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The land of lakes and chocolate (Bariloche)

ARGENTINA | Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | Views [727]

Bariloche

Bariloche

After the excitement of seeing the penguins I boarded another overnight bus to Bariloche. Crossing through Patagonia is a rather long process and the landscape does not help. For hours on end all you see is flat land. The only surprise was waking up in the middle of nowhere to discover some barren mountains which the bus really struggled to cross.

 

 

At dawn however I woke up to a green mountains and lakes surrounding Bariloche. It is a breathtaking view especially at sunrise.

 

And so I reached the town. The plan was to stick around for few days, do some trekking and then head North in search for some warm weather.

 

 

Bariloche is not the most attractive of towns but the surroundings are truly marvellous. Beautiful lakes and plenty of mountains to climb, all with stunning views at the top.

 

 

 

It also has the best chocolate and artisan beer in Argentina so its not a bad place to while away a few days or weeks.

 

 

I also got to witness the smashing of a gigantic chocolate egg at the main square as part of the Easter celebrations. If you were patient enough to stand in 4 hour queue you would receive a delicious chunk of local chocolate. I wasn't, instead I just headed for the nearest chocolate factory shop.

 

I was also really lucky and got offered a short time job at the hostel I was staying. That of course meant that I will be in Lake District for longer than anticipated but there is plenty to do to fill the days.

 

 

Of course just simply following the tracks was not going to be the case for me so I reached the peaks in what can be called more alternative ways or to put simply getting lost each time I ventured out. Fortunately each time I was rewarded with a beautiful view so the effort and the stress of not quite knowing where I will end up were totally worth it.

 

 

There is no denying that Barilcohe was cold. I was really glad that I did make an effort of carrying my polars with me as they came really handy when temperature at night would drop to near 0.

 

 

Because I got to have a more time than originally planned I started to look again at my journey plan. I was meant to head north from Argentina to Bolivia and Peru and then fly back from Santiago - that meant that I would actually be going back on myself. So after few days of deliberations I decided to change the route.

 

 

Along the way I met many people who really enjoyed crossing the Amazon on the boat so I decided to head back to north of Brazil and reach Peru through the Amazon.

 

After searching for the most economical way to get there I found that a flight to Sao Paulo and then to Salvador was the best option. So yes, Sao Paulo, I will see you again.

 

 

And yes in all truthfulness I was missing Brazil. Argentina is great, people are lovely but I was constantly missing something. I also become a bit tired of new places and so going back to Sao Paulo and Bahia would give me a little break - like visiting home, all be it a temporary one instead of the one long way away on the other side of the ocean. By this stage I have reached the half way point of my journey and even though adding Amazon to the plan might extend it by a month or so I really felt it a necessary break. Before I discover another new country and start to struggle with new culture, go back to some familiarity.

 

 

Once I have had enough of the trekking and chocolate I left Bariloche for the wine country - Mendoza.

 

 

I heard many people rave about the beauty of Mendoza and its amazing micro climate which means that it stays hot and sunny for most of the year. After few weeks in Patagonia I was definitely ready for some sun and wine.

 

 

 

I have to say that the city itself was disappointing - yes, its green and has wide streets and its flat, making it easy to walk around but it does lack beauty of colonial buildings (I know, the great earthquake took care of those) and is, to me at least, rather boring.

 

 

 

But once I got on a bike ride around the wineries I discovered the fun the place has to offer. With a group from the hostel we spent a wonderful day cycling around vineyards, tasting wine and trying not to fall of our bikes.

 

 

That day is definitely one of the highlights of the trip - greatly helped by good company and decent wine.

 

 

I didn't particularly like my hostel in Mendoza. The staff were nice and helpful and facilities were fine but it was an enormous place with tonnes of people. I think I have learnt that I prefer smaller establishments. Therefore after couple of nights I was ready for a change and set out to Cordoba.

 

 

 

Cordoba, however, had much more charm to it. There is enough in town to see and the University museum was really amazing, not to mention the nightlife.

 

 

 

Unfortunately the weather was pretty terrible which stopped me from seeing all of the surrounding towns and so I only made it to Alta Garcia to visit the Jesuit mission and the Che museum. In the end I refused to enter to Che house as foreigners are charged a ridiculous $75 in comparison to the locals who only pay $5. I am not sure that Che would be happy about that. He is probably turning in his grave...

 

 

So I easily whiled away a few days in Cordoba among a good crowd in the hostel. We had some really fun days. Apart from some sleepless nights, in part due to reception staff playing heavy metal at 7am (I think it was revenge for making them stay up till 5am), I had a very relaxing time there and so was ready for my return to Brazil.

 

Tags: argentina, bariloche, chocolate, lake district, on the road, trekking

 

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