Bariloche, Argentina - New Year, New Country
San Carlos De Bariloche, Argentina
Leaving El Bolson wasn't easy, not least because I had my finger strapped in a perpetual point. However, despite the disability, what was hardest was saying goodbye to a place that had quickly become so familiar and comfortable that if we had left it any longer we would have found ourselves stuck. With plenty more ideas and adventures sought, it was time to go. And so we dragged our over-stuffed backpacks onto a bus with the goodbyes of good people still in our ears. Fortunately others had the same plan and so alongside us came Clemente and not far behind were Ella and David. We were all in search of a venue for New Year. Bariloche, the heart if the Lake District, was the destination.
Peak season in Bariloche is chaos; Argentines and gringos alike fight for beds and so the next four days involved 3 different hostels and no plan as to what we would be doing.
The weather made it easy to excuse hikes up mountains but we did take a ski lift to a view that shouldn't be forgotten. Despite the eerily strong wind (small people and animals were in clear and present danger of being launched off the cliff edge) the view was like something from Lord of the Rings! Humped islands lay in a neat line across a wide and meandering lake all hugged by high tree lined mountains and trimmed with beaches. Simon and I gawped, took photos and then headed for the far less breezier cafe for a dulce de leche fix and a less traumatic gaze at the view.
We forced ourselves to walk the several kilometres to Colonia Suiss. A tourist trap engineered to tempt with you with such unavoidables like Choripan (a giant succulent sausage full of spicy goodness and smothered in chimichurri sauce. Even vegetarians salivate) and ice-cream. It meant we equally had no excuse to not walk all the way back to the starting point to catch the bus.
Bariloche is about indulgence. We tried the chocolatiers, the barbecues, the steakhouses, the cake shops and ice creams. It was even known for Simon to queue for an hour at 2am for his KILO of ice-cream. He blamed our French partners in crime but he could have said no couldn't he? Well it gave me card blanche for triple smotherings of dulce de leche on toast for breakfast!
I needed a walk; a march even. Simon needed me to have a walk - The key we've found to a good travelling relationship is a little space and the ability to accept that you're a total nightmare if you have too much energy and your other half doesn't (well, most of the time anyway). So, whilst I tramped my way from deserted coastline, to isolated beach, to a viewpoint miles from town in a four hour frenzy, Simon read a book and did techie stuff.
New Year was not intended to be a big event. We chose to stay in our hostel as they were organising a party for the guests and luckily for us it was third hostel lucky! Achalay hostel is family run and family orientated and as such grandad did the BBQ, dad did the salads, mum laid the table, grand daughter did the running everyone else ragged! The crowd was relaxed and open hearted with story sharing, advice giving and hopes for 2014 aired. Two incredible guitarists were also guests and so a night of song requests and joint warbling ensued!
Unwisely we had planned with our fabulous Ozzie chums to leave the next morning on the 11am bus. Simon's grand plan to go to a warehouse rave (I was planning an Ovaltine) was cancelled at the last minute with the organisers disappointing hundreds of party goers. Somehow I think the deity of hangovers had looked kindly on him and all those who had booked the bus with us.
And so.... To Chile!!