Monday, 28 April 2014

Bariloche, Argentina: Little Switzerland

I arrived in Bariloche, via bus, after the longest commute of my life, including flying from Australia to Europe and back twice... a 26 hour bus ride. The famous Ruta 40 is actually just many medium sized stones thrown together. So while taking in the stunning views my bum received a rough massage.

Bariloche (officially San Carlos de Bariloche) is in the far north of Argentinean Patagonia. It is a famous ski resort in the winter and is very famous for amazing chocolate, both giving it the nickname of Little Switzerland. They smashed the disputed world's largest Easter Egg the day before I arrived. There are also conspiracy theories and books about Hitler living near here after WWII... His body was never found in Berlin.

On my second day I ended up going on the famous 7 lakes tour half price, courtesy of a French girl that could no longer go. There was one surprise. The tour was in Spanish and I was the only gringo (everyone else was from Argentina and Venezuela). It was an all day bus trip passed 7 lakes and stopping at the little town of San Martin de los Andes before returning.

I took my days here pretty easy. It was time to relax after my previous weeks of hiking. I explored the city with other people from the hostel and alone, trying chocolate everyday. The main street is literally lined with chocolate stores. Real chocolate melted down and spinning in a machine all day made the best hot chocolates.

Sitting on the Shoulders of Giants

Bariloche also has some interesting places.

Top Blokes!

A nice name for a childrens' toy store
On one day I did manage to do one of the many famous hikes in this area, Cerro Campañario, with a group from the hostel.

I also discovered Argentina's famous Choripan while I was here. In Spanish Pan means bread and Chorizo in Argentina is just sausage (Chorizo is a specific type of meat in Spain)... Choripan is a gourmet sausage sandwich sold by a guy on a street with a portable BBQ.

I also started exchanging some of my US Dollars. Argentina has a slightly dodgy currency policy and government. The official USD to Arg Peso rate is 1 dollar to 8 pesos, however, due to massive restrictions on Argentineans to hold foreign currencies you can receive much higher rates known as the Blue Rate/Blue Dollar. In this city I was exchanging at over 25% higher but in Buenos Aires you can exchange at over 50% making Argentina much much cheaper if you come with physical cash.

The rest of my week here involved studying Spanish, eating amazing food at many restaurants, eating more chocolate, partying all night and missing a guy getting kicked out of my dorm room for trying to fight people and howling saying he was a wolf... I picked the right night to come home at 7am.

At the last minute I changed my next stop from Mendoza to Buenos Aires... only a 23 hour bus ride this time!

Lessons Learnt:
I love chocolate!
Duolingo is an awesome free app that will help with learning another language.
It's okay to hide in the hostel all day instead of really discovering an area if you want to.

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