Getting There And Away Is ALL The Fun!.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, December 10, 2010

Long distance buses In Argentina are good, very good.

Now, in Australia they are fairly good too, but here's the thing, nobody takes them seriously as a mode of transport. While Australians will think nothing of getting in their car and driving for 20 hours straight, mention a 20 hour bus ride and eyes roll and the comment "are you mad?!" often follows.

Argentineans take their buses seriously and all walks of live love and use them. They are double decker and akin to airline travel, with food service, blankets, pillows, coffee but better, because, depending on the class of seat you buy you can fully recline in a seat as big and as comfortable as a Jason recliner with your legs completely elevated, (cama), or you can have an extremely comfortable reclining seat that goes almost all the way back with a elevated footstool (semi cama). Most buses have the camas downstairs and the semi cama upstairs. 

One of the best things is that Argentineans don’t seem to like to buy the front seats upstairs and when we come to buy our tickets they are still vacant waiting for us. Now it could be because the lucky purchasers of the front seats upstairs with the big panorama window are the only ones required to wear seat belts, but I have a niggling suspicion it is because in a road accident these are the least safe seats….. but let’s don’t go there! We love sitting up front watching the landscape unfold and there is more legroom with no front person pushing their seat back. With a bit of practice it is also possible to take a reasonable photo from these seats.

So we are comfortably sitting up front, are entertained with English speaking movies (only if we want to watch), have a coffee in hand, and then an announcement is made in Spanish.

 “NOOOOW….It’s time to play BINGO!!”

I kid you not – you play bingo on long distance Argentinean buses!  - in Spanish of course. Little bingo cards are handed out and a small “coffee stirrer” stick to poke holes in the card. We now know some of our Spanish numbers, but we have to have the Lonely Planet open to the Spanish Language section between us, and we strain to listen, check the book for translation, then check our bingo cards. We haven’t won yet but the only other Australian on the bus between Bariloche and Mendoza won and offered to share the prize of a bottle of wine with us!

Leaving Caleta Olivia just 24 hours after we arrived, we settled in our front upstairs seats for the 15 hour trip to Bariloche, which we had read was going to be very scenic. Next to us in the other two front seats were an Australian couple around our ages and they had already been on the bus for 24 hours as they had come all the way from Ushuaia.  We passed many hours chatting about our respective travels as the scenery changed from flat plains to the awe inspiring beauty of the snow capped Andes Mountains.   

Nearing Bariloche, persistent rain kept falling obscuring the view somewhat but we had glimpses of gorgeous purple, blue and yellow roadside flowers offset by rugged snow capped mountains.  On arrival it was straight into a taxi to the hostel we had booked ahead. The taxi driver pointed in the direction of a very steep set of steps – here we go again! It is lucky we travel light as our hostel was up three flights of steep stairs, then after checking in we had to come down a flight to get to our room and finally be in our own space.

The hostel notice board said “free dinner!” so we picked up our voucher and headed back down the stairs to street level where we had to go to their other hostel, for our free pasta with vegetable sauce. We bought a glass of wine each to go with it for only $2 a pop and found it to be quite drinkable. It was cold and wet out but we also had another voucher, at a club, for a free drink so we went there as well and listened to music for a bit.  It was too early for the crowds and so we happily took ourselves back to our very comfortable room.

We awoke to snow and a cold wind, but also to a panoramic view from our highly perched hostel, so made a decision after breakfast, that we would just stay around the hostel and enjoy the fabulous view and catch up a bit on writing our stories and sorting our photos. We were scheduled to go to the bus station at 3.00pm for our overnight bus to Mendoza. The hostel overlooked a beautiful lake and was completely surrounded by snow capped mountains. Bariloche is a ski destination in winter, and in summer the crowds come for the beautiful scenery and adventure sports.

We arrived at the bus station in plenty of time, but the time scheduled to catch the bus, came and went. We found some other English speakers who were also waiting and we chatted together. The bus was THREE HOURS LATE. This was a down side to bus travel we hadn't encountered before. Finally on the bus, it ran to its old schedule for food (as I suppose it had to be picked up on the way) so we ate a hot dinner at midnight instead of 9 pm! We slept reasonably well, and then woke to watch the scenery of grape vines and mountains unfold, until we arrived in Mendoza at 11.30am.

How we enjoyed the best of Argentinean wine and food is our next story.   
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thefarabegolis on

Three hours waiting for a bus!? See we couldn't do that with children!

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