|We spent Easter in the Argentine Lake District, in the town of Bariloche. It’s famous for its skiing, its chocolates and for its Swiss Alpine demeanour. This is a historical thing, but much of the architecture (in a small area of the town) is clearly modelled on Swiss alpine log cabins etc, and they have St Bernard’s roaming the streets with Brandy around their necks, getting people to pay silly amounts for a photograph with the slobbery hounds. It is touristy hell, but actually no worst then Switzerland if one goes to somewhere like the Matterhorn. Having failed to thieve one of the pooch’s brandy I did get a photograph, ninja style, without paying for it, because I’m an anti-tourist tourist, which means I go to many of the same places as “they” but make a point of breaking all the rules when there, such as getting exactly the same photos but not paying for it. It is a questionable philosophy and one that I will explore later, when I’m bored at an airport and not in the vicinity of such chocolate decadence. But Bernard, Button and for that matter Saint, has a certain ring to it that I could not and did not overlook.
Unfortunately we were a few months too early to sample its skiing, but we were bang on time to decimate its chocolates, of which the Easter stock pile was considerable. There are numerous chocolate shops with a Willy Wonker level of detail and quantity. You can literally stroll down the street and go in to shop after shop and just browse their incredible range and selection of chocolates. We saw an egg that was 65 kg and looked big and sturdy enough that, if it were dropped off a very tall skyscraper (of which there were none in Bariloche) I estimate that it could have probably killed at least twenty people. Of course, this being Easter, those sorts of thoughts are not allowed, but I meant it as merely an easily understood point of reference assisting in my efforts to convey its considerable size, girth and weight. We had some exceedingly rich cakes in a cafe and were pretty much annihilated for the rest of the day, but as deaths go, gorging one’s self on chocolate is one of the more pleasing.
After this choc fest we then set about trying to put off our heart attacks and work it off. We hired mountain bikes and set out to explore the many lakes, passes and mountains of the area. It is a very pretty place, some of the lakes looking slightly Italian, and some of the mountain passes are so pine filled and alpine esque that you sometimes forgot you were in South America. The seats on the bikes deserve special mention since they were so ridiculously uncomfortable that Georgie was thoroughly incapacitated (the best and most ambiguous way to put it) at the end of our 55 km mountain bike up mountains. We also took a cable car up to a revolving restaurant that looks out over lakes and mountains and is apparently in the National Geographic’s top ten views in the world. That is a bold statement, considering already the things we have seen, but it was certainly most delightful.
So, all in all, the Argentina Lake Distinct is a very beautiful place, and worthy of a visit. Then, just because we love getting stamps in our passports, we entered for about the fifth time into Chile, to seek out fire...