Sunday, January 20, 2008


To cut a long story short it was one hell of a schlep to get from Sucre, Bolivia down to Bariloche, Argentina.
Click here to see The Route. First prize goes to anyone who can figure out a pattern in our route (we are also eligible to enter this competition as we are also in the dark on this one.)
The race was on! We had to make it down to Patagonia before the small summer window closed, and this vast steppe returned to its normal inhospitable self. There was trekking to be done, penguins to visit and above all, we had to find out just how close we could get to Antarctica.
Bariloche was our first stop in Patagonia as we travelled from north to south. To our delight we discovered that our hostel was located on the beach front, affording a vantage of pink sunsets by dusk and the full moon by night.
In the winter time Bariloche is a Mecca for skiers. As an aside, why do we use that phrase? Do Arabs ski in the desert?
The largest slope is called Catedral mountain (the Spaniards saw Christian symbology in almost every natural feature). As it was summer we took a cable car up and then hiked back down.
**editor's note - it is safer if we offend everyone equally, so how about a Jewish joke? Why do Jews have big noses? Because air is free!**
On return to Bariloche we had a hearty appetite. I braved venison, but TZ decided to stick to what she knows and ordered a potato salad. My venison was great, but TZ was a tad disappointed by how literally the Argentinians take their potato salad. Half cooked, cold, slabs of potato with a sprig of parsley to make it really gourmet.
As Bariloche is in the heart of the lake district we decided to take a kayak out one afternoon. I was amused by the apparent boob job given to TZ by the life vest. I wasnt as chuffed when I realised it had the same effect on me. We were lucky to catch a completely windless afternoon (save for the effect of half cooked potatoes...). We could see every detail of the lake bottom, from the tree roots and stones to the trout that began to jump at twilight.
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Another day we set off to explore the national park Bahai Lopez. We took a bus to one end of the park, spent the day meandering across and picked up another bus on the other side to return to Bariloche.
In the middle of the park we stumbled upon a golf course and then discovered a 5 star resort hotel called Llao Llao. We mustered the chutzpah to enter the resort in our backpacker clothes and enquired about the price of a room. The cheapest was US$500 and the prices went up exponentially from there. We told them our Personal Assistant would call to make a booking after we had decided between Llao Llao and our accommodation back in Bariloche, Hostel Bed Bugs...
Like Belgium, fine chocolate shops can be found on every corner of Bariloche's tourist centre. As dedicated tourists we took it upon our selves to extensively sample their range. Another little known fact is that the northernmost Patagonian glaciers can be found close by. We did the maths and realised that we could burn off the excess calories and see the glacier at the same time. Stay tuned for more...

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