In Bariloche but with a heavy heart
Trip Start Sep 25, 2011
25Trip End May 08, 2012
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On Friday March 30, I left Buenos Aires after spending a couple of visits with Svatka, who I met in Salta and who was going on to the places in Uruguay that I had just left. After missed connections on the Wed., we met up on Thursday at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in BA and the next night we met up for dinner and a Tango Show at the Borges Cultural Center in the Galleries Pacifico Shopping Center on Florida Avenida, the pedestrian shopping center. The Cultural Center offers shows as a non profit entity so prices are very reasonable, about $20 for a 1.5 hour show with about 16 dancers with over 20 costume changes. It beats spending the $80 or so for a tango show with dinner. I was staying at Circus Hostel in BA, and for 4 nights had the entire 4 bed dorm with bathroom to myself and i think i said in my last blog it was $21 per night. The days are getting cooler thank heavens. Was extremely lucky. it is not high season for sure here but still enough traffic now that vacations are over, the Portenos are back.
On the Friday I took the Collectivo city bus to the station from San Telmo, for 1 peso 25 centavos - about 30 cents for the 2 p.m. Via Bariloche bus from the Retiro Omnibus Estacion, a zoo at the best of times well not actually the getting there is the zoo, after you arrive its the cage... hundreds of buses take off every day for internal Argentina plus Chile, Uruguay etc. It is a 20 hour trip but includes servicio, movies, meals (Mr Poppers Penquins and Marley and Me), wine and champagne, hohum the usual with a Cama seat that reclines to about 160 degrees and they give you a blanket and pillow. the only problem was a lot of people were talking quite loud on this trip and rivalled the Uruguay bus ride from Salto to Colonia where everyone rotated being on their cell phone it seemed and were getting calls over and over ha I arrived in Bariloche about 10:30 a.m. the next day. The scenery, once it got light in the morning was spectacular and you may be able to see some through the hostel where i am staying, website: http://www.hostellostroncos.com.ar/fotos.html It shows the spectacular views here of mountain ranges, and the Nahuel Huapi Lake on which Bariloche is located. These websites can do more justice to show the beauty of this location than any of my attempts at describing. The scenery is way more spectacular and the temperature warmer (although a bit cooler than BA) than I had anticipated (although overnight it blew and rained and this a.m. was actually windbreaker weather) I have now got a cold, the first one of my travels so not bad.
In this Los Trancos hostel, I am also the only person in this beautiful dorm room, which has a tv and bathroom and double windows overlooking this Lake! for 75 pesos per night including breakfast, which is about $18. Note the prices on the los troncos website have a $ sign beside them, as that sign is also used for pesos and it is easy just to divide by 4 for dollars, even though it is actually more like 4.5 pesos to the dollar with the US and Canadian ones being almost equal (el mismo) being that i am so bilinguall (NOT)
Anyway I have been walking around this magnificant place, (a bit like a Swiss Alpine Village and can seem just over the top a bit, and with lots of chocolate factories due to original European immigrants - WHO KNEW?) with just over 100,000 population. It looks very new and polished, a lot of the buildings of wood and so looks very well to do due to tourism I took a trolley tour one day which actually went into the areas that are where the real people live - in shacks, no paved roads, etc. what a shock. One day I took the local collectivo bus for $12 pesos return and hour each way to Llao Llao (pronounced more like Mandarin Xiao (nihao XiaoYi)īas in this part of Argentina the double ll is pronounced as ss. The bus went all along the beautiful lake but i was on the wrong side of the bus going to LLao LLao as it was packed by people standing in the aisles. On the return trip i managed to sit on the side of the lake so saw its beauty. The road actually has hosterias, lodges and tour operators,, with a few settlements all along each side. The last stop is the spectacular hotel Llao Llao which has a little garden where you can stop and take photos of the lake and garden. wouldnīt you know it my batteries were dead in my camera. I had a look at their prices in the hotel, and cheapest room was $330 US per night going up to $2000 for a suite.
Anyway there is a Chocolate egg building initiative going on now with the unveiling today which is trying to be in the Guinness Book of Records. They were open to spectators on Sunday and Monday but now it is all closed up so progress is secret. By the way, last Monday was a national holiday so lots of local tourists, and of course this Friday is Good Friday followed by Easter Monday on Monday. This Easter week is known here as Semana Santa (Santa being Saint I presume, not Santa Claus) and the chocolate shops take full advantage of the popularity of Easter Eggs, just like in Canada. Cadbury also has the usual range here, but the local shops come up with the own designs and versions. There is a chocolate store here that is like a huge department store, complete with a cafeteria of chocolate items. On my trolley tour, a little tour of a chocolate factory was included so i had a sample, plus a cup of hot chocolate and both were delicious. The favourite here is apparently http://www.mamuschka.com/ and also note the prices are in pesos not dollars..
I had planned to take Spanish lessons while i was here but the Spanish school is shut down for all these holidays so it wasnīt worth it. i really feel badly my Spanish doesnt seem to improve very much - although i am getting quite good at reading it for some reason, maybe its the whole language concept thing. I did take a Pilates class yesterday and signed up for Yoga today and Pilates tomorrow. They do same routine that I am used to in Canada and the instructor knows English so gave a few instructions in English much to the surprise of the regulars!
I am leaving on Good Friday at 3 pm for an 18 hour overnight bus on Andesmar in cama class on second level of bus and booked the first seat so i get a huge view out the windows. Ii am going to Mendoza which is famous for its bodegas, the wineries and arrive at 9 a.m. The ticket with meals is about $125 Can.
A lot of my time is spent organizing onwardly and here i had to even buy separate tickets at a kiosk for the collectivo bus to the Autobus Estacion terminal so I donņt need to take a taxi. Although when I do that usually the bus is so packed I have to fight my way to get off, and with a backpack and suitcase is can be a challenge. Fortunately usually a Senor gives me a hand even though I donīt expect it. Again very kind strangers although today i had a very unusual experience. The bus was packed and older people can ask younger people for their seat, and today a very young person asked me for my seat so I had to get up in astonishment! then an older lady behind me i think gave this young person the eye,, as she was standing too so she gave her seat to the older lady. I donīt know whether that was a bit of tourist discrimination, my first encounter, or what it was. Anyway i will write more from Mendoza.
Feliz Pascua, Happy Easter, friends and family, from me.. I hope you spend it happy and healthy wherever you are.