Bariloche, Argentina - The
Famous Mountain Resort City
-- Story by Erin --
Bariloche is a picturesque city nestled on the edge of a big
lake surrounded by beautiful and rugged mountains. It is known for its clear, cool
climate in summer and its lively ski fields nearby in the winter. This year however it was
more quiet than usual due to the current economic slump in Argentina. What is a really bad
situation for the country turns out to be very good fortune for us. The last time we were
in Argentina, the peso had just been released from the dollar to float on the open market.
The exchange rate 2 weeks ago when it began to float was $1.40 pesos to the dollar. Now
its up around $1.70 to the dollar and local economist predict it will fall even
more. What used to be a really expensive country for us is now cheaper than Chile! We
found a lovely little guesthouse right in the center of town for US$15/night including
breakfast. This same guesthouse last year would have definitely been at least US$30/night
if not more!
Our dear friends in Buenos Aires had very kindly sent off a
package of rear tires and spare parts to us in Bariloche. The first morning we were
there, the package was delivered by 9:30a.m. and we were off to work on our bikes.
Several nice shop owners in town helped us out by finding us new inner tubes, changed our
tires and helped us to change our sprockets and chains.
Saturday, Jan 26th: Having done all our motorcycle chores we
took a ride around the south side of the lake to a place called Llao Llao, about 30
kilometers out of town. The road out to Llao Llao is lined with little cabana hotels
that look like little Swiss chalets. You can tell this is where the people with the
big money come to play! Llao Llao itself is a small, quiet fishing community with a
very famous hotel. Chris and I treated ourselves to coffee on the outdoor patio and
admired the 360 degree view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The hotel,
way overpriced we thought, is decorated like an Aspen resort on the inside with
cabin-style wood paneling on the inside and chandeliers made of deer antlers. The
hotel also has an 18-hole golf course and a dock nearby for excursions on the lake.
But for nearly $300/night for the cheap room, it was missing a lot of the little details
(ex: the menus were creased and dirty with pen marks on them) that one expects at a resort
for that price.
We finished our short loop back around the lake and found
that Jason and the Swiss lads had turned up. Since we figured we wouldn't be seeing
them again for a long time, we had one last celebratory dinner together. Peter was
craving Mexican food so we found a place to satisfy him. We arrived a bit late and
found the three of them well into their first margaritas. It was "happy
hour" and the drinks were two for the price of one. We ordered a round of
Tequila, and taught Marcel how to do a body shot with our lovely waitress. He really
liked it!!! Fooor (hiccup) margaritas later we finally ordered some food. We
had a rip-roaring good time that night, to say the least (Marcel even talked the waitress
into a second body shot), before we said a final goodbye to each other at 1 a.m. in the
Sunday, Jan. 27th - We woke slowly nursing our margarita
headaches. Finally around noon we managed to clear the fog in our heads and drive
out of town. This time we drove north around the lake in the direction of Chile once
again. The drive was beautiful and wound around several different lakes and through
little, upscale villages that cater to day-hikers and rich skiers in the winter. The
frontier is just about at the top of the mountain pass and you can feel the chill in the
air. The border crossing was again a non-event and we descended once again down the
Chilean side of the Andes.
View across Lago Nualhuapi
St. Bernards are a common siting in
the square, where tourists pay to have photos taken with the large beasts