Week 10 – The Long and Winding, Windy Road

The last stop of our vacation was San Carlos de Bariloche, some 1400 km north of El Calafate – which in the southern hemisphere means a warmer climate. Unfortunately for us, there was a snap of cold weather with rain and high winds for the first two days of our short stay.

We did the obligatory Cerro Campanario hike, Circuito Chico, Colonia Suiza and Mamuschka chocolate store. The 360° view from the Cerro Campanario was very nice. We didn’t enjoy the Circuito Chico due to intermittent rain and high winds. Colonia Suiza looked like something coming out of Disney’s Epcot, but shabbier. I bought a doll made out of a pumpkin that looks like the famous Russian matryoshka (the seller, however, assured me that’s how native dolls look like). The Mamuschka chocolate was good, although I couldn’t understand the connection between Patagonia, a German-Swiss founded town and Russian themed chocolate.

San Martin de Los Andes is 3 hours away and supposedly the prettier cousin of Bariloche. The road there goes through the Seven Lakes region. Hoping that the weather there would be better, we got into a car and drove north. It was OK until we got to Villa la Angostura where we wanted to visit a forest of arrayán trees, but it was closed due to high winds knocking trees down.

Then the rain began and stayed with us all the way up to San Martin. We didn’t want to get out of the car to admire lakes and mountains, which we couldn’t see much anyways. San Martin itself didn’t blow us away: it’s a small town with a few streets full of shops selling either sports equipment or souvenirs. We had a very good lazy lunch at a seemingly unassuming restaurant; the only good thing about this trip. Maybe if the sun had been with us I would have found the road pleasant and the city charming.

On our third day in Bariloche we finally got a sunny day. We were torn between going to El Bolson to see its artisanal market or go to Mount Tronador. Our previously dormant nature loving alter egos told us to go to the mountain. Oh boy, was it a bad idea! The mountain and surroundings were pretty but the road… I wouldn’t suggest to go there even to people I don’t like.

On our last day of vacation we decided to take it easy: we found a small quiet beach just outside of town and spend a good chunk of the day there. We read, we wrote, we had once again our typical lunch – a beer and a sandwich. We finished the day and the vacation at an upscale restaurant with incredible view on the lake. We had no problem going from beer and sandwiches to a seven courses dinner with wine pairing.

This week in numbers:
793 km – behind the wheel
7 – lakes checked off
970 ml – the size of a big bottle of beer, who knows why it’s not 1 liter