains. We stopped at many lake side beaches and saw a Roman bridge – those Romans got everywhere! We walked for hours and finally got to a bus stop on the other side of the circuit to which we started and waited for the bus.

When we got back to the town we went to centro civico where there was a humongous dome tent containing the world’s largest Easter egg. It was 8.5m/30ft high and contained 8 tonnes of chocolate. It smelt incredible and we had heard that on Sunday they would be breaking it into thousands of pieces and handing it out!

30th March – Today we were not so lucky with the weather and it was very overcast and due to rain. Since it didn’t look pretty and climbing any mountains wouldn’t give us any great views we spent the morning at the hostel catching up with photo uploads and diaries. At lunch time we headed in to town with a list of great chocolate shops to visit on the main street, although you were never too far from a chocolate shop in Bariloche. We went to Lonely Planet’s top picks of Mamucha, La Mexicana (the first chocolate store) and Rapa Nui which had been suggested to us by a guy we had met on the bus. In the end Rapa Nui was my favourite. It was very quaint inside and everything looked incredible. Thankfully, it was still lent otherwise I may have bought the whole shop. We bought a box of chocolates which contained a massive white chocolate flake and a massive milk chocolate flake. I had been eyeing these up in shops since El Calafate and was looking forward to eating them tomorrow. After being overwhelmed by all the chocolate we went in search of the towns best ice cream shop but unfortunately it started to rain and we were in summer clothes as it was laundry day so we rushed back to the hostel.

We went for an explore of the town in the evening and headed back to the main square where the festival was happening. There was a main stage where technicians were setting up for the 'Beatups’ – a South American Beatles tribute band. We waited around and watched them play 4 songs, only 2 of which I knew. They were very funny as they were 4 very typical looking Agentines - imagine 4 Lionel Messi’s dressed up in suits with a little more hair and guitars. It was very surreal. We then went and got a beer in one of the local après ski style pub/restaurants.

31st March – EASTER SUNDAY! – We headed down to the main square for about 10 o’clock where there were already massive crowds. The canvas of the dome tent had been removed so everybody could see the humongous egg. Two people got into a crane and were hoisted up to the egg with an axe in hand. The crowd then counted down from 10 and I think Garry and I were shouting the loudest as we were so happy we could count down from 10 in Spanish. At 0 the lady wacked the egg with the axe and then thousands of balloons and silver paper foil was released from the balconies, it was crazy, it felt like New Years Eve or something. We stood in the crowd and watched the egg for a while which now had men inside it whacking out chocolate from within on to a plastic sheet below. We soon realised we were not in the queue to get a piece of the egg and that it started on the main street. We stood in another crowd of people for more than 40 minutes. Nothing was moving and they weren’t letting anybody in the queue. It was such a ridiculous system and people soon started getting annoyed and pushing the crowd. Little kids started crying and one guy climbed under the barrier to get his kid out of the chaos. This barrier led to the queue for the egg so he gave everybody the idea to just crawl under it, so we followed suit and finally we got a handful of the egg and it was eggstremely good chocolate. All in all we were there for two hours but after chatting to some people later that day we heard that some people queued for 4 hours and that the queue went on for 10 blocks – we were lucky and though I hate pushing in, the system was so stupid that I’m glad we cheated.

We then thought we would make the most of the day and climb Cerro Otto, the mountain which overlooks the town. The weather still wasn’t great but after spending the day yesterday indoors we wanted to do something. The initial climb was very steep but over in 10 minutes. We followed the road along then to the gondola and took some pictures from the panoramic balcony. We had to sneak in as the charge for the gondala was £10ea. We didn’t want to get the gondola but did want to see the view – we were so bad ass today!

Our hearts weren’t really in the walk today so we headed on back to the town where we got a burger and some chips from the burger van – a good Sunday Easter roast would have rounded the day off perfectly!

Later that evening Christian messaged Garry inviting us around to his hostel for a couple of drinks. We went over and his hostel was really nice with a good bar, cool bar man and a pool table. We had a good laugh with him and his friends and had a game of pool with a couple of beers. The bar man also gave us a shot of herbal liquor which warmed the cockles. It was a nice way to end a nice stay in Bariloche.

So they were our antics from the Argentine Patagonia and we are now off to Chile where I’m sure there will be more tales to tell.

We are now half way through our trip of South America and we can’t believe how quickly it is going. Hopefully when we come back to London for 2 nights in June you guys will have lost the snow!

Hope you are all well, much love!

K x x x
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