We finally arrive in Bariloche after a grueling 34 hour bus ride. We decide to go our separate ways and meet up for a local beer and world famous steak!
Tom and Vera in one taxi and Sarah and I in another, which turned into a small game of cat and mouse on our way to the city. We arrived at hostel penthouse.... it was the penthouse but now its a great hostel. Get the bags down, wipe the days of sleep out of our eyes and rest for a few minutes. The view is incredible, high jagged mountains falling into a giant blue lake. Why would you leave here? All we need is a cheep beer? With that thought we invite Tom and Vera up. The change of plans leads to 4 liters of beer with the sun setting over the mountains infront of us and lakeside reflections. After forgetting the Argentinian dinner time and leaving too early, a sneaky beer with nachos and empaniadas was really the only option we had while we wait for Alberto's Steak House to open. It's funny how we started trying to speak more spanish. I'm sure it was perfect Spanish, maybe it was the influence of the local Rubio (blond ale) which was great with the rojo (red ale) least favored.
The menu option that we can see are lomo , chorizo, (these are the filets on either side of the t-bone) or ojo (eye filet). A mountain of chips and a mixed salad (keep dad happy) with a $8 wine to share rounds out the first amazing Alberto's experience. Dinner cost for the first meal in days, under $20AUD!!
Goodnight, a bed is what was needed after days on a bus, a few ales and huge steak!!
It is time for the first sleep-in in months, but we both wake-up early in a warm room. Just a morning of resting followed by visits to the other attractions of Bariloche, the St. Bernard dogs with barrels round their necks and chocolate factories. There are photos of a 2-3 story chocolate egg being made and Odin, our St. Bernard to come.
The sunset was so good from the penthouse we decided to set up the GoPro on a 2second time lapse and capture it this time, maybe with a beer or two and the first ciders we have seen, sidre.
Since breakfast is included, and we are not eating much lunch, we decide it's time for the lomo and bife de chirozo again. Mmmmmmm
I was defiantly quiet to mum and dad about this one. We defer hiring the car and trip to the seven lakes so Tom and I can hire body armor, a full helmet and head down a mountain as fast as we can with a bike strapped to us.... Lance was on a bike again but this time any fun would hopefully be caught on the GoPro camera attached to Tom's helmet. You attach the bike to the ski lift and start the slow trip up. Amazing fun, but fast and slippery with more rocks than I know what to do with. Two easy runs and one intermediate run took up half the day till 1:30pm and time for us to hand the gear back. There were two hiccups, Tom's caught on the GoPro and mine was missed but there is a vague explanation when I arrive late. Sarah and Vera head up to the top on another ski lift and enjoy the view, a snack and a submarino (chocolate bar melted in hot milk). We met up after for churios bought from an old Spanish man who helped us with everything earlier. They were nice; the venison churio was odd, salmon one nice and Sarah off milk chocolate one disgusting and replaced.
We met up at their hostel this time to swap photos however 3 liters of beer later (by accident this time) we decide to try the favorite restaurant to the locals. We were the odd ones out in a big place, the only gringos. The 13 block hike was the first part. I'm not sure I've seen someone be so amazed and laugh so much by two dogs mating on the street like Tom, although it was funny and they did follow us and try (or the male did) for many block of the walk. I just think of the argentinian father explaining why there was a german couple with a camera chasing the dogs (with us watching and laughing). This made for interesting and funny conversations and was one of the first times I'd be happy to give a few pesos for the entertainment, haha. We then chose seats and after a minute realized that it made us look like we were behind glass or an attraction to the locals coming in (like a fish tank). It was great for us as we enjoyed seeing all the locals enter. Win-win. Since there were no gringos the Argentinian dinner time was observed here. There were very few people in at 8:30-9pm. By 10 -10:30 it was full, families and dates. This place is not like the tourist places, just different. Nice food and friendly people, and a great experiance.
24/3 The seven lakes
9:15am, we get the car with a few expected highlights waiting for us, the seven lakes, a tappas lunch on the boot of the car, driving in a car again with control of stops and.... My first time driving a left hand drive manual car. I've driven an auto on the wrong side but not changing gears. The drive is nice and the first lakes are good, but not jaw dropping compared to what we have seen. The light rain or full cloud doesn't help and the road changed from sealed to a poor gravel surface, slowing us down. A small clearing in the weather and a nice lakeside park we decide to stop for boot top tapas.
Lago hermoso (handsome lake) a clear lake down a long gravel road was funny and well worth the trip. People found it so handsome that there were 2 g-strings over the signs. I applaud them as that place was so windy I would not want to take my jacket off, let alone bear my ass.
The unexpected highlight was the amazing views on the drive home; it was the same colors as the grand canyon and felt like the wild west. This was better than the lakes the drive was meant to be about.
Home just in time to return the car after talks about what to do if we can't get it in. We quickly duck out to fill it up after we just had enough time and then it's all worked out (you may wonder what relevance this has, but its coming up). We were tired after a long day and luckily for us, next door is albertos steak house...... and we go for steak with Tom, Vera and a gay dutch couple and his brother. Tom and Vera met them in NZ and ended up on the same boat to antarctica!! They hired a car a day earlier to get a full day at the lakes only to find out at 7am that the back of the car was destroyed in a hit and run, back wheels folded in horizontal..... A day of police reports, insurance company calls, hire car fun, broken Spanish and english and thousands of Pessos owed (pay until they can fix it, which here is years).
Returning it that night was the best move
Trying to plan the next steps are getting harder as we are running out of time in Argentina!! I may make this sound like a holiday but we are working hard over here!! We decide on Mar Del Plata, and a suspiciously cheep hotel. This location is a holiday destination for Argentinians with beaches, shopping a iconic pier and some animals; seal lions and flamingoes. We set to planning this, BA & a day trip or two to Uruguay (see, not a holiday). We get the 15:15 coche cama night bus with Via Bariloche. This is a seat that reclines to 160* and the feet stay down. Nice but not a bed. Great dinner of chicken and mash with wine included is good, as are the English movies we watched with Spanish subtitles. This bus was our only choice and was about $150Aud, but it is an exception and not the rule. Argentina is so big that 20+ hours on busses are the only and cheapest ways to get around.