Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bikes not Hikes

A stylish reminder of our location

Our chosen destination following the wonderful/painful hikes of El Chalten was the city of Bariloche. We arrived early in the morning following a horrendous 24 hour bus ride down Ruta 40 (which as I mentioned in my last post is apparently a bit of a ´big deal`).

Bariloche is one of Argentina´s big holiday hotspots, located on one of the larger lakes in ´The Lake District` (yes there is more than one). The place is quite toursity with lots of awesome `tat´ shops (everyone loves a cheesey holiday gift right!!), and weirdly loads of  chocolate shops. The big draw is the cooler (but not cold) summer weather, Skiing in the winter, the lakes and the mountains. The whole place is trying to rock the alpine vibe, with lots of fondue restaurants and wooden Swiss style buildings. 

We were staying in a great hostel called 41 Below which had comfy beds, great communal areas, friendly staff, wifi and a kitchen we could cook in (which after El Chalten was much needed)!! The plan for Bariloche was to have a bit more of a relaxing time than our previous (very active) destinations, though this may not have gone exactly to plan...

Me, The Photographer, Steff and Melina enjoying a mid journey beer
My trusty steed

After getting to know a couple of our fellow guests on the first night we all decided to spend  the next day on a popular bike ride called the chico circuit, which started a short bus journey out of town. Stupidly I thought this would be a nice rest from hiking and had visions of a nice flat path around a lake, me cycling with ease, sun shining, hair blowing in the wind. Reality did not live up to expectation. The circuit was very hilly and while the downhill sections were incredibly fun, the uphill was definitely a struggle for my untrained legs (at some points I was peddling but basically at standstill). I have to admit I did give up and push the bike a few times... However, the journey round was beautiful with lots of view points and places to stop off (including a microbrewery), and the company was great! 

As we hadn't had enough of a work out even after the bike ride, we all then decided to do a little hike to the top of a mini mountain Cerro Camamario. The views from the top were amazing as we had been blessed with an incredibly clear day. There was a nice little cafe at the top of this hill and I indulged in a big piece of chocolate cake filled with dulche de leche. We also cheated and got the ski lift back down... I was supposed to be relaxing after all!

At the top of Cerro Campanario

My number one rule for this trip - eat anything containing dulche de leche

The next day while Steff and Melina (our bike friends) decided to head out on a 5 hour hike, me and the photographer opted for a slightly more chilled day. My weary legs would not have coped with much more. We decided to hop on the bus out to Hotel Llao Llao, a very famous hotel in the region. Unfortunately, as we had no reservation we couldn't go inside for a cuppa as planned, so we settled for a little walk to the top off Cerro Llao Llao instead! The walk wasn´t too long and not too steep, definitely worth it for the views. Afterwards we headed down to little beach for lunch, but it was a little too windy to for a proper tanning session.

Me at the top of Cerro Llao Llao
Relaxing by a lake

As it was our last evening in Bariloche we headed out to a Argentinian parrillada (grill) restaurant which had great reviews, El Boliche de Alberto. We were not disappointed, the food was amazing and the portions were huge. Most of the cooking took place over a big grill over hot coals which we could see from our table, and all meat orders had to be taken by the chef himself. We started the meal with an amazing piece of grilled cheese (a whole round of cheese cooked over the hot coals until transformed in to a gooey mess) and a blood sausage, which despite my original disgust was filled with herbs and was pretty tasty. For the main event we both ordered Bife de Chorizo (sirloin steak). I went for a half portion which was the equivalent to a good sized steak in the UK and The Photographer went for a full portion, which was a monster! The meat was all cooked to perfection and was delicious, as were the huge sides of fried and salad. We finshed the meal off by sharing a the house desert, basically ice cream, cream, dulche de leche and raspberries. This was definitely the best meal we have had so far!

The BEST steak (and possibly fries) ever at El Boliche de Alberto (The smaller one at the back is my half portion)

The next day was our last in Bariloche, with a lovely overnight bus awaiting us that evening. We spent the day continuing to gorge ourselves, sampling churros filled with dulche del leche (Can you see a theme here..), exploring chocolate shops and also sneaking in a cheeky ice cream. High on sugar we boarded our bus to our next destination Puerto Madryn with the promise of penguins on the horizon....


Location: Bariloche

Highlights: Bike rides, anything with dulche de leche, Steak and our hostel 41 Below.

Bootcamp rating: 5/10, much less activity, much more eating!

Minutes spent lost: 0

Tantrums: 0, I have been far too high on sugar to be grumpy.

Epiphany´s: 0

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