. Then it rained. We carried on. An hour or so later we saw a pretty poor waterfall and a TOSH view of the lake!!! Then it REALLY RAINED!!! ABSOLUTELY SOAKED!! Bad cheese and ham butties under a tree. Had to trudge aaaalllllllll the way back to the bus stop! Waited ages in the rain. Got on. Couldn't see out of the windows because of all the condensation and therefore missed our stop!! Got off the bus about a mile past where we needed to be......in the still pouring down rain!!! 'KIN EEELLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!! Consulted our soggy map, lucked our way home and hated Bariloche!!! Then we ventured out again eventually, bought a couple of bus tickets to El Calafate.....HOW MUUCCCH???? Got them refunded straight away and got the local bus back to 'El Supermercardo!!' That's more like it!! (Not quite sure why we paid THEN realised we didn't want them.....!!). Bad day!! Chalk this one off!!!
After a lazy following day mainly watching bad Premier League matches, the weather finally perked up a bit and the sun popped out. We got back on the bikes on the Sunday and went to a nearby place called Llao Llao with the intention of cycling the 'Circuito Chico'. The woman who we got the bikes off gave us a thorough itinerary of where to stop off and what to search for and we were off. Not for the first time in South America, Kala's hat was diagonally halfway across her face and she'd snapped the band that kept her trackies out of the chain! Not a good start ha ha!!
! We got goin and Christ it was hilly but the views of the mountains and lakes that I mentioned before we're superb!! We had lunch at a windy, but very scenic beach and then carried on to another lake for a photo. Here was where Kala smacked her head on a low-lying bamboo branch - thank God for the cycle helmet ha ha!! Funny!! I then snapped my brake cable and Kala's chain came off, but our crap bikes didn't stop us finishing the circuit, finishing with a beltin viewpoint at 'Punto Panoramico'. Lovely day, if not tough one on the old legs in a biting wind!!
Monday, in my opinion, topped Sunday though!! After sweating over a shortage of 'dulce de leche' at breakfast, it eventually came and we got on our way to walking one of the mountain routes to a place called 'Refugio Frey' which was buried deep in the 'Catedral' mountain range (very popular in ski season apparently.....their combined ski-lifts can move up to 22,000 people per hour! STAT!!!). The route started out fairly flat and eventually opened up to a view of Lake Gutierrez. Aaahhhhh, so that's what we missed out on the other day!! We could even see the tree where we got wet under whilst eating our bad sandwiches! The route then meandered through a wooded area and got tough for the last km, uphill all the way, but wow was it worth it!! Just for a change, there was a lake (!!!!) and a very different 'spiky' rock formation that echoed when there was any noise (the 20 or so 11 year olds on a school trip that were charging about proved this!!!). Well done Refugio Frey!!! Great views!! A short lunch break and the customary 'go and sit on that rock and face the thing' photo shoot ha ha!! (I know I know, we've got loads of these, but it's hard to know what else to do!!). To mix it up, I threw some snow in the air on one photo!! CRAZY..! An easy descent became a MARCH after we thought we were gonna miss the 5.45 bus.......which was at 6.15!!! Bollocks!! Oh, and Argie bus drivers wave to each other in a bit of a girly way.....and I don't think they're joking either........!!
Bariloche in Argentina was our first port of call after Chile. This place is renowned for its beauty, both in summer and winter months. Very mountainous and 'lakey'. Firstly though.......3 words.......DULCE DE LECHE!!!!! I don't half look forward to brekky here because it's basically unlimited toast with a thick, caramel-type spread that, quite simply, is NOTHING SHORT OF SENSATIONAL!!!! YUM!! Oh, and to add to that, Bariloche is famed for its CHOCOLATE!! There's chocolate shops EVERYWHERE!! Lots of chocolate shops in Bariloche = Paul and Kala like Bariloche!!! On day one here though, we had an absolute SHOCKER of a day!! Crap weather....couldn't see a thing. Clouds! It was bloody cold here by the way too. Stray dogs EVERYWHERE (there was in Chile aswell). I thought one was gonna come with us at one point for a look at Lake Gutierrez to take in some views. Anyway, eventually managed to give him the slip! We boarded the bus and stayed on it too long, not knowing where to get off. Got off (eventually!) after a total non-starter of a conversation with the driver