Bariloche is a beautiful and interesting place. Beautiful because it’s surrounded by lakes and mountains. Interesting because there’s good chocolate and technological and scientific activities. This post is a mixture of things to see in Bariloche, and my experience there.
A strange noise suddenly woke me up. It was still pitch black and my nose was frozen. I moved under the six heavy blankets to reach my phone. It was 5am.
I heard the same noise again. I listened to it with all my attention to identify what it was. It sounded like someone was moving soil, or rather gravel, on the other side of the wall. It didn’t make any sense since there was another construction right next to the house, and it was empty.
I put my ear on the wall. Yes, the noise was coming from there, from inside the empty house.
It was my third night in Bariloche and the two previous nights had been very silent. What could it be?
Bariloche and Cerro Campanario
Bariloche is in the northern part of the Argentinian Patagonia, close to the Andes and the Chilean border. I was actually traveling around the South of Chile and crossed the border to visit this beautiful region of mountains and lakes.
The best views of the area are from Cerro Campanario. I went there twice: the first day it was foggy and rainy and couldn’t see anything, so I went back the following day.
I was told I could hike up. Well, it was actually possible but the paths weren’t well signaled and I got lost several times. I did get to the top though, but by the time it started to rain and I took shelter in the cafeteria.
“We don’t have wifi, we have views”.
“Not today” I thought, tired and upset. I waited for a while but it didn’t look like the weather would change so I decided to go back down. I got lost again and finally walked right under the chair lift. People were looking at me. Yeah, technically it wasn’t a path but at least the direction was clear!
It was much better the second day. Remembering how difficult it had been to hike up and down, I took the chair lift. So much easier and less tiring.
I was happy I went back. The sky was completely clear, deep blue, so I could see all the surrounding mountains and lakes, part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park.
The highest mountains were white on the top. It was mid June: winter was coming. Being nearly winter in northern Patagonia meant that it was very cold. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably around 0-5ºC during the day, below 0ºC at night.
Hotel Llao Llao
Another place with great views near Bariloche is Hotel Llao Llao. It’s on the same bus line as Cerro Campanario so it’s easy to visit both on the same day. There is no need to stay in the hotel (it’s a five start hotel!). I went there and just walked around the hotel to enjoy the views of the lake and the distant mountains.
Chocolate in Bariloche
Bariloche is often compared to Switzerland because of the mountains, the lakes… and the chocolate. There’s plenty of good chocolate shops, most of them in Mitre street. A gourmets dream!
I bought some chocolates and also some of my favorite sweets in the world: alfajores. Alfajores are made with two cookies and a sweet filling in between. I love the ones filled with dulce de leche, which is caramelized condensed milk, and covered in white chocolate. Yes, it’s a sugar bomb, but I had to survive the cold!
I was surprised to hear that my couchsurfing host worked in the aerospace industry.
Satellites in Patagonia??
Yes, satellites in Patagonia.
He told me that the region received many immigrants from everywhere: other parts of Argentina, Peru, other Latin American countries, Germany, Holland, Russia, Spain…
The German introduced technology and the organization of the city. Nowadays advanced technological and scientific activities are being developed in Bariloche, including Masters and Doctorate degrees in physics and engineering, scientific and applied research and a high-technological company.
On my third night I woke up with a strange noise. It sounded like someone moving gravel, but it couldn’t be. The next building was empty. I felt very uneasy, I don’t like unknown noises in the dark, even if I’m in a house with other people.
I went out of my room to check if, by any chance, my couchsurfing hosts were awake. It was 5am so obviously they were sleeping.
When I came back to my room I found one of the dogs on my bed. I tried to push it out, but it was a very big dog.
“Ok, you can stay”.
The noises made me feel uneasy and the dog reassured me. He lived in the house, if he wasn’t nervous about the noise, I guessed it was nothing I should worry about.
I went to sleep again… but I couldn’t.
Every now and then the dog, which was fully asleep, moved and smashed my feet. If that wasn’t enough, it smelled a lot. And… it snored!!
By 8am I couldn’t stand it anymore. I needed to get some sleep. So I opened the door, awoke the dog and asked him to go back to the dinning room. It wouldn’t move. I’ve never had a dog so I didn’t know what to do. At the end I tried to pull it out, which was difficult because it was big and heavy and it was holding to the bed with the front paws.
I apologized about kicking him out of the room, but after that moment it never looked at me again.
Mate, chacarera and fernet con cola
On my last day a friend of my hosts came and we all spent the evening together.
They showed me how to properly drink mate. First you put the mate in the container and turn it upside down to remove the dust. Then you add a bit of cold water and hot water at 80ºC. Then you can drink. The traditional mate is very bitter and some people don’t like it, even with sugar. Nowadays there is mate with different flavors, I liked the orange one.
They also taught me chacarera, a traditional dance which is danced in couples without touching each other. After dinner they let me try fernet con cola, a strong licor with coke. Urgh, it was indeed strong.
I told them about the noises I heard the previous night. They told me it might be a ghost and laughed. It was probably an animal which had gone inside the empty building. Just an animal? We laughed.
That night I heard the ghost again, but I wasn’t so scared anymore.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Cerro Campanario
- How to go from Bariloche to Cerro Campanario: bus 20, km17.
- Bus ticket: 12 pesos
- Chair lift: 120 pesos
- Hotel Llao Llao
- How to get there: bus 20
- Ticket: 6 pesos from Cerro Campanario, 12 pesos from Bariloche
Note: prices from June 2015
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