Anthony on the Gringo Trail 2005 travel blog

Woods on Cerro Otto

Lago Nahuel Huapi and Bariloche to the right during a rare break...

Forest waterfall

Forest stream

Lago Gutierrez

None of the pics this page are that great, but they do give a sense of what it is like round here. As I said, I came here via Comodoro, but didn't want to make an entry just to make the map more accurate. There were no taxis at the bus station due to some unspecified strike. Luckily this nice bloke who had just dropped someone off took me to exactly where I wanted to go, past my fellow bus passengers toiling up the 3 km hill into town with their rucksacks. And my hotel room has a view of the very large lake and surrounding mountains which is nice. Generally very nice round here in an Alpine Windermere sort of way, though the town is big enough that I can imagine many holiday here just to shop, etc.

Common throughout Patagonia but taken to new levels of excess here is an obsession with gnomes, they are for sale everywhere in every kind imaginable. The other thing this town is big on is chocolate, there are chocolate shops the size of small supermarkets. My personal favourite are the flakes the size of your wrist, though I can't quite bring myself to buy one. My other favourite is the window display of the nativity made out of sweets. Tasteful. Talking of bad taste, you will have all seen amusing shop names in foreign places. There is a clothes shop here called "Come Boys", which I was particularly struck by. Sounds more like a gay porn site to me.

Bad news is that it has absolutely pissed with rain since I got here. Good news is that I have booked myself a flight from Salta to Lima on the 26th, so won't have to do the 48 hr bus trip from Santiago to Lima. The countryside is all looking the more dramatic at present though due to the very strong wind that has been blasting Patagonia for about a week now. I do wish it would just stop raining for five minutes though.

21st Nov: Still shit weather. I had a plan to hike some ridges, but it went awry almost from the start. First it turns out the buses aren't running because the drivers are in mourning for someone who died. Then it turns out the taxi drivers are too. Yesterdays problem continuing. So I adapted my plan by getting the free bus to a cable car station, and then said cable car up a mountain. As usual the wind was blasting, so much so, all the cable cars had huge concrete blocks on the floor so as to not sway too much and freak us all out. Next bad news was that the cloud cover was so low, when I got to the top you couldn.t see more than ten metres, which made ridge walking seem a bit pointless. So I walked back down the mountain again in the general direction of town. This was generally a very nice experience, relaxing, etc, except when the rain was particularly lashing. One feature of the forest which was very atmospheric with the swirling mist was long green moss hanging from the trees. Apparently this moss doesn't grow if there is any pollution.

I walked all the way back to town from the mountain as well, as still no public transport anywhere, doubly irritating as the only place I can buy a bus ticket out of here is the bus terminal. So after a short rest in my room, I walked all the way to the bus terminal and back too, past many pissed off tourists, both local and foreign, toiling up the hill in the rain with their baggage. I had a nice walk back by the lake, which the wind has whipped up so it has sea-like waves splashing everywhere. What I do have now though is a bus ticket out of here tomorrow. 22 hours to Cordoba, semi-cama, nothing to an old bus-hand like me. Mind you, it might be better if I had something left to read other than my Spanish Sherlock Holmes short stories. The buses were all around lunchtime, really bad for doing anything with the day, but as the weather forecast for tomorrow is worse than the one for today, and there appears to be every likelihood of still no public transport to get me anywhere I can go for a walk, I think it is right to cut my losses and leave town. Shame, but you can't win them all.

Had a nice Mexican meal for what I would call tea, but round here they probably call breakfast. One of the reasons I have yet to sample full on South American night life is that I keep wanting to do stuff during the day, and the bars dont get going till about 1, and the clubs till about 4. When I first started travelling on my own - about 13 years ago, I could do both, now I am not so sure.

22 Nov: Woke up to yet more rain, and decided I had had enough. Thankfully public transport is on again, so I went off to the bus treminal to see if I could change my ticket for an earlier one, but no joy. Left my big pack there anyway, and decided I had to have another go at the countryside, so got a bus to town, and then another bus into the National Park. It rained almost the whole time, but I had a real nice walk through some fab forests and along lakeshores to another part of the Park where I got a different bus back to town.

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