Southern Argentina including the Lake District of Bariloche and Calafate Patagonia
In this installment, our Bon Vivant traveler Mike Addison finally has the camera virus issue resolved and included a host of photos to share. Mike shares some of his foodie finds along the way as he ventures his way through southern Argentina with some mountain biking in Bariloche, and then hiking adventures through the Perito Moreno glacier. Along with some good beer, tender steaks, and rich dark hot chocolate, Mike also finds time to enjoy the tastes of South America too.
From: Michael Addison
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:23 PM
Subject: Southern Argentina – Bariloche (Lake District) and Calafate (Patagonia)
Sorry this file is so large, but I have some photos to share with you. I lucked out with these, as they are the only pics that were not lost from the virus. I was able to upload them and send to a fellow traveler before the virus hit. So actually, this is a forwarded note, without the text.
So, last Sunday (October 25, 2009) I caught a flight from BA to Bariloche, about a 2-hour flight southwest towards Chile. I chose Bariloche because it is renowned for its beautiful lakes and mountains (my fellow travelers also “highly” recommended it). I arrived around 6:30pm local time and waited for the bus shuttle that I was told would pick up at 7 pm. Nada…no bus for a half hour. One woman and her kids were getting exasperated as they were also waiting. We started talking (Habliendo espanol es facil ahora! 🙂 and she told me she would call a friend who has a private cab service. She offered a ride to me…Si Senora! Like I mentioned in my previous email, the Argentine people have been very nice. Her name was Roxanne (after she told me I wanted to scream, ¨ROOOOOOOOXANN´! like the Police song…kind of glad I didn’t, might have been walking to town :). Her friend gave me drive up curb service to my hostel (can’t beat that). Roxanne gave me a kiss (love this custom) and I got settled.
I checked out the second floor of the hostel–totally dedicated as a bar and dining hall…not bad for a hostel. I popped in and immediately saw my friend Cyril (Swiss guy) who had been at the same hostel in BA. He was with some absolutely fun, off the hook guys from the Netherlands, Israel, and Ireland—all laughing and having beers. I joined them and we all just gelled so quickly. Then I found out we were all in the same room. I’m not sure I’ve laughed so hard in 3 days as I did with these guys. After dinner, we went to a local bar…I’ve attached a pic—left to right; Omer, Enri (he was hammered, if you can’t tell), Marten–so freakin´funny, Jeremy—good dude from S. Africa, and Cyril, the Swiss guy. That night we had a blast and decided to get together two days later for a mountain biking ride through the lakes and mountains.
So, Monday I had open, and Jeremy told me he had met some German and English travelers who were going to do a major trek (5 hours one way) with an overnight stay up in the snowy peaks. That sounded awesome, so I joined them and we all left Monday morning. The group shots show us just before we ascended the mountain, then one where we are finally approaching the top (you can see the cabin and outhouse), and then another group shot when we had finally made it. It got quite cold that night, with some snow and ice pelting the windows. However, we were fairly cozy–as you can see in the dinner pics–and really enjoyed the experience. Its one thing to look out a window and view snow covered peaks in the distance; it is quite another when you look out the window and you are “on” the peaks. I felt so badass 🙂
I did not want to miss biking with my boys the following day. Since we were to meet back in town at 11 am for the ride, I started trekking back down the mountain at 6 am the following morning. The final pics are from that morning…one of the orange sunrise hitting the face of a nearby peak, adjacent to where we had trekked. Man I’m glad I stopped at REI outfitters in Houston before I left–they set me up with the right gear…otherwise I would not have been able to do the trek. I made great time down the mountain, but I could not find a bus back to town, so I approached a guy and negotiated a ride for half the cost of a cab! He told me my Spanish was great. He “had” to be drunk.
So, Tuesday was a beautiful, sunny day as we all went on the mountain bike ride at 11:30am The circuit we rode was about 25 miles, with some challenging uphill grades, but that made it fun too. After we returned to the city center of Bariloche, we all chowed on the free dinner the hostel provided each night (a freakin´ deal). Then we downed the beers. Needless to say, we all slept well that night.
Wednesday was a rainy and gray day, but that allowed us to check out the city. So, we did some window-shopping and I booked a flight at an agency for Calafate the next day. Oh yeah, I stopped for a cup of hot chocolate at a local cafe. I was told Bariloche was “the” place for chocolate…and man, this cup was the best Í have ever tasted. Thick, sweet, hot, and pure chocolate flavor. That night we all went out for an Argentine steak dinner. We found a superb place that served meat like those in the nicest chophouses in the U.S. but not as pricey. I requested a half order…glad I did, because I got not one but two delicious, thick tenderloins (a “half” order!). We also had bottles of Malbec wine at the table. Good people, food, wine = a very good evening.
Thursday another fellow traveler–Yarif from Israel–and I grabbed our flight to Calafate. It is another 2-hour flight, directly south of Bariloche. It’s in the world famous Patagonia region of Argentina. Mountains, steppe, glaciers, lakes, rivers, wildlife, etc. It’s another world. Yarif and I did some hiking up to the base of an amazing peak called Fitz Roy (like nothing I have ever seen before). We—along with another fellow traveler, Diane from Colombia—went to Glacier National Park and trekked over the Perito Moreno glacier http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIfHurcBn9g. We were fitted with ice shoes (serious spikes for traction). We were given a quick lesson on how to stomp into the ice in order to gain a decent foothold. This experience is up there with my first parachuting and hang gliding experience—it was that cool.
Time to hit the sack…getting up at 5:30am to cross the border into Chile to see/trek Torres del Paine peak. Then Thursday flying to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of S. America (they call it El Fin del Mundo).
Join Mike on his next installment of the Bon Vivant Travels when he reports from Ushuaia, Buenos Aires (again), Iguazu Falls, and Mendoza, Argentina.