Down and out in Bariloche
Okay, we´re in Bariloche now, or to give it´s full name, San Carlos de Bariloche. Back in Argentina again after 6 hour bus ride. Not bad bus at all really. Had a bit of a wait at customs and the bus had a bit of a wait for me as I really had to "go" at the Chilean side.
Weird thing. When we traveled over the border from Argentina to Chile, the two checkpoints were very close together. The bus literally drove a few metres and we got out again. However, traveling back through the Andes pass, the checkpoints were about 30 mins drive from each other. We were a bit worried that the two checkpoints had been rolled into one and we hadn´t given back the proper papers after leaving the country (you get fined if you don´t have your entry papers to hand back when you leave).
Got into Bariloche at 8.30-ish at a bus terminal just outside of town. Had to figure out how to get the bus into town (not a big problem, just go stand where everyone else is standing). Oh all the information places were shut as well so we couldn´t go there for hostel recommendations.
Got into town and made our way to a hostel that we´d been trying to book over the internet but failed as the pages were dodgy and kept crashing. The hostel turned out to be at the top of a big hill (Bariloche is quite hilly). After clambering up with all our bags we got to the hostel only to be told that there was no space left. The guy gave us somewhere else to try but that was also packed out. The girl at the second place took pity on us and called around a few places but .... they were all full.
Turns out that although we´re a bit out of season, the town is full (and I really do mean full) of school kids in big groups. Loads of teenagers packing out all the hostels and hotels.
We left our bags at the 2nd hostel (we had one hour to get back as the girl would go off duty, oh and it turned out that it wasn´t 8.30, but 9.30 as we´d crossed to another timezone which we forgot about). So with the bags stored, we rushed through the streets trying pretty much every single hostel and hotel. The results were quite depressing as they were either completely full or they were way out of our price range. At one cheap hostel the "nice" man directed us to the place over the road which was about 5 times more expensive. Ridiculous.
We were wondering about going into dorm rooms at one hostel when we tried a tiny hotel on a corner street. It had a double room, with bathroom, tv etc and it was incredibly cheap. 50 pesos (about $17 USD). We took a very quick look at it and although it was a bit shabby we decided it would do so we collected our bags and moved in.
A few minutes after moving in we realised why it was so cheap. It was horrible. The hotel was run by erm, very young people which may or may not have been the reason why the room had obviously not been cleaned since the last person was there. The bed had hairs all over it, the bin next to the toilet was full of used toilet paper, and the bathroom had more mould than I had ever seen outside of a wine cellar. I´m not kidding, it wasn´t just a few spots in a corner, it was full on fur everywhere. They wanted paying per night, but we had no money. In the morning we asked where we could find an ATM (cashpoint for the UK people) and headed off to get cash and find somewhere else. Within about 1.5 hours of searching the streets again going to every single hostel and hotel we found another place. Hotel again (not hostel) and it was a bit more expensive at 65 pesos ($22 USD) but we really needed to get out of that first place.
That Thursday we spent most of the day getting back to normal. Just wandering around the town. Took a quick walk up a hill for a view down onto the town and water. It´s a very beautiful place. Completely geared up for tourists and skiers though.
Some things that Bariloche is famous for.
Sking Apparently some of the best slopes in South America.
Chocolate They make tons of the stuff here and there are chocolate shops on every street selling all sorts of chocolate. Tried some on Thursday. Very good. Just pointed at several different types of small chocolate bars until we were done then they just charge by the kilo (36 pesos / $12 USD per kilo).
Ice cream Haven´t tried this yet as my throat is still a bit sore and it´s freezing cold.
Today (Friday) we got up and took bus 20 to nearby Llao Llao. Well we tried to catch the bus and finally succeeded after about 30 mins and walking a few kilometers. There are only bus stops on one side of the road (not ours) so you´re never sure if you´re meant to wait there or not. Doesn´t really matter in the end as you can just flag one down if you´re in a good spot and the driver sees you in time.
Llao Llao has a spectacularly posh and exclusive hotel. So exclusive, we weren´t allowed near it. We managed to get to the car park, saw some geese on the lawns, saw a hawk or kestrel or something plus some guests learning archery. That was it. Anyway, the real reason we went to Llao Llao was to walk around the peninsula it has jutting out.
We had talked to a tourist info lady the day before who had given us a map and drawn points of interest on it. Turns out that the map was very very bad. We made our way around okay and saw everything we wanted to see but the routes weren´t signposted or marked and the map was just plain wrong.
Views of the lakes were great. The walk to the non-existant tea room wasn´t so fantastic. We did find a restaurant that shut one minute before we got there and wouldn´t let us in. And we also found a house that would make a perfect tea and cakes place right on the lake shore (and next to the bus stop on the way back) but alas it was dedicated to "Clocks and Dolls". I guess they know where the demand is.
Ended up walking a lot. I mean A LOT. Will have to wait till we get back to Bp to find out how much as the map is useless. Got back into town after a crazy bus drive. The driver starts off, with the door open while I´m only half on the bus, then counts change as we tear through sharp bends with oncoming traffic. Our legs were trembling after the walk and being thrown about in the bus so we sought comfort in hot chocolate and cakes.
And now, because we´re back in Argentina, we´re off to eat huge slabs of tender steak.
Yes, I know, no pics. We haven´t been back to the hotel since the walk and I didn´t bring the camera cable with me. Maybe tomorrow.
For someone else´s pics of Bariloche, click below:
Bariloche tags on Flickr
Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics