Things have somewhat improved in Bariloche, although we are definitely ready to leave tomorrow and move on to new stomping grounds. Bariloche doesn’t have much nightlife in the summer, and the places that are open appear to be filled with barely legal Lolitas, as this is where every high school in Argentina comes for its senior trip. We were behind a giant group of them yesterday while waiting for the cable car to Cerro Otto, but luckily were allowed to cut ahead of the Generation Z apocalypse by the staff.
Cerro Otto was one of the highlights, if not the highlight of our Bariloche vacation leg. In Buenos Aires we took taxis everywhere, but they are more sparse in Bariloche so we have been taking the public bus everywhere. I actually don’t mind it, as it gives us a more authentic look into life here. Bariloche is far more rural and less upscale than Buenos Aires, since it is in the mountains and on the border of Chile.
The first day I was here I wore a Zara tweed skirt, Zara high heels, a Stella McCartney bag and tanktop and quickly realized how insensitive it was to dress like that in a place where many people don’t make enough in a month to buy a shirt from Zara, let alone Stella McCartney. Ever since then, I have been rotating the same pair of yoga pants and a couple of tee-shirts along with the New Balance sneakers which I was forced to buy to navigate the terrain here.
Even if I did want to wear heels and such, it is basically impossible since the roads are a combination of dirt and cobblestone. Furthermore, the town is built into a hillside, so going to breakfast or to the drug store or wherever becomes an intense stair-climbing workout approximately 5+ times per day. I would be skinny in 6 months just from that, if we were to move here. As noted before, I had to buy geriatric-chic sneakers on our second day in Bariloche because it was impossible to navigate the town without them, even in my most comfortable flipflops, due to the rocky terrain.
Much to Karl Lagerfeld’s chagrin, I was happy to don my New Balances on our trip to Cerro Otto, as it involved a little walking, as usual. The main town bus drives on a dirt road for about an hour along the side of Lake Nahuel Huapi until it reaches the (overrated) resort of Llao Llao. You have to look at the kilometer markers on the side of the road to figure out where to get off for your particular destination, and either pull a string to get the drivers attention, yell or hope that he pulls over anyway.
Our driver went a little past the 5 kilometer mark where we told him to, so after gathering our bearings and a relatively short hike backward, we were ready to “climb” Cerro Otto. Experienced hikers actually climb the mountain, but we were more than happy to take a 12 minute cable car ride up instead. The wind howled outside and my ears popped, which made me contemplate my mortality briefly, but overall it was an enjoyable and peaceful ride with Gareth.
I really wanted to do the Otto Kart, an inflatable tube thing that you can ride down the mountain on pre-built paths, but Gareth was deemed too tall to fit (at 6’3″ he towers over everyone in Argentina) so instead we had lunch at the revolving restaurant at the top. My salad was not fresh and Gareth didn’t love his beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce either, but the service was friendly and the views were incredible. We could see the many lakes, snowcapped Andes, cable cars and entire town of Bariloche. It truly felt like the Fin Del Mundo, as the restaurant proclaimed.
Although our lunch was not a gastronomic wonder, our dinner more than made up for it. Through his passionate (some may call it borderline anal) Google searching, Gareth impressively found a vegetarian restaurant near our apartment. Its less than creative name (El Vegetariano, or “the vegetarian”) didn’t do justice to the innovate, delicious and extremely reasonable vegetarian cooking which we found inside the private house-turned-restaurant. We loved it so much that we went back again tonight for dinner. Both times we got the vegetarian Plato del Dia, which was a small serving of beetroot gnocchi, various vegetables, a spinach and cheese lasagna-type thing and other bite sized goodies crammed onto an entree sized plate. We also loved their fresh squeezed juices, opting to get them over wine or beer since they were far better. Our waiters both nights were very friendly, and spoke English which Gareth appreciated.
Tomorrow morning, we fly to Buenos Aires for the day, followed by a boat trip to Punta Del Este the next morning. I’m not sure if I would come back to Bariloche, but it has been an adventure and a fun bonding experience for me and G.